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Women's Bodies

Feminism, Hair, and Britney Spears, Gloriously, Empoweringly Bald

britney.jpg

As you may or may not have read, Britney Spears recently shaved her head, got a new tattoo, and checked herself in and out of rehab a couple of times.  The tabloids and random Britney-watchers are flailing around in shock and awe now because they don’t get it.  Men, especially, don’t get it (as I will illustrate below).  It’s as though this is the last straw for all who love to hate Britney Spears, especially.  Being pimped out by her parents and the music industry as a teenage sex symbol wasn’t the last straw.  Getting married and divorced within 24 hours wasn’t the last straw.  Having two babies bing, bing, wasn’t the last straw. Driving with the baby on the lap wasn’t the last straw.  Over-indulging in various very public ways wasn’t the last straw.  Kissing Madonna wasn’t the last straw.  A night on the town in a short skirt without underwear wasn’t the last straw.  Filing for divorce wasn’t the last straw.  Hanging out with Paris Hilton wasn’t the last straw.  No.  Shaving the  head!  That’s the last straw!  ZOMG, CALL 911, Britney Spears has shaved off the penultimate signifier of white heterosexual womanhood,  her long, flowing, shining, Rapunzel-like blonde locks!  What can it me-e-e-e-e-e-a-a-a-a-a-n?! 😛

The reactions and responses, everything from, “She’s totally lost it!” to “Yet another bid for attention, sniff, what a shameless floozy!” to “She’s headed for a breakdown!” are interesting and illuminating from a feminist perspective.

I think Britney Spears shaving her head is a very positive statement.  I love it.  I think it confirms what I believe to be true about her:  that she is beginning to come into her power as a woman.  I also think it is a hearty and resounding “fuck you” to everybody who has used her, exploited her, fetishized her, idolized her, objectified her, worshipped her, hated her, despised her, whacked off to  photos of her (real or fake) *, sprained their fingers in their mad searches for the infamous “Britney crotch shots,” dismissed and trivialized her, made fun of her, violated her, mocked her, and attempted to humiliate, degrade and silence her.  It might be a big fuck you, too, to the ex she is currently divorcing, who, in true asshole fashion, has announced he’s going to fight for custody of their kids.   She’s letting the whole world know she is her own and she knows it; therefore, she will do what she likes, and she doesn’t care what anybody thinks.  She’s becoming her own woman. 

Throughout history the way the hair is worn has had tremendous social significance, especially for women.  It has been central to the mythologies and religious traditions which have shaped our lives.    In Christian and Jewish tradition, we have Samson, who took the Nazarite vow not to cut his hair and who was betrayed by his lover Delilah, that shameless hussy, who tricked him, then cut all of his locks off in his sleep, the story serving as a warning to all men that they must never trust a woman, especially a woman they love.  We have Rapunzel, imprisoned in a tower, who had long hair like “spun gold,” which was sheared off by an enchantress when Rapunzel made her own independent plans to run off with a suitor.   Nuns and other religious women throughout history have been required to shave their heads as a sign of devotion to deities of various kinds or in submission to various male authorities, while those deemed to be “prostituted” or “loose” have had their heads shaved as a punishment.  Most patriarchal religions have, at least at some point, required women to cover their hair with veils or hats, the reasoning usually being that women’s long hair is “sensual,” should be reserved for her husband, or might be a source of temptation to random rapists, sexual assailants, or even (in Christian tradition) angelic entities of various kinds.   Inconsistently, the same religions which require women to cover the hair have often forbade them to cut it, viewing long hair as integral to the enforced femininity which patriarchal religion requires.   Shaving of the head has often  also been used to punish “wayward” women.  In World War II Europe, thousands of women had their heads publicly shaved before cheering crowds because they were believed to have collaborated with the Nazis.

In the United States, long hair, again, particularly if it is blonde, is still the gold standard for femininity, and therefore it has rightfully long been a site of feminist resistance.  Feminists in the U.S. have a proud history of refusing to accommodate patriarchal dictates around women’s physical appearance, including hair, urging women not to comply with the ongoing patriarchal insistence that our bodies should be all but hairless, while our goal for the hair on our heads should be long, longer and longest, and that we should be willing to spend endless amounts of time and money shaving, waxing and depilitating our bodies and faces, along with grooming, coloring, bending, or otherwise attending to the (preferably long) hair on our heads.  As such, feminists have been the rebellious women, uppity, defiant, scary, and none quite so scary as those who spit in the eye of patriarchal beauty standards by shaving their heads, which many, many feminist leaders have done or come close to doing, and particularly lesbian feminists, the penultimate rebels, who really just don’t for one moment care what men think about the way they look.

