Wonkette wrote a #FreeBritney post.
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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California judge dismisses murder charges against Chelsea Becker
Yesterday, a judge in California dismissed murder charges against Chelsea Becker, for having a stillborn baby.
Prosecutors had argued the baby died because Becker, who struggles with addiction, caused the stillbirth by ingesting meth during her pregnancy, but Kings County Superior Court Judge Robert Shane Burns ruled that they hadn't presented any evidence that Becker knew when she took the drugs that doing so could kill her baby.
The outcome is right. Pregnancy should not be criminalized.
But, unfortunately, this is not the end of the bigger fight.
In September 2019, Chelsea Becker, then 26 and nearly 9 months pregnant, delivered a stillborn son. After she gave birth to Zachariah Joseph Campos, at Adventist Health hospital in Hanford, California (near Fresno), hospital workers who thought she might have used drugs while she was pregnant alerted the Kings County Coroner's office.
Two months later, prosecutors charged Becker with murder, citing an autopsy report that Zachariah had "toxic levels of methamphetamine in his system." The court set her bail at $5 million.
Becker sat in jail for more than a year before eventually being transferred to a drug treatment center earlier this year. (After the ruling, Becker's lawyers said she would be staying at the treatment facility for now.)
Rather, this is an attempt to "polic[e] pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes in general." Paltrow celebrated the dismissal but noted that Judge Burns had left the door open for future prosecutions of pregnant women.
"This is such an important victory," Lynn Paltrow ... said Thursday. "We are so grateful that Chelsea Becker was willing to fight this egregious charge to try to ensure that no one else has to face a murder charge for experiencing a stillbirth."
Still, she said, the outcome was slightly bittersweet.
"This prosecution based on a misinterpretation of state law resulted in somebody being deprived of her liberty and exposed to the real danger of COVID for 16 months of her life," she said. "This cost taxpayers innumerable dollars in terms of the incarceration as well as all of the time to pay for the prosecution in this case, money that could have been used to improve access to healthcare in their community."
So why the fuck is this happening?
In 1970, the California Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Robert Harrison Keeler. Keeler had been found guilty of murder after he badly beat his ex-wife, trying and succeeding at killing the baby she was having with another man.
In response the California legislature added fetuses to its murder law, with the intention of being able to charge people who attack pregnant people. The law included an exception for abortion, saying it does not apply to acts "solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus[.]"
That language would seem to preclude prosecutions against women like Chelsea Becker. Unfortunately, however, the California Supreme Court has never explicitly ruled that you can't prosecute someone for losing a baby.
So initially Judge Burns sided with the DA, allowing the case to proceed. And when he dismissed the case against Becker, Judge Burns also made it clear that the case was being dismissed because of a lack of evidence, not because the law was being improperly applied.
Becker's nightmare isn't over yet. The prosecution can still appeal the ruling or request a new preliminary hearing. According to executive assistant district attorney Phil Esbenshade, Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes, the asshole who chose to prosecute her in the first place, "will review the record and the transcript of Thursday's proceedings before deciding how to move forward."
Fagundes also said he disagreed with the court's ruling.
"It is the opinion of our office that sufficient evidence was presented at the preliminary hearing to hold Ms. Becker to answer for trial," he wrote in an email. "The judge who presided over that preliminary examination, upon hearing that evidence and considering arguments from both sides, did find such sufficient evidence existed. Judge Burns, the judge who dismissed the case this morning, apparently disagrees with that finding."
So it's very possible that Fagundes will keep trying to throw Becker in prison.
For their parts, both former California Attorney General and current HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and current AG Rob Bonta have both strongly opposed Becker's prosecution. Like Becerra wrote in an amicus in Becker's case, prosecutions like this "subject all women who suffer a pregnancy loss to the threat of criminal investigation and possible prosecution for murder."
Stop criminalizing pregnancy
Robert Burns. Phil Esbenshade. Keith Fagundes. Xavier Becerra. Rob Bonta.
That sure is a lot of men making decisions about people with ovaries.
Sadly, Chelsea Becker isn't the only person being prosecuted for losing a child. She wasn't even the only woman in California behind bars for it.
