what the story of Britney Spears teaches us about the father-daughter relationship


The one that initially seemed to many only a conspiracy theory conceived by some fans it turned out to be a hostage life made of trauma and abuse. The #FreeBritney movement was right: on June 23, Britney Spears spoke for the first time, telling the judge of a Court in Los Angeles all the abuses and forms of control suffered by the father. For several years the singer has been trying to get rid of the conservatorship which makes Jamie Spears the legal guardian able to control the entire estate and life of his daughter.

With the release of the documentary Framing Britney Spears, the pop star’s past was shown to us in a different light. Episodes that marked her (such as the one in which she shaved her hair to zero) and that at the time were considered simply “the sclero” of a celebrity, began to be framed in their complexity, tip of an iceberg that reveals how much Britney Spears has been harassed by the media system. There are many points to be clarified but from the documentary it emerges clearly how much Spears has never really been free to choose and her father has certainly played a crucial role in all this.

The story of Britney Spears made me think a lot the impact that the father figure can have in the life of a woman. Thanks to feminist movements we have learned to recognize male dominance at different levels, yet sometimes we still struggle to recognize the power wielded by fathers.

A society that has always romanticized the father-daughter relationship has also endorsed an implicit form of possession. We see this in the frequent jealousy that many fathers have towards their daughters, in the constant control over their bodies and in the difficulty of letting them go their own way. If I think that in our culture who must accompany the bride to the altar is the father who literally “gives” his daughter to the future spouse, I can not help but ironize about the efficiency of this father-courier who you deliver it “intact”, “packed” and on “scheduled time”. Of course maybe it is not exactly a cheap courier given the price of weddings, but delivery at least is assured.


In fact, what is seen as protection often turns out to be a form of domination that unconsciously expresses itself by considering daughters a property, a property that many fathers see as a direct extension of themselves. And that’s how they become reluctant to let their daughters into the adult world, react in a hostile way with their boyfriends and impose a series of rules that do not apply to sons. These behaviors are hardly considered anomalous precisely because they are confused with overprotection. Being protective for a parent is something absolutely natural and sensible, the difference is when that protection is used as a pretext to repress and censor the desires of a daughter just because you are uncomfortable with her freedom. As Jude Ellison Sady Doyle writes in Monstrous Female: “If a monster is a scary body because it is out of control, a monstrous woman is a woman free from the control of man.”

All this shows us that even if by now the old figure of master father lived by my mother’s generation has begun to fall apart for some time, we have not completely freed ourselves from that mindset. The identity, achievements and achievements of a daughter sometimes continue to belong to her father, who takes credit for the mere fact of having contributed to her existence. And the case of Britney Spears is clear proof of this.


Jamie Lynn Spears, Britney’s sister, breaks the silence: “I’ve always been on her side”


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