It’s pretty common for a woman to cut off her head hair and grow out her body hair once she comes into her power, during times of her life which are crossroads for her.  Far from indicating mental or psychological instability, to cut off the head hair and grow out the body hair indicate strength and soundness of mind and character, integrity, courage, courage of conviction, qualities patriarchy cannot tolerate or abide in women, and so the reversals, the rush to label any woman who, in her appearance, defies patriarchy, as “mentally ill” or “nearing a breakdown” or “(gasp) trying to get attention.”  When in fact, bottom line, such a woman is more likely just very busily fucking everyone’s fascist beauty standards and letting everyone know what they can do with their opinions and judgments of her, which is a beautiful sight to behold for those of us who understand such things.

Same thing with the tattoo.  While fine feminists I deeply respect have made completely persuasive arguments against all body modifications, including tattoos, and while, in fact, I agree with their critiques, I still view someone like Britney Spears — forced into the blonde princess/blonde girlie girl/blonde, always blonde, sex symbol role from puberty, basically — getting a tattoo as indicative of her coming into her power, despite the fact that being tattooed has become somewhat trendy and fashionable.  Having tattoos is still a no-no in corporate America, even at Starbucks and other theoretically “progressive” companies.  Having tattoos will keep a woman from getting good jobs.  For women, tattoos are still associated with independence, with opposition to traditional feminine streotypes, with defiance, with doing what women are not supposed to do, like riding Harleys, playing rock guitar, or loving women instead of men.  I found it telling that in describing Spears’  most recent tattoo, a pair of lips on her wrist, the tattoo artist described the tattoo she received as “dainty,” as though to head off at the pass any suggestion that Spears was moving away from stereotypical femininity.  I doubt Spears would describe her own tattoo as “dainty,” regardless its size.  She sure made no attempts to conceal it, in that she asked that it be placed on her wrist in bright red and pink, where it would be highly visible and almost impossible to cover up, ever.

I received this e-mail in my inbox this week from Tei Tua, who had commented to one of my earlier Britney Spears threads.

She seems to be getting more and more strange. Are you still calling what she’s been doing “gutsy”? I continue to believe that she’s showing the effect of
having heaps of money which came her way just as she reached adulthood, so since she became responsible for herself (and now 2 little kids) she’s never had the concerns of a regular person. And at this point, she’s pretty much facing the world alone. Oh, her good friend Paris Hilton, well…

Not to hassle you enormously, but I wonder if you’d say the same things now that you did a few weeks ago. Any chance that you’ll write about Ms Spears again?

“Poor little rich girl” indeed.
TT

I trust this blog post serves as a response, Tei Tua.  I also trust that with other readers, your letter serves as evidence of what I wrote above, that men, especially, just don’t get it.  Britney Spears is getting free.  Like I say, it’s a wonderful sight to behold.

*As an experiment, do some google searches on Britney Spears images (not at work) and make note of the fact that most of what comes up is pornography (which does not actually include Britney Spears).  A public which loves to hate her has made her to be pornography. 

Heart

Discussion

39 thoughts on “Feminism, Hair, and Britney Spears, Gloriously, Empoweringly Bald

  1. completely. 100%. agree.

    when I saw that she had shaved her head, with the attendant screaming headline: “A Call for Help!!” I thought, no way, uh-uh.

    it’s no call for help, it’s a call OF freedom.

    go Britney!😀

    Posted by Cinder | February 28, 2007, 8:00 pm
  2. I shaved my head as a junior in high school. The most unexpected (for me) thing about it was that so many other girls told me that they’d like to try it, but were too afraid of how family, friends, and society in general would react.

    I second “go Britney!”

    Posted by Vinegar | February 28, 2007, 9:00 pm
  3. In response to TT. First of all, Britney is and always will be a woman. She will continue to have the strains and injustice of being a woman. For you to comment and say that she is not a regular person it shows that you lack intelligent of knowing what a woman goes through in life. You should not critique the fact of having more money or more fame, it does not matter, that is not the issue. The reason is she is experencing womanhood, just as the young woman said who wrote this page about Britney. In the future you should not be so judmental of what one woman has gained. That is why we as woman can’t get along because of the injustice comments that woman like you make about other successful women.

