“People can take everything away from you, but they can never take your truth,” are the starting lines of Britney Spears’ 2004 hit cover “My Prerogative.” Spears’ personal truth is a matter of public discourse lately, following the latest legal development in her life: A Los Angeles judge just denied the singer’s court appeal to revoke her father’s control over her conservatorship.
The news — alongside her lawyer’s claim to Variety that Spears is “afraid of her father” and won’t perform “as long as he’s in control of her career” and her $60-million estate — has ignited renewed frustration from “Free Britney” supporters. Like Spears, these fans and followers dispute the conservatorship, which legally deems the performer “mentally unfit” and makes her dad, James Spears, the decision-maker over her life and finances.
Many took to Twitter to speak out against the decision to uphold James’ status of power over his adult daughter, as well as point out how the patriarchy casts a long shadow over the issue.
Others also wondered if Spears’ dad used his sway to keep the musician from making mundane choices like drinking coffee or voting in the recently-passed U.S. federal election; a common, but untrue belief was that being a conservatee stripped her of this constitutional right.
Although legally she could cast her vote, the fear over how far her father’s influence reaches speaks to what disability-justice activists have said about the conservatorship system and how it can be used to take away someone’s civil rights under the guise of goodwill.
While the court decision did add a co-conservator approved by the singer, the matter is unlikely to resolve anytime soon, “Free Britney” shows no signs of stopping — and, most likely, neither will the references to liberty and self-autonomy in her lyrics.
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