Columnist gives her opinion on Britney Spears’ conservatorship and the #FreeBritney movement
BY CARLY WITT, ’23. GRAPHICS BY CAROLINE KEGG, ’24.
My first memories of music are vivid. I was 6 years old and got a small iPod for Christmas. My parents loaded some of their music onto it so I could listen and a few of the songs were by Britney Spears. That was 2011, and Britney Spears was already three years into her abusive conservatorship.
Following Spears’s mental conflicts after her divorce with Kevin Federline in 2007, she was placed under a conservatorship because the law and those around her did not believe she was able to take care of herself or make certain decisions. Since the conservatorship was put into place, she has made millions off her residency shows in Las Vegas, music sales and appearances; but she isn’t in control of anything she makes from her career.
While I believe that conservatorships are put into place for good reason, and that Britney’s began with good intentions based on her mental state in 2007, I do not think she should still be in a conservatorship. Her conservators are holding her down for their own profit when she is more than capable of having control of her life.
Being under a conservatorship means that you are not your own person. Britney is not able to have a credit card, cannot write checks, cannot choose where and what she eats, cannot dictate where she lives and the conservators even control what she wears and every purchase she makes. Her conservators control every penny she spends, communications and her personal decisions.
She has been living under these circumstances for 13 years and even has expressed how damaging they are; she stated in court this summer that she has been isolated, financially exploited and emotionally abused. Her conservators have been in control of her money that she has been making since her career started when she was sixteen and her property for thirteen years.
Before Britney was under a conservatorship, close friends, backup dancers and old managers of hers expressed how much she loved being in control of herself and her life. She was completely in control of her money, career, performances and music. That was her lifestyle, and she was in possession of everything. Now, she is unable to have any of that control.
I believe Britney should’ve entered the conservatorship when she did. After getting the divorce and being seen doing irresponsible things with her young kids (i.e. driving with them in her lap), she was in an unstable mental state and needed a break from making her own decisions. But now, thirteen years later, she should absolutely not be under this conservatorship. She is entitled to have her basic human rights back.
Spears has even expressed how abusive and dehumanizing the conservatorship is and how badly she wants her life back.
“All I want is to own my money, for this to end and for my boyfriend to drive me in his car.,” Spears said in testimony this summer.
Britney’s family plays an interesting role in the conservatorship. Her mother is unsupportive of it to this day, and Britney’s father was the main conservator until Sept. 29, 2021. He wasn’t around when Britney was growing up, but he miraculously showed up and became in control of her decisions and spending when she became under the conservatorship. He has made millions of dollars out of this conservatorship and is only doing these things to Britney for the money, not for the well being of his daughter. He showed no consideration for her mental and physical health by the conditions he put her in.
Britney Spears’s conservatorship is a timely example of mental health stigma issues, and being a woman in the music industry as well. Her father being removed from the conservatorship is a step in the right direction to getting her freedom, but it isn’t enough yet. This conservatorship needs to end; Britney is well able to take care of herself and does not deserve the thirteen years of abuse she has received.