    Posted by abritt5004 | February 28, 2007, 9:08 pm
  4. Yeah, hair has so many meanings for women. I think of the pressure on women of color to conform with “caucasian” hair–to have “good” hair–and the painful processes that sometimes requires. I think of the women in concentration camps who were also shaved. I think of the women of color at Michigan who speak out against and stand up to the stupid requests of white women to touch their braids.

    Sorry to always be flogging my own crap in here, but here’s something I wrote many years ago after I shaved my own head.

    I think Britney looks great! I totally agree with your assessment, I think the head shaving is a great big ongoing long-lasting bird-flip to everyone who is trying to squeeze her into a mold she clearly doesn’t want to fit into. She’s trying out different stuff, and she’s going to find her way, just like we all do. I think we all sometimes forget just how young she is, and how much pressure as well as how much power and privilege she’s experienced at such a young age.

    Posted by Amy's Brain Today | February 28, 2007, 9:15 pm
  5. A few notes:
    First of all I suspect you’re probably pretty much on target with what is going on with her here.

    But second my general objections to this coverage is the extent of news coverage of a non-news item. That is annoying, not what she did. But I suppose it’s a separate issue, really.

    Posted by anon | February 28, 2007, 10:46 pm
  6. yeah, anon, definitely much ado about a non-issue! But then, that’s true of the media treatment of all celebrities in the U.S., it’s all pretty much much ado about nothing. This just gives us a chance to provide a feminist analysis of what’s going down, something most people are not going to read in mainstream media.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 28, 2007, 10:55 pm
  7. She looks great. Go Britney, tell ’em!

    Another fuck you to fascist beauty standards, which is hardly ever mentioned for some reason, is NO MAKEUP! It’s also much healthier because then you don’t have cosmetics being absorbed into your body, which, over long years can cause illness.

    Posted by Branjor | February 28, 2007, 10:57 pm
  8. i was reading something over at “the trouble with spikol” about how britney’s doctors think she might be suffering from post-partum depression and i think there might be something to that. (i wish the media would address that a little bit. i think PPD is so much bigger and affects so many more women than we even know.) she’s very young and had two children back to back which i would imagine would be very hard for ANYBODY, not to mention her marital and career issues.

    i just think she’s very, very young with a lot lot lot of pressure and responsibilty from family, fans, agents, and everyone else who wants a piece of her financially, emotionally, whatever. it doesn’t seem to me like she ever got a chance to really be herself and rebel and find out who she is, you know? she’s had “handlers” since the very beginning who told her how to look and how to behave and what to do and i think she’s just now starting to break free from that.

    we all go through it at some point in our lives: questioning who we are and what we want and who we want to be. many of us are fortunate enough to be able to do it with some degree of privacy however, and she’s not.

    i must admit that i do not suffer wealthy people easily, but my heart does go out to britney because she is so very young and she has been so very manipulated by so very many people.

    i’m glad she’s finally doing something to take care of herself and heal.

    Posted by ms. jared | February 28, 2007, 11:24 pm
  9. yea! lose the hair, lose the makeup and focus on the inside, a great way to fight back a capitalist, patriarchal society..which by the way is whats really destructive..it’s the first positive thing I’ve ever seen her do for other women and girls.

    Posted by jo | February 28, 2007, 11:46 pm
  10. “Being pimped out by her parents and the music industry as a teenage sex symbol wasn’t the last straw. Getting married and divorced within 24 hours wasn’t the last straw. Having two babies bing, bing, wasn’t the last straw. Driving with the baby on the lap wasn’t the last straw. Over-indulging in various very public ways wasn’t the last straw. Kissing Madonna wasn’t the last straw. A night on the town in a short skirt without underwear wasn’t the last straw. Filing for divorce wasn’t the last straw. Hanging out with Paris Hilton wasn’t the last straw. No. Shaving the head! That’s the last straw!”

    “I think Britney Spears shaving her head is a very positive statement. I love it. I think it confirms what I believe to be true about her: that she is beginning to come into her power as a woman. It might be a big fuck you, too, to the ex she is currently divorcing, who, in true asshole fashion, has announced he’s going to fight for custody of their kids. She’s letting the whole world know she is her own and she knows it; therefore, she will do what she likes, and she doesn’t care what anybody thinks. She’s becoming her own woman.”

