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#FreeBritney: Double standards in the music industry

It’s no secret that the music industry is notoriously sexist.

But when Kanye West’s new album “Jesus Is King” dropped — coinciding with the  announcement West stopped taking his bipolar disorder medication during the album’s production —  I couldn’t help but think about Britney Spears.

Granted, I think about Britney Spears nearly every day, and especially these days, because of everything she has been going through.

That’s because Spears has been in a conservatorship since 2008, after her very public breakdown. A conservatorship is a legal hold which is put into place when someone is so mentally incapacitated, they cannot take care of their own medical or financial needs and someone is appointed to do so for the conservatee. 

Her father, Jamie Spears is the sole conservator of her estate. This means, legally Spears cannot make purchases for herself, drive a car, vote or anything a normal U.S. citizen can do without permission from her dad. 

Earlier this year, she cancelled her second Las Vegas residency months before it was set to open, saying that it was due to her father’s sudden illness. Shortly after, it was revealed Spears had entered a mental health facility to cope with her father’s sickness. 

But that wasn’t the full story.

Things started to take a turn when the podcast “Britney’s Gram” got a voicemail from a verified source, a paralegal who works in the law offices that handle Spears’ conservatorship. The voicemail revealed Spears had been in the mental health facility much longer than the public had known. 

In reality, Spears’ residency in Vegas was cancelled because she had issues with her medication and her father forced Spears into the facility against her will, according to the source. 

Twelve years have passed since Spears’ breakdown, and while I do believe the court’s decision to grant her parents conservatorship was well-intentioned, she’s in a different place today.  

Spears has released multiple albums and gone on multiple international tours since 2007, but she cannot shop at Target or leave the state of California without getting permission from her dad. 

Either way you look at it, her management team comes out looking like the bad guy.

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As the sole conservator of his daughter’s estate, Jamie is either forcing Britney to go out and work when she cannot mentally withstand it, or her team is using this conservatorship to keep her under their control while her father and team sit back and count their money.

And come to think of it, there is no reasonable explanation as to why the conservatorship has lasted this long. 

Spears has been under media scrutiny since the moment people saw her belly button in the 1998 “...Baby One More Time” music video. 

There was a time when Spears could not go anywhere without paparazzi tracking her every move. People threw her name through the dirt, accused her of being an unfit mother and not measuring up to the role model the public wanted her to be. 

No one could possibly keep it all together under that level of pressure. Plus, publicly discussing mental health with empathy was much more taboo 12 years ago. 

Back in 2007, we all cheered and jeered as Spears fell from the pedestal society had put her on. 

And she has been paying the ultimate price since then. 

We didn’t take away Justin Bieber’s right to drive a car away from him after he cracked under  societal pressure. Chris Brown still has control over his finances after pleading guilty to domestic violence. Kanye West can stop taking his medication, tweet that he’s running for president and throw his most ridiculous takes into the void without anyone calling into question whether or not he should be in charge of his estate.

Call Spears’ conservatorship what it is: sexism. 

Women are punished and held to a higher standard when they make mistakes, while men can mess up as many times as they want to without being held accountable. 

Spears’ conservatorship is currently being investigated into after several incidents in which the validity of its existence have been called into question. 

Hopefully, Spears will have her well-deserved freedom and independence soon enough and stop being punished for mistakes that she was pushed to make by the pressures of society over a decade ago.

#FreeBritney. 

May all the women who are also held captive by the double standards of society be freed as well. Let us hope that one day celebrities are treated as people — not public possessions of society.

kwiatkdm@miamioh.edu

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