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Britney Spears has every right to be angry (Opinion)

Britney Spears asks to withdraw guardianship of her estate 1:54

Editor’s note: Kara Alaimo, Associate Professor of Public Relations at Hofstra University, is the author of “Pitch, Tweet or Engage on the Street: How to Practice Global Public Relations and Strategic Communication.” He was a spokesman for international affairs at the Treasury Department during the Obama administration. Follow her on Twitter @karaalaimo. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author. See more opinion on CNN.

(CNN) – On Wednesday, Britney Spears told a judge that she is “traumatized” and “angry” that she cannot make key decisions about her life and called for the guardianship established by the court to be abolished.

Under guardianship, his father, Jamie Spears, has had control over his personal life since 2013 (except during a hiatus in 2019 due to his health problems). It also controlled its finances until February, when a wealth management company was named a co-guardian of such decisions.

Of all the worrisome things about this situation, one of the most troublesome is that we know everything about it.

On Tuesday, The New York Times published details of confidential court records showing that Britney Spears has long opposed this deal. She has said that, by virtue of him, she has been sent to a mental health center against her will, has been forced to act with a fever of 40 degrees, has been limited with whom she has been allowed to go out and even You have been prevented from changing the color of your kitchen cabinets. At the hearing, she also said that she was prescribed lithium and forced to continue taking contraceptives, as well as touring and acting against her will. This lack of autonomy is chilling.

A lawyer for her father told People earlier this year that “Britney knows that her dad loves her, and that he will be there for her when and if she needs him, as he always has, with guardianship or not.”) .

Britney Spears

A portrait of Britney Spears looms over supporters and journalists outside the court hearing on the singer’s guardianship at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday, June 23, in Los Angeles.

There are so many disturbing items here that it’s hard to decide where to start unpacking them all. But first, in the case of adults, guardianships are established when a person does not consider himself competent to make decisions that serve his own interests. This suggests that Spears continues to suffer from serious problems. Of course, it would be hard to imagine her without battling these issues, given the way she grew up being sexualized by the media and harassed by paparazzi.

But there are also reasons to believe that the guardianship has been too controlling. After all, during the time of this arrangement, Spears has released four albums, including two that racked up platinum sales; served as a judge on two television shows; and reportedly earned $ 138 million for performing in Las Vegas. As NPR notes, “Those accomplishments don’t exactly line up with the typical profile of someone who can’t take care of himself.”

And, in November, Spears’ attorney said she had stopped working and will not return to work as long as her father controls her career. This in itself suggests that the guardianship is not working for you.

But there is arguably something even more distressing here: the fact that we know it in the first place. Guardianship itself and whether or not it is still or has ever been the proper course of action here focuses on Spears’ mental health and finances. These are topics that she, and all women (and men), should have the right to keep private. In the United States, the right to privacy around these concerns is so clear that the Freedom of Information Act specifically exempts private medical records and financial information from being disclosed by the government.

The reports by The New York Times and other news outlets are not illegal, but it is difficult to understand what public interest is in unearthing juicy details about a woman’s private life.

While Spears asked that her testimony be made public, after all she has endured it is understandable that she wants a chance to tell her side of the story. As he said Wednesday: “Making me keep this for so long is not good for my heart. I am concerned that I will not be allowed to be heard. I have the right to use my voice.

The world simply has no right to know any of these things about Spears. But of course the public and the media love to obsess and judge the most intimate details of women’s lives in public view. As Jill Filipovic (CNN Opinion contributor) noted in her book “The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness,” men just don’t face the same “jeweler’s scrutiny” about “every decision in their life. ».

Since Spears is an artist, we should judge her based on her art. The fact that every fan, reporter, and media commentator thinks it is their right to be informed and have a say in Spears’ most personal matters is a baffling type of intrusion that doesn’t feel all that different from the nature of the guardianship itself.

This is why even the documentary released by The New York Times earlier this year, which portrays #FreeBritney activists’ opposition to tutelage and suggests that the media and music industry bear much of it. To blame for many of the star’s troubles, it was so heartbreaking. “I didn’t see the documentary, but from what I saw, I was ashamed of the light they put me in … I cried for two weeks,” Spears wrote on Instagram.

Put yourself in Spears’ shoes. The fact that you’ve had to deal with an arrangement that exerts such vast control over so many aspects of your life is terrible enough. Nor should you have to consider how your statement will work before a judge in the court of public opinion. These matters must be kept confidential.

What is happening to Spears also sends a disturbing message to other women: that we cannot count on privacy when dealing with the legal system. It’s no wonder, then, that other women often don’t turn to court for help when faced with their own chilling issues, from rape to revenge porn.

No one has the right to inquire into the personal health and financial details of women’s lives, even if they are in the limelight. Today, it is not just a judge who should take a hard look at what Spears faces. Fans and reporters should also think carefully about how they treat women in the public eye, so that in the future they don’t find out, as Spears sang, that they did it again (“did it again”).

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