    Thank you, Heart. My thoughts exactly. She may not grasp the feminism in her act. We’ll see. She so uneducated she may never see until she’s through her 7th divorce and 5th kid.

    Posted by Donna Darko | March 1, 2007, 2:42 am
  11. Shaving her head didn’t hurt anyone. Neglecting her kids hurts her kids but America did not care about that. America did not care she was with an absolute loser and user. They didn’t care she was on drugs.

    America’s embarrassment at her shaved head is incredibly sexist.

    Posted by Donna Darko | March 1, 2007, 2:46 am
  12. I wanted to believe that Spears shaved her head as a sign to the world that she’s been pimped out long enough and wasn’t putting up with it anymore. However, it does seem that she’s suffering post-partum depression, drug problems or, most likely, drug problems from self medicating a bad case of post-partum depression.

    Be that as it may, I think that Ginmar summed it up best when she described Spears as “a very young mother who just had a kid five months ago, filed for divorce, and seems to be self-medicating and getting more and more desperate… ” She’s also lived, since her childhood, with the whole world watching her every move. I don’t know about you, but I’d have been in (greater) crisis, too, if cameras had followed me during my teens and early twenties, reporting my every move (read: screw up) to an audience that reveled in my mistakes and my miseries. We all did stupid things and screwed things up well when we were kids, too. Imagine how messed up you’d been if Leno and Letterman used your screw ups for their monologues.

    Posted by CoolAunt | March 1, 2007, 2:54 am
  13. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with Britney growing tired of being mass-marketed masturbation-fodder. When I first heard about it, though, I have to admit I cherished the hope that maybe she had secretly Renounced, taken vows as a Buddhist nun and was off to help kick collective Chinese ass the hell out of Tibet. Even though this is not the case, I still applaud her Statement. The bottom line is, it’s her body, and she is certainly capable of deciding what she wants to do with the strands of keratin growing out of her scalp. Right now, for her own reasons, she wants a change. Her main purpose in this life is to live it for herself and her own development, wherever that may take her. That guys no longer have a convenient, ‘tabloidette’ visual-aid excuse for self-slime-ing their narcissistic little right hands is, quite frankly, not HER problem…

    Posted by akkarri | March 1, 2007, 7:46 am
  14. I’ve been wanting to shave my head for a long time. Ever since I had to shave my mom’s head. I couldn’t get over how soft her hair grew back in. As soft as a baby’s. It was then I realized I’ve never seen the top of my head without any fur on it. Well, except for in baby pictures. And it bothered me. Why is it I’ve never seen such an important and visible part of me? Is there some truth to cavemen dragging women around by their hair? I know from playing a lot of sports that you don’t give your opponent anything to grab onto. So hair is short or pulled back and clothes are tucked in. And while we’re at it, what’s up with all these pictures of women without any heads in so many ads? Are women’s heads threatening to men?

    Posted by Luckynkl | March 1, 2007, 9:38 am
  15. Very good post here. And I’d like to say that that I haven’t often felt that hairstyles for ANYBODY have really had that many meanings to them, I found myself in agreement with almost the entirety of your post here. I think people in their pop-culture feeding frenzy (to say nothing of what seems their convenient focus away from this WAR we’re in the middle of) seem to have managed to forget that Britney OWNS HER OWN HEAD and can do whatever she pleases with it – heLLO, she’s a grown woman, you know?

    But.

    I am confused by something you said and I would very much like to be sure I understand the WHOLE of your post here, so, I’ll hope that you don’t mind if i ask for a clarification of one of your points above, where, you said this: “It might be a big fuck you, too, to the ex she is currently divorcing, who, in true asshole fashion, has announced he’s going to fight for custody of their kids.”

    Is your point here that it’s not ever right for a husband to petition in a divorce case for custody of children? As in, an implied rule of general principle (petitioning for custody of the children is de facto an asshole move for men to make)? Or, did I misread something and the ex is doing this (petitioning for custody) BASED on his errant belief that “something’s wrong with Britney” so the “right thing to do” here would be to prevent her from having custody of her own children?