"We are seeing an increasing number of women who are arrested for experiencing miscarriages and stillbirths," said Lynn M. Paltrow, founder and executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
Between 1972 and 2005, Paltrow's organization documented 413 cases in 44 states and the District of Columbia in which women were arrested or detained for reasons related to pregnancy, she said. About 84% of them involved drug use. In the 14 years since, she estimates there have been about 900 additional cases.
Like Chelsea Becker, Adora Perez also delivered a stillborn baby at Adventist Health hospital in Hanford, where staff again called the coroner to report suspected drug use after delivering a stillborn baby.
The same prosecutor, Keith Fagundes, charged Perez with murder. The same judge, Robert Burns, allowed the case to proceed.
It's not exactly shocking that these cases involve all of the same players. Things like this happen when you have religious hospitals and shitty local politicians who are all too happy to work together to persecute women and pregnant people.
A hospital ready and willing to accuse its patients of murder. An obliging coroner, district attorney, and local judge.
Apparently, those are all the things you need to criminalize pregnancy. Even in California. In 2021.
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How's the view from that giant glass house, fella?
"Universal day care is class war against normal people" is a take. How the hell is helping Americans pull themselves up by their bootstraps and boost the country's economic productivity bad for the working class?
It's not, of course. And it's essential to raising women's workforce participation rate, which has taken a beating during the pandemic. That's why most developed economies subsidize childcare. But President Joe Biden supports it, and it's extremely popular, so the GOP finds itself in the unenviable position of having to argue that universal childcare is AKSHULLY an attack on the very working parents it's designed to help.
But JD Vance, the iconoclast who spun riches out of "just so" stories about poor white people and hopes to be Ohio's next senator, is game for the challenge. So this morning he booted up his Twitterphone to explain how daycare is bad and working is just a lifestyle choice. Yes, really.
"The establishment critique of universal daycare is that it spends too much money," he opened. "The better critique is that it's terrible for children, and that a healthy society should make it easier for parents to care for kids. Spend money on parents, not corporate daycare."
You'll note that there's no citation for the daycare is "terrible for children" critique, because it's total bullshit. As a parent who had three kids in less than four years, I can tell you from personal experience that good quality daycare is essential to young children's social, emotional, and academic development. (Also it saved my life.)
You know all that stuff about "grit," or however they're currently describing the ability to make yourself do unpleasant tasks for hours on end? It's that ineffable quality that's essential to academic and professional success, or so we're told.
You know how kids learn to do that? They go someplace where they have to sit on the bloody carpet at 9 a.m. every day and sing the "Good Morning" song! Yes, even on days when they just don't feel like it. Sure, pre-school's not the only setting where kids can learn to share their toys and function as a member of a community. But since most "normal" people don't live in multi-generational communes — even over on Klickitat Street, Ramona Quimby had to go get babysat after school by Howie's grandma — daycare and pre-K are probably the best bet for most of America.
But don't take my word for it. Just ask the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, which published a peer reviewed study finding that kids who attended a daycare in accredited centers exhibited lower levels of emotional problems and anti-social behavior.
Or you could go with JD Vance, who got this slide from the American Compass Home Building Survey saying that Americans without a college degree would prefer to have one parent stay home with the kids, at least part time.
"Universal child care" is a massive subsidy to the lifestyle preferences of the affluent over the preferences of th… https://t.co/HudfhqUuJ9— J.D. Vance (@J.D. Vance)1619703551.0
It is worth noting that the prospect of spending their entire paychecks on childcare might impact respondents' "preferences," and with that worry gone, that poll results might change rather a lot. But getting into Vance's own words, paid employment is a "lifestyle" now? Really? Then why are Republican states racing to add work requirements for Medicaid? And what exactly are people supposed to do with their young children when they're luxuriating at their jobs all day long? Because the average full-time salary for a worker without a four-year college degree was about $40,000 — which isn't going to keep a family of four clothed, housed, and fed in most parts of America. And that includes everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to dental hygienists with associates degrees; people with just a high school diploma (or less) fare even worse.
