popular feminism part 7

While the documentary brought attention to Spears and the Free Britney movement, and the Free Britney movement brought visibility to Spears, I would argue that it valued visibility over concrete change. One could argue that Spears is now free from her conservatorship, did not the effort of the movement cause change? I believe the moment that disrupted the conservatorship was not the Free Britney movement but instead opening night of Spears’ Las Vegas residency. While it was supposed to be a performance and yearlong residency, instead of performing or talking to any press- she walked off stage and refused to work until she was appointed a different conservator.[1]

            Popular feminism’s goal of empowering women by bringing visibility to women and sexism is a noble cause, but I think the simplicity of its mission constricts the ways it addresses the nuance of the problem that it faces, which ultimately results in little work done to actually challenge the system which it aims to question. While Hildegard is now considered a part of the Western music canon, how does she actually challenge the canon? What values within the canon deem the work of women to not be included? Asking these questions could lead to a conversation about the hierarchy of genre, gendered politics, and whether the canon is an antiquated heirloom or a useful system of organizing repertoire. [BW1] But instead, we settle for attempting to add more women into it, never really changing the system that never valued our work in the first place. And while the popular feminism seen within the Free Britney movement had good intentions, its focus on visibility made it appear to be more of a regurgitation of the mistreatment that Spears has already experienced—serving to misrepresent her, and using the ideas we have about her to create an economy of tribes and merchandise.

[1] Stark, Framing Britney Spears, 1:09:05