    Posted by mannabozo | March 1, 2007, 10:11 am
  16. I’ll go ditto on what CoolAunt said.
    Great post too Heart.
    xx

    Posted by stormy | March 1, 2007, 10:58 am
  17. On the t.v. a few days ago, they showed Britney Spears go absolutely ape-shit on a group of paparazzi with nothing more than an umbrella and a shit-kicking look in her eye. So that’s another good sign, I think.

    Women have to get angry. Shit-kicking, head-shaving, fuck-all-y’alls ANGRY. And then things start to change.

    Posted by Sassafras | March 1, 2007, 3:41 pm
  18. I believe the point Heart was making about K-Fed’s custody petition is that it is motivated by money, and perhaps by a desire to hurt and punish Britney. This man has never given any indication that he gives two craps about the kids he already had before they married–no custody battle over those two, eh?–let alone had any interest in being a real father to Britney’s kids. I think many women can relate to the “oh yeah? Dare to divorce me? Well I’ll show YOU! I’ll do my best to take the kids away.” MRA-shithead post-divorce behavior.

    And please. I have a lot of trouble believing Britney’s kids are in danger. The woman is a multi-millionaire. I’m sure she has excellent child care, unlike most women. Whether it’s in a kid’s best interest for its mom to be out drinking without her panties is a completely other (rife with sexism) argument–I’m sure the kids are well cared for.

    Posted by Amy's Brain Today | March 1, 2007, 4:08 pm
  19. Hey, akkari! So true re thinking, “Hmmm, maybe she’s become a Buddhist…” I had many thoughts like that as I was writing this post, about all the many, many things shaving one’s head can mean. And while I’m talking at you🙂, what GORGEOUS artwork on your site. Wow. Also yes re the Chinese getting the hell out of Tibet.

    I love hearing that Britney went apeshit in the direction of the papparazzi. HA! Good for her. Maybe she needs to get some martial arts training now that she has the non-hairdo for it. 🙂 Those assholes. One of the most nauseating, disgusting things I ever saw was a cover shot on a tabloid of Britney’s hair weaves in disarray! It was, like, a closeup of her scalp! See, the way it works is, she is both worshipped and hated for her golden locks, so there must be this ongoing quest to find fault with them, and weaves in disarray works, a HA, look at THAT, it’s not even all her hair! Of course now that she has zero hair she is somehow thought to be on the verge of a breakdown, whereas when she spent god-knows-what for hair weaves and had to deal with THOSE all the time that was undoubtedly a sign that she is in good shape because she is “taking care of herself” meaning buying and maintaining someone else’s hanks of hair stuck to her head. ARGHGHGHGHGHHHHHHH!

    Hold on to yer hats, but I am of the opinion that it is always wrong for a father to petition courts for custody. Wrong wrong wrong. I think he has every right to do his absolute level best to negotiate a deal with his children’s mother including hiring an attorney to negotiate the deal, but that’s imo all he can do. When he takes the step of petitioning the court and actually fighting his children’s mother when she wants custody? Hell no. That’s a bona fide asshole. Because (1) if he were any sort of decent father, ANY sort — this is what I know from an ample buttload of lived experience, research, study, working with women, reading, as an editor, thousands of letters from women — she would gladly — I’m telling you GLADLY — not only share custody with him but allow him primary custody; (2) this is a power move. Men petitioning for custody get it because they are men and they know it (no matter what they say); (3) 9 times out of 10 men do this for one reason, as Amy said: to harrass the women who leave them. They also do it to attempt to get more money out of the deal and to negotiate lower child support for themselves (because theoretically they are going to be having the kids more). Then once the judge signs the order the guy either never has the kids on his days (just doesn’t show, has excuses, whatever), or he palms the kids off on babysitters or friends or family members or whomever, some of whom will be dangerous to the kids, or he takes up with various girlfriends he expects to care for them and ditto.

    Here’s what I know. Any man who is, in truth, a good father? A woman will gladly share custody with him or even grant him custody. No matter how bitter the divorce. Because no matter how bitter the divorce, women really really do care about the welfare of their kids. They are also far more honest with themselves about whether or not they are good parents (in a way men almost never are). If they don’t want to share custody it is because (1) the guy is dangerous; (2) the guy has dangerous friends/family who will hurt their kids; (3) the guy is a lousy father and completely irresponsible.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 1, 2007, 4:49 pm
  20. This post has really inspired me. In fact I will mention it in my Media class at Huafan University on Monday.