But still, Vance and his buddies persist in pretending that childcare is just a gift to selfish elites, with their two-income lifestyles and disdain for their own children.
"It turns out that normal Americans care more about their families than their jobs, and want a family policy that doesn't shunt their kids into crap daycare so they can enjoy more 'freedom' in the paid labor force," he snorts.
I'd note that Vance and his wife both work outside the home. But I will not infer from this that they "care more" about their jobs than their families. Nor would I fault his wife — and let's cut the shit here, it's always the wife — for deciding not to torch the career she's worked so hard to achieve by leaving the workforce for five or six years to take care of the couple's children. Because I'm not a disingenuous asshole LARPing as Joe Sixpack.
It's a truly amazing position for a guy running to represent a party which has spent two generations trying to gut wage protections that might have ensured that families had a real choice about whether both parents should work. Decent childcare (i.e., not in some unlicensed provider's basement) costs about $1,000/month, and a whole lot more than that in major metropolitan areas. And still there are years-long wait lists to get into it!
Not because parents don't want to stay home with their kids, but because generations of gutting wage protections and the social safety net have made it all but impossible to pay rent and put your kids through college on one income.
"Lot of ideas out there for how to directly help parents instead of giving them only one option. This is a good one," Vance says, linking to Sen. Josh Hawley's proposed $1,000/month tax credit for married parents of children under 13. Single parents can take $500, because it's, umm, cheaper for them to raise kids, we guess?
And you know what? We're all in favor of a bolsa famiíia-style child allowance. Albeit not one with Hawley's "fuck you" to single moms and requirement that claimants earn $7,540 (i.e. 20 hours a week at minimum wage) to get it, and certainly not as a substitute for universal childcare. Because unlike this nonsensical dialectic Vance and Hawley would like to conjure up, the existence of pre-school does not take anything away from stay-at-home parents. When I was home with my babies, I didn't resent "Head Start" programs for helping other people's kids. Because, again, I'm not an asshole.
Perhaps realizing he'd gone too far, Vance retreated into cute tweets about his kids. "My toddler is obsessed with mallards. Which means I'm obsessed with mallards," he gushed.
That's nice. But if he were really a good father, he'd be home all day cutting the crusts off of peanut butter sandwiches and drawing pictures of mallards in between rousing choruses of the alphabet song, right?
Haha, just kidding. JD Vance is a man — no one on earth expects him to do something silly like that.
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Just some good old fashioned slut-shaming.
It's been a real rough week. But it's Saturday and my head still feels like it is filled with cotton balls from having gotten my first jab on Thursday, so I got you all a beautiful present — a terrible Federalist article in which a white lady pines for the days when there wasn't so much ... booty?
Yeah, I don't know either.
Anyway! Federalist writer Madeline Osburn saw a tweet of a guy talking about how seeing "too much booty" on social media has made him "numb" to it and taken the joy out of "ass-gazing."
There's obviously some things we could get into here, starting from the fact that this guy probably has an ass-centric algorithm situation and is just seeing a lot of ass because that's what he's been looking at, and moving on to the fact that maybe not everything is about his personal boner and women shouldn't have to rearrange their lives or their social media presence to ensure he only gets the precise amount of ass he wants to see. But let's not and say we did. Let's move on to Miss Madeline, who saw this video and then wrote an article titled "This Man Is All Of Us: America Is 'Bootied Out' And It's A Shame."
First question: Is he though? He's not me. He's not Madeline Osburn. She makes it quite clear in the rest of her essay that she is a heterosexual woman, and therefore it seems unlikely that overexposure to other women's asses is making her less excited about seeing women's asses. In fact, I would bet you that you could scroll down any of her feeds for an hour and you would not find any of the "booty" this man is seeing.
But go on.
In addition to explaining the inflation and the devaluation of the dollar better than most economics professors, our friend here perfectly explains how the flooding of social media with booty pics has devalued women's bodies, which is a shame for both women and men.
It's "devalued women's bodies?" Are you kidding me?
If men don't like it when women have agency over their bodies and when they are enthusiastic about what they are doing, then they are the ones with the problem. No one would think to say that thousands of pictures of shirtless men would "devalue men's bodies" because we're all supposed to assume that men are more than their bodies.
