The Graceful Boon

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In the previous post, we talked heavily about how women are objectified and glorified sexually in the workplace. We talked about what a company culture that supports and protects women looks like; or more like, doesn’t look like, but SHOULD look like. Even though we’re now in the year 2023, in the workforce, it feels like we’re still living in the old times; back when women weren’t even allowed in the workforce and were to stay home to take care of their families.

While writing my previous post, I was reminded of Britney Spears. I’d been a fan of hers ever since her first ever single, ‘Baby One More Time’, was released in 1998. It was the first English song I ever learned. And I’ve been following her career ever since. I wasn’t ever one to take part in the ‘Free Britney Movement’, but I was a fan from afar. I was, what I call, a ‘silent fan.’ So it shouldn’t be a surprise to any of you that I was excited for the release of her memoir, ‘The Woman In Me’, last month. I was even more excited when I saw a few reports saying she will be working on a second book.

In her book, Spears held absolutely nothing back. That’s with the exception of the demise of her marriage as she was still in the process of writing the book when she was still happily married and there were no signs of divorce, at least to the public. Britney called her now ex-husband a ‘gift from God’. Nevertheless, Britney didn’t hold back when writing her memoir. She really put her all in writing the book. She was silenced for 13 years, and that was her opportunity to open up like never before. She wrote about her childhood, her days on Micky Mouse Club, her family, her friendships and former collaborators, as well as her romantic relationships, including the one with Justin Timberlake.

If you recall, or if you were a 90’s kid growing up like me, Britney and Justin dated for 3 years between 1999 and 2002. They were the IT couple among teenage girls all over the world back then, and all these teenage girls wanted to have what they had at the time. They broke everyone’s hearts when they broke up, and that was when Justin Timberlake’s career really took off. But it wasn’t because his music was a masterpiece. On the contrary, he made an entire career based on his former relationship with Britney Spears. As soon as his first album, ‘Justified’, was about to come out, Timberlake went on his Britney Spears breakup tour to promote himself. He didn’t even talk about his album. He talked about Britney Spears and told the world what a terrible person she was. He talked about how she mistreated him, he told the world she was a horrible person because she cheated on him, and even bragged about having sex with her.

And he couldn’t stop there. Throughout his entire career, Timberlake took every opportunity to throw shade at his ex. The last time he did so was in 2018. Buzzfeed has an entire article chronicling all the times Timberlake talked about Spears, and not once did he have anything positive to say. Throughout the years, Britney stayed silent. She didn’t say a word in response. You could argue that it was because Britney was silenced by literally everyone around her, but who knows?

Spears’ memoir came out on October 24th. This was her big opportunity to shine and open up like she never did before; mostly because she wasn’t allowed to. She didn’t hold back on any topic or any person she wrote about, including her side of the story of her previous relationship with Justin Timberlake. Through her book, we learned numerous things we didn’t know before, such as that Spears had an abortion in 2000. She and Timberlake agreed together to have the abortion because Timberlake didn’t want to be a father. She had it at home and no one, including no one in her family, knew about it. Spears also admitted to cheating on Justin with a backup dancer, but said that he cheated on her more than once, and that he had sexual intercourse with the women he cheated on her with, whereas she only kissed the dancer in question.

Britney was made to be the villain who’d broken the heart of a Golden Boy, whereas Timberlake’s career only thrived. He only apologized for his demeaning behaviour towards Britney, as well as Janet Jackson during and following that infamous 2004 Super Bowl moment, in 2021, and it was only because he got caught. A person who’s actually sorry wouldn’t deliberately be making an entire career out of bashing a woman he spent 3 years in a relationship with, let alone continuing to do so 15 years after their breakup. I’m sad to say that I actually attended a Justin Timberlake concert in 2014. It’s embarrassing for me to think that I even supported such a person’s career, but there you have it.

This entire Britney Spears-Justin Timberlake ordeal written through Britney’s point of view made me think a lot about women and business. And I don’t mean women IN business. On the contrary, I mean women AND business, and how women are made out to be a business machine. My previous post heavily mentioned the treatment of women in the workplace. In fact, it was all about what a company culture needs to look like n order for it to support and protect women in the workplace. After all, that’s the title of my previous post. Consider this a continuation of the previous post. This particular subject matter could never get enough attention, and I’m sure I’ll be writing about it in the future.

Britney is the perfect example of how a business, the media in her scenario, is a money making machine by setting women up for failure. It wasn’t just about Justin. Justin knew how the business worked and he used it to his advantage. Her entire career, even from the time she was a child, was based on a bunch of men degrading her worth and making money out of it. Women aren’t to be excluded though. We have women such as Diane Sawyer and Sarah Silverman to prove it. To be honest, it’s really no wonder that Britney quit the spotlight completely in 2019. She’d done a few songs here and there on top of the book since then, but she hasn’t done one single interview to promote her work. It’s not like she needs it anyways. Her memoir sold 1.1 million copies worldwide in a single week alone.

My friend and I recently had a conversation about Britney Spears actually. She mentioned that she was at a party with her friends the evening before I saw her, and she and her friends agreed, just by looking at Britney Spears’ Instagram page, that she’s mentally ill and needs help. “Something is seriously wrong with her,” she said. Naturally, I got curious, so I checked out her Instagram page. I was utterly disappointed. I didn’t find anything on her Instagram that would make me believe that Britney is mentally ill and needs help as my friend claimed. Yes, Britney posts A LOT on Instagram, and most of it is completely random sh*t. She also posts ‘nudes’ of herself from time to time, but so-freaking-what? In fact, a psychiatrist previously weighed in on the matter, and said that Britney posting nudes of herself is a reflection of her freedom. Everyone supported the ‘Free The Nipple’ movement, but then turned on Britney for posting ‘nudes’ without actually showing her body parts? The hypocrisy is unreal!

My conversation with my friend reminded me of ‘The Idol’. The show, which was penned by literally everyone, first got its taste of promotion when Britney was rumoured to be a part of. The show was initially created by The Weeknd, who also starred in it alongside Johnny Depp’s daughter, Lily-Rose Depp, and initially developed by a woman. It was a story that was meant to be told in the eyes of a woman. It had potential, and it really could’ve been something great. At the last minute, though, everything fell apart. The woman who developed the show abruptly quit, and a man took her place. The story of the show changed entirely. It ended up showing the reality of abuse, sex, and rape from a man’s perspective, and in a way, glorified it and promoted it as if everyone should do it. It’s like….if you rape and abuse women, you’ll be at the top.

It was a surprise to me that someone even allowed for the show to be made in the first place, especially after the #MeToo Movement. Luckily, no one in the entire world watched ‘The Idol. I know Youtubers watched the show as I’ve watched a few videos o them analyzing the show and telling their viewers not to waste their time watching it. It’s great to see that this type of degrading behaviour isn’t acceptable anymore. It was a long time coming. But we have a long way to go before women are really seen as equals and not less than their worth in the workplace and in business.

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