    Earlier in the week, (in the course’s introduction), I had touched on the contradiction of how the media overlooked Spears other outrageous behavior yet pronounced her insane with a shaved head. Your post is wonderful and the rich analysis says so much on our popular culture. Go Britney! Leave the processed blond locks at home and be your self with a shaved head and tattoos.

    Posted by jorees | March 2, 2007, 8:56 am
  21. Like I tell my lit students, we can’t ever really know the author’s intention. In a lot of lit cases, the author is not living, so it’s rather beside the point to describe what John Donne “was trying” to say or whether Katherine Philips was “really” a lesbian. All we’ve got are the signs that they left, and all we can analyze is what the signs do.
    That’s just to preface my excusing myself from conversations about whether Britney is Buddhist, depressed, craving attention, or just likes the soft bristly/downy feeling of a shaved head (who doesn’t?). Setting aside speculation, I think you’ve done a great job at describing how a female shaved head acts as a sign, and how problematic the kneejerk responses to it can be… never mind how baldness stands up to her public behavior behavior, it’s ridiculously hypocritical for anyone to call shaving “a cry for help” or a play for attention, and to by implication consider the fetishized blonde locks as neutral or natural.
    Good post and interesting comments.

    Posted by tanglethis | March 2, 2007, 2:41 pm
  22. “…it’s ridiculously hypocritical for anyone to call shaving “a cry for help” or a play for attention…”

    If you’re talking about my comment here (or even if you’re not), where I got the idea that she’s self-medicating was the news that she checked into a rehab facility just days after shaving her head. I suppose I could be ridiculously hypocritical for assuming that she’s been self-medicating a bad case of post-partum depression but it does seem to make sense, if only to me, that a young woman who hasn’t been known to abuse alcohol or drugs in the past checks into a drug rehab five months after giving birth to her second child might just be suffering from post-partum depression. If for no other reason, I like to think so because it’s further proof in the hands of the movie-viewing, celeb-loving audience that Tom Egomaniac Cruise was wrong.😉

    Posted by CoolAunt | March 2, 2007, 8:17 pm
  23. *first need to finish shuddering at the thought of Tom the Freak* blleaaarrrrgh*

    Thinking about self-medication, post-partum depression, and shaving one’s head as a call for freedom: I think what you’re saying, Cool Aunt, also makes sense. I also don’t think that the two (three?) are incompatible, not that you were saying that they were. I keep remembering what I was going through when I used to shave my head. Mind you, I didn’t shave all of it- I had mohawks of varying sizes- tho that might not really be relevant. Almost always, I shaved my head almost in a fit of… pique? Frustration. Rage. Pain. Fed-up-ed-ness. It always felt so liberating, so therapeutic, so cathartic. I always felt so much cleaner afterwards, as if I had shaved away the crap in my life. So in a way it was self-medicating to shave my head; I was in pain, I was angry at the world and when I shaved my head I felt better. In this way it also felt like a cry for freedom. By shaving my head I declared my refusal to comply with cultural standards of femininity (or cultural standards period, what with the mohawk an’ all). Shaving my head made me a target for violence and verbal harassment as well, which made me all the more angry, which led to bigger fashion “fuck you”s- larger mohawks, bolder colours, stranger clothes. Anyway, I’m not entirely sure how this relates to post-partum depression, never having experienced it. I asked a friend some time ago if a part of post-partum was the social role/expectations placed on mothering, as if becoming a mother suddenly felt smothering when all the world tells you that you should now be “fulfilled.” She felt that, for her at least, this was a large part of post-partum depression.

    So, to wrap up my thoughts, because I’m not sure if I’m being clear, having had two children back to back, just going through a divorce, with the entire world condemning your every move and every mistake, mix in post-partum depression and perhaps she finally went “fuck this noise” and shaved her head, shaving away the crap in her life. Which is self-medicating, liberating, perhaps fueled by depression, but still, in the end, a big royal FU.

    And losing her temper at the stalkarazzi? Wom, that is just her making sense😛

    And what Vinegar said way up-thread: me too, always had people coming up to me in secret telling me how they wish they had the guts to do what I was doing.

