ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.



November 2023



The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
People interested in how youth stardom, misogyny, and failures of the justice system can impact someone.

In a nutshell:
Singer Spears shares her story, from being a teen star and one of the most famous people in the English-speaking world, through the conservatorship that kept her under lock and key for over a dozen years.

Worth quoting:
“I accomplished a lot during that time when I was supposedly incapable of taking care of myself.”

Why I chose it:
As someone who consumed a lot of pop culture musings in my youth, I felt a bit like I owed it to Spears to hear her tell her story, when so many others had chosen to tell it without her input.

What it left me feeling:
Angry and a little sad.

I was in university when Britney Spears became a household name. For a few years I listened to her music, but didn’t follow her much after I graduated. But she was so very famous that I couldn’t help but learn about her career just by living in the world. And what I learned clearly wasn’t the whole, or even much, of the story.

Spears’s father was abusive. Not physically (well, I’d argue how he treated her while he controlled her as an adult was physical abuse), but definitely emotionally. Her family was not kind to her. It’s kind of a wonder she ended up doing as well as she did, considering the lack of support, along with how the media and society treated her.

Like others who listened to Spears over the years, I followed the case of her father’s control over the money and her body. I probably engaged in my own misogyny, judging her for outfit, parenting, hair choices. Also, I naively thought that the civil court system might actually be acting in her best interest if she really was suffering from some mental health issues. Clearly, that was not the case.

I felt a lot of anger towards everyone who failed and took advantage of Spears over the years. Controlling what she could eat, who she could see. I’ve seen this mentioned before, but there are a lot of very famous men who have acted much more erratically and were much more irresponsible, but none of them had their personhood taken away. None of them had their father saying they had to remain on birth control as a 30-something-year-old. And that fact that she was as famous as she was and still was put under this control, with no support, and really no evidence it was even necessary to start, let alone for 13 years, is pretty fucked up. What’s happening to people who don’t have her resources.

In the book she addresses some of the things that people still comment on – why she posts photos of herself nearly naked, or in a bunch of different outfits. It’s about regaining control of what she does and how she is viewed. I get it. She might be in her 40s, but she missed her 30s pretty much completely. She’s figuring out how to be a grown woman. I wish her luck, and I hope all those her failed her and took advantage of her can make some amends.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
Recommend to a friend

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