WASHINGTON, D.C. – The system is failing Britney Spears—but she’s not the only one.
Her anguished plea to a judge of “I want my life back” resonated far beyond the courtroom. Millions of women know what it’s like to have powerful men question their mental stability, challenge their independence, usurp their bodily autonomy and jeopardize their health.
Spears’ father took advantage of a broken system to lock her into a conservatorship that is usually used for people with severe cognitive impairment, such as dementia, who are incapable of handling their affairs. Like millions of other people. Spears has experienced mental health issues; but unlike anyone else, her symptoms played out in the public eye, in front of a global audience.
From forcing her to continue to perform and record (earning millions over which she has no control), to preventing her from removing an IUD so that she can have more children, Spears is being controlled by people and institutions more interested in propping up the patriarchy than respecting women’s free will. The latter revelation is a chilling reminder of generations of forced sterilization in the U.S, which was even upheld by a Supreme Court ruling that was never overturned.
This is a gross abuse of power and a violation of human rights. NOW believes that if a woman is mentally and physically capable to work, as Britney Spears is, she is also capable of making decisions about her own reproductive health. While her celebrity has shone a spotlight on this one case, we recognize that there are countless women who are denied bodily and fiscal autonomy every day, and their stories must also be heard.