    Posted by Cinder | March 3, 2007, 5:13 am
  24. oooh my comment is awaiting moderation! maybe it was all the swear words?:/ heh I need to check The List😛

    Posted by Cinder | March 3, 2007, 5:14 am
  25. Huh, I don’t know why your comment went into moderation, cinder, all I know is, my list of words to moderate is gynormous!

    And I’ve been thinking about you lately– have somethng I want to run by you and will e-mail you. 🙂

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 3, 2007, 6:08 am
  26. Hi, Heart!

    Thanks for the nice words in re: the art posted on my blog.

    It just kinda tickled me to think of Britney as possible-Buddhist because of the extreme ‘physicality-scrutiny’ that has been directed at her and every detail of her life that the tabloid press can dig up/embroider on to boost sales for whatever sleeze-rag they themselves whore for. (I will add here that I work for the Public Library system of the city in which I live, and I find it disgusting that we have to spend a chunk of our hard-to-come-by book budget on buying ‘People’ mags for all 38 libraries in the system…) Buddhist Renunciation was the most oppositional thing to that I could think of, and the shaving of her head really hit me with an ‘I’m DONE with it’ vibe.

    The fact of her self-Balding also strikes me as an effort at personal distancing– it’s almost like she doesn’t quite know exactly how to get the press to treat her more humanely, and that she’s fighting a real battle for sovereignty over her own body here, which it pains me to see. This is why I’ll discuss her hair– or lack of it– with folks on this blog, but you won’t find me in the ranks of obedient little ‘all-things-Britney’ (or indeed all-things-any other public personage of your choice) consumers. Just because a young woman likes to sing for general public entertainment– and regardless of her actual vocal talent, etc.– this doesn’t mean she should have to put up with a constant invasion of her right to bodily privacy, even though she has some celebrity.

    Also, what I think I see her trying to find her way through is a kind of ‘fractal iteration’ of what a sexually abused child goes through. Like a child who is taken advantage of precisely because the child does not know how to ward off an attacker and/or how to articulate their distress to enlist aid in ending it, Britney has always struck me as someone who got sucked into the media-hype machine before she could tell people ‘NO, I do NOT want to do this,’ or ‘BACK OFF!’ and make it stick. When I went to college, I knew people who partied like crazy and did some very bizarre things, but they didn’t have Pimperazzi shoving cameras up their backsides every two seconds. This is why I think that Britney is a valid topic of conversation: why is it accepted as ‘self-evident fact’ that because she is young and cute and a public figure, that she has to put up with a colossal case of sexual harrassment, day-in, day-out, in not just her working environment, but in her entire life? While I think that like any other person, she probably likes to be admired for her talent, I don’t think she bargained on the flagrant disregard shown to her person when the tabloids try to pry their way into her sex-life and hire artless, camera-wielding troglodytes to follow her everywhere in hopes of snapping candid shots of her genitalia.

    Thus, it was an enjoyable thought that she might have ‘gone Tantric Buddhist’– I could happily picture her going after her media tormentors not with an umbrella, but with a Dakini Flaying-knife in one hand and a Skull-cup in the other, soon to be filled with their blood, as she compassionately helped them sever from their ‘It’s-the-money’ egos with a bit of spontaneous Chod-practice…

    Posted by akkarri | March 3, 2007, 7:20 am
  27. DANG, akkari, what a great commment! And I agree with every word, including how disgusting it is that the library system pays for People magazine. :/ At the grocery store last night I saw the cover of some sleaze rag, might have been People, with the gigantic title: “Britney: What’s behind the breakdown?”

    GEEZ. Why don’t they get their asses over to my blog and get a clue that it isn’t a breakdown, it’s a break OUT!

    I’m with you, I think the sort of desperate quality of the shaving/tattooing/piercing (she evidently also got a piercing) is part of her asserting her ownership of her own body after all of these years of violation by all sorts of vultures and exploiters. People are so wierd. For whatever reason, they don’t get it that people the press makes “famous” are just regular people with the same struggles we all have, but one additional one most of us don’t have, and that is, having to somehow survive the really creepy, stalker-like, intrusive interest the American public has in its public figures and the way the media accommodates that interest.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 3, 2007, 3:23 pm
  28. I would agree with Cinder (including the *shudder* part!) that the various theories of post-partum, bodily independence, stalkarazzi-anger, etc can all be compatible. After all, she is a human, and humans are complex, not the two-dimensional cutouts that the media like to portray.