Madeline then quotes Camille Paglia and we're not even going to get into that for reasons of Camille Paglia.
The more we as a culture are inundated with women trying to out-titillate each other, whether on TikTok or in Cardi B music videos, the less titillating they become. As our friend above says about the 37 booties he sees on one scroll through Instagram, "Y'all have taken the joy of -ss gazing out of my life."
Oh christ, this is about WAP, isn't it? It's actually incredible how mad conservatives are about WAP. Like, really? They listen to Ted Nugent's varied and sundry odes to gang rape, but they're going to complain about one song about female pleasure? For months on end?
Why should women feel sorry for this man? His joy is not our responsibility, but the devaluation of women's bodies hurts women too.
Before we were all "bootied out," a woman's sexuality was not just mysterious and proactive, but the most powerful force on the planet. It drove men to face great risks, cross oceans, write ballads, and even start wars just for the chance to gaze at a woman's booty. Women held all the cards in intimate relationships.
Yeah, so first of all, Helen of Troy was not a real person. Her dad was Zeus, King of the Gods, who impregnated her mom, Leda, while disguised as a swan. Her face did not actually launch 1,000 ships, because she did not exist and therefore neither did the ships.
Second, if our sexuality was the "most powerful force on the planet" then why did we have to wait so long to be allowed to vote? And the idea of women having "held all the cards in intimate relationships" is about as fictional as Helen of Troy and her Swan/God rapist father. We couldn't even have credit cards, Madeline! We couldn't own property, which would have been much more helpful than a ballad.
Now, men sit back while women work their butts off, literally, trying to hold a man's gaze before he swipes left or right onto the next one. In an attempt to liberate ourselves, we relinquished our power, and in doing so, diminished the quality of the men we hope to attract. Is it just a coincidence that fewer men are graduating college and joining the workforce than ever before? Should I mention that men's testosterone levels are also plummeting?
Because they're seeing too much booty? Because yeah, I am gonna say these things are definitely all coincidences.
Is she actually suggesting that women having agency over their sexuality is preventing men from graduating college and getting jobs and is ... depleting their testosterone? I am not a testosterone scientist but I am relatively sure that that's not actually a thing.
In order to make booty great again, we must make booty limited again. In today's butt-centric media landscape, women who understand how to conceal their curves, and who instead deploy the "magic, mood and mystique" of sex, as Paglia describes it, will unlock the secret to yielding power over men again.
"Yielding power" is quite the Freudian slip there. This woman is in no way old enough, however, to have experienced any kind of hallowed past where women who "concealed their curves" wielded great power over men, both because she looks quite young and because that past never existed. Also, if we look at cultures that require women to dress modestly, women don't actually have a whole lot of power in them. In fact, they are usually a pretty terrible time for women. The FLDS, the Amish, the Duggars ... I could go on.
It's clear that Osburn's deal is that, like other conservatives, she just desperately wants to push "modesty" on women, and sees this as her way in. She's basically "I'm not a chicken, you're a turkey"-ing women's sexuality. But the fact that she's specifically using some supposed "booty" surplus to do this feels more than a little racist and gives off some very strong "opening dialogue of 'Baby Got Back'" energy.
And for men like our friend @gotsnacks_ who are feeling "burnt out," stepping away from the social media booty deluge may not only have a positive impact on those testosterone levels, but will increase the value of real, tangible, unfiltered booties IRL.
No, it won't have "a positive impact" on testosterone levels. That is actually insane. Look at asses or don't look at asses. Look at boobs or don't look at boobs. Everyone has a choice here. As does Madeline Osburn.
If Madeline Osburn wishes to embrace "modesty," she is free to do that. I don't care how other people dress unless they are paying me to dress them, or we're friends and they ask me "How do these jeans look? Should I buy them, yes or no?" In fact, she should really enjoy this upcoming season that is for some reason filled to the brim with hideous prairie dresses with giant puff sleeves. It is not, however, her business to tell other women what to do with their bodies on social because she thinks that's the thing keeping men from starting wars over her face.
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