Britney Spears Is Not A Girl. She's Been A Woman For Decades.
TEN. THOUSAND. DOLLARS. A. WEEK.
That is how much Britney Spears's lawyer Samuel Ingham has been authorized to bill his client since her conservatorship began in 2008, and according to an email he wrote to the trust company managing her accounts, "This amount has been paid without question since then."
It sounds like a lot, until you consider that her father Jamie Spears, as conservator, is getting $16,000 per month, plus $2,000 for office space, plus a cut of everything she earns. That's a shit ton of money, according to back-of-the-napkin calculations done by the New York Times. Especially because he was getting paid on the gross, as opposed to the net:
In 2011, he received a 2.95 percent commission for his work on Ms. Spears's successful Femme Fatale tour. And in 2014, he was granted 1.5 percent of gross revenues from the performances and merchandising tied to her Las Vegas residency, "Piece of Me," which went on to earn a reported $138 million across nearly 250 shows.
The dual role of looking out for Ms. Spears's best interests as conservator and reaping more profits each time she performed was "fraught with conflict," according to W. Michael Hensley, a probate lawyer in California who works as a fee examination expert and is not involved in the Spears case.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this supposedly disabled person is feeding everyone in her life, earning millions of dollars a year, and being restricted to a $2,000 weekly allowance.
And although her father's grip has loosened significantly since 2018, with professional managers assuming a larger role in running her personal and financial life, the 39-year-old artist seems no less unhappy than she was before and, as of 2019, has refused to work until her father is removed as conservator.
In a harrowing personal statement to the court yesterday, Spears described being coerced to perform against her wishes, involuntarily medicated with strong drugs such as lithium, forced into intensive therapy sessions in venues where she was guaranteed to be photographed coming in and out, and forbidden to spend money she herself had earned.
SPEARS: The control he had over someone as powerful as me — he loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%. He loved it. I packed my bags and went to that [rehab] place. I worked seven days a week, no days off, which in California, the only similar thing to this is called sex trafficking. Making anyone work against their will, taking all their possessions away — credit card, cash, phone, passport — and placing them in a home where they work with the people who live with them. They all lived in the house with me, the nurses, the 24-7 security. There was one chef that came there and cooked for me daily during the weekdays. They watched me change every day — naked – morning, noon and night. My body – I had no privacy door for my room. I gave eight vials (?) of blood a week.
If I didn't do any of my meetings and work from eight to six at night, which is 10 hours a day, seven days a week, no days off, I wouldn't be able to see my kids or my boyfriend. I never had a say in my schedule. They always told me I had to do this. And Ma'am, I will tell you, sitting in a chair 10 hours a day, seven days a week, it ain't fun… and especially when you can't walk out the front door.
Even more shocking, Spears said she's been blocked from getting her IUD removed so she and her boyfriend can have another child.
SPEARS: I was told right now in the conservatorship, I'm not able to get married or have a baby, I have a IUD inside of myself right now so I don't get pregnant. I wanted to take the IUD out so I could start trying to have another baby. But this so-called team won't let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don't want me to have children – any more children. So basically, this conservatorship is doing me waaay more harm than good.
The whole thing is just awful and sad. This is a grown woman with less freedom than a teenager, who just wants "my boyfriend to drive me in his fucking car."
And let's be clear, none of us knows Britney Spears's medical history. You don't know what kind of therapy she needs, and neither do I. Her request to have the conservatorship terminated without having to undergo further psychological evaluations is highly unlikely to be granted. Every year a court appointed investigator writes up a report, and for the past 13 years, the judge has approved the continuation of this arrangement. But no one would give a shit about this woman's mental or financial health if her name was Britney Smith, and no one would dare treat her like a child if her name was Brian Spears.
Because it's not illegal to be crazy. It's not illegal to waste your own money. It's not illegal to have bad boyfriends. It's not illegal to yell at your backup dancers. It's not illegal to surround yourself with sycophants. It's not illegal to refuse to take your meds. It's not illegal to walk away from your career. In short, it's not illegal to be a hot mess. And the only people whose messiness is being pathologized, not to say monetized by everyone around them, are women.
It's simply impossible to ignore the way grown women are infantilized by both the media and the legal system. The fact that this woman can't even control her own uterus is just the most obvious, screaming metaphor. But every single thing about this account shows the wildly different standards applied to women and men.
"Britney knows that her Daddy loves her, and that he will be there for her whenever and if she needs him, just as he always has been — conservatorship or not," Jamie Spears's lawyer said last year. As if the issue was whether a naughty little girl needed her selfless Daddy to guide her. The same Daddy who pocketed millions for sending his daughter out to dance on stage in her underwear night after night. The same Daddy who is said to have referred to her as "a racehorse who has to be handled like one."
This is an adult woman, not a little girl, and not an animal to be exploited.
"All I want is to own my money, for this to end, and my boyfriend to drive me in his fucking car," she begged the court. Which doesn't sound so crazy at all.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.