    Also agree with akkari’s assessment that the stalkarazzi are guilty of (sexual) harrassment. She has been in the public eye since a teen, and has no chance to grow up, express herself, privately.

    And more agreement with Amy/Heart on the custody issue. Interesting point that he shows no interest staking claim to his previous offspring. Surely that alone should get him laughed out of court? (In a sane world perhaps)

    One point I did read about in the general papers over here was that just prior to all the self-balding(TM?) she ran out of a nightclub after the DJ played her “hit me baby one more time”. If we add that to the equation of separation so soon after birth of kidlet #2, it may actually indicate some domestic violence on the part of ‘k-fed’? This of course could be concurrent with PPD, or even without it, could indicate the sudden need for the self medication thing going on.

    His sudden ‘need’ for custody (the power struggle, bargaining, punishment, monetary reasons) are all part of an abuser’s make-up/MO.

    Just thought I’d put my ‘grassy knoll’ out there!😉

    Posted by stormy | March 4, 2007, 6:36 am
  29. As always, interesting thoughts.

    I also wrote about Britney’s recent ‘transformations’ recently, amidst rumours that she had shaved her hair due to a drug test in her impending child custody case.

    It’s called “The Carnival of Britney”, if you’d like to read, and focuses on the media’s role in her ‘downfall’.

    Posted by morgan | March 4, 2007, 3:44 pm
  30. Had heard the same rumour (same paper, but think different day). However, didn’t make sense to leave the hair lying around ???

    Posted by stormy | March 4, 2007, 4:55 pm
  31. Poor kid, growing up in a media spotlight. She was such a sweet little thing when she was young. I think this whole business is about the children. Can’t see how a court could possibly give custody to Fed the leech!

    Posted by Daphne Jansen | March 6, 2007, 5:00 pm
  32. As a 20 year old girl who’s shaving her head on Sunday for charity, I loved this article🙂 It gave me a real sense of confidence which was very welcome as I’ve been feeling fairly shaky about it this week.
    THANK YOU!

    Posted by Megan | March 13, 2007, 7:41 pm
  33. “Yeah, hair has so many meanings for women. I think of the pressure on women of color to conform with “caucasian” hair–to have “good” hair–and the painful processes that sometimes requires. I think of the women in concentration camps who were also shaved. I think of the women of color at Michigan who speak out against and stand up to the stupid requests of white women to touch their braids.”

    I loved this Amy.

    Also Akkari your post was dead on. When I saw her with her head bald for the first time my heart was racing. I just stared and actually I was proud. When she divorced (wannabe rapper) federjerk I was PROUD I was singing her praises. GO BRIT! I am damned happy that the wall has come crashing down and that she is the one weilding the damn sledge hammer!!! I saw photos of her with the clipper in her hand and the look in her eye was FIERCE. I agree with all of you that clearly she is steppin out. Steppin out o what her lable expects, of what her “fans” expect, of what the perverts in her life expect.

    I personally think that federass should be SLAPPED for trying to use this as a way of getting the babies. I think it was a HUGE jerk-move of his to tell her 50 MILLION or the babies… JERK……

    AND GO MEGAN!!!!! You go on and shave your hair honey! I think its beautiful what you are doing. India Arie wrote a song titled “I am not my Hair” I think that EVERY woman should listen to it. (Especially you Meg.)

    Posted by Divine Purpose | March 13, 2007, 8:22 pm
  34. “Poor kid, growing up in a media spotlight. She was such a sweet little thing when she was young. I think this whole business is about the children. Can’t see how a court could possibly give custody to Fed the leech!”

    You’re damned right DJ. I second that!

    Posted by Divine Purpose | March 13, 2007, 8:29 pm
  35. Think how many shades of devastatingly coool you’ll be able to dye those little spikies in a couple months. And how inexpensive it will be!

    Posted by Pony | March 13, 2007, 9:07 pm
  36. lol @ Pony!

    Posted by Divine Purpose | March 13, 2007, 9:39 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Feminism, Hair, and Britney Spears, Gloriously, Empoweringly Bald « On the Wilder Side - March 1, 2007

  2. Pingback: What is wrong with Briteny being bald? A post inspired by Women’s Space/The Margins « Joanna Rees Photography - March 3, 2007

  3. Pingback: Blonde, bald, braided or baubled: hair as femininity object and transformative symbol at Hoyden About Town - July 4, 2007

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