For the past 13 years, Britney Spears has been under a legal conservatorship that has allowed her father, Jamie Spears, to control her estate, finances, and personal affairs. As of Sept. 30, his role as her conservator has been suspended.
In 2008, Spears suffered a public mental breakdown and was reportedly placed on psychiatric hold two separate times. According to Mr. Spears, this was a clear sign that his daughter’s mental health was deteriorating and that he needed to take action, prompting him to take on the role of Spears’ conservator. Since then, many questioned whether the conservatorship stemmed from a desire to control and exploit the singer rather than to protect her. Spears famously testified in June that there were many instances in which, under her father’s approval, she was drugged and forced to perform against her will during both her Las Vegas residency and her 2018 European tour.
Spears has also been unable to have more children under her conservatorship, as she was forced to keep in an IUD as birth control. Some USF students believe that what has happened to Spears speaks to more pervasive issues regarding the preservation of bodily autonomy in this country.
Lucie Maas, a first year philosophy student, has been keeping up with the trials through the “Free Britney” movement on social media. “I am shocked that this has been allowed to happen in California, of all places,” Maas said. “Coming from the Midwest, I always thought of California as this progressive place. This just shows that regardless of where you’re from or how much money you have, if you’re a woman, your right to choose what to do with your body will always be up for debate.”
Sophomore pre-med student, Julia Riad, was elated to hear of Spears’ release from her father’s control, having felt that the conservatorship could potentially start a dangerous pattern for others. Riad said, “If they can make these claims that Britney Spears is unwell and therefore needs to be controlled, what is stopping them from making these claims about any woman?”
Riad also said that Spears’ treatment went against her personal values. “I am pro-choice. That means just as I support a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion, I must also support Spears’ right to have a child if that is what she wants.”
Likewise, sophomore biology major Sadaf Dabiri said that she feels what is happening with Spears is a “sickening and prime example of men believing that they have the right to control others’ decisions.” She said the conservatorship is misogynistic and that “Spears has been completely taken advantage of.”
Dabiri believes that it is important to become involved on all issues regarding reproductive rights, whether they concern a famous individual, such as Spears, or an entire population. On Oct. 2, Dabiri attended a Women’s March that protested Texas’ new law that would outlaw abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which is often before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Upon hearing about the ban, she said she instantly felt compelled to act. “I felt as if there was an attack on my rights,” Dabiri said. “After this newest law, I felt as though I could no longer be an activist by reposting the same pro-choice Instagram infographics. I needed to get out.”
There will be a hearing Nov. 12 to determine whether Spears’ conservatorship will be terminated in its entirety, freeing the singer once and for all.