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2003 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty

People who were wondering why Madonna had not weighed in on the controversy surrounding Britney Spears‘ controversial conservatorship really need to be careful what they ask for. 

Deadline reported on Thursday that Madonna called for an end to the conservatorship in a since-deleted Instagram story speaking out against the situation, saying, “slavery was abolished so long ago!” 

She reportedly continued to wish “death to the greedy patriarchy that has been doing this to women for centuries” and called the conservatorship a violation of human rights. 

It’s unclear why in 2021, people still need a reminder that certain injustices do not have to be compared to slavery, let alone any other past events to underscore the inherent cruelty of the situation at hand. What has happened to Spears over the past 13 years is a travesty, but it certainly doesn’t make her the sequel to “12 Years A Slave.” 

American chattel slavery was an institution that destroyed the connection enslaved Africans and their descendants had to their culture, history and language. It separated entire families and denied people a say over their personhood for more than 400 years.

It is that last part that Madonna was likely comparing, but there is a history of women being declared “hysterical” and unfit to isolate them from society.

There are many ways to denounce the conservatorship and lift up Spears without making such a comparison. All Madonna had to do was read any number of #FreeBritney articles and social media posts written after Spears’ recent hearing testimony. 

Instead, it seems like she tried to one-up other celebrities by making a bold (read: ignorant) statement to make up for being late to comment about a singer with whom she once shared a kiss live on stage during the MTV Video Music Awards ceremony in 2003.

2003 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty

Reproductive and disability rights activists pointed to the disturbing allegation that Spears was forced to have an IUD and unable to decide whether she will have more children. Mental health and disability justice advocates have also denounced Spears’ account of forced medication. 

Support for Spears increased after a transcript of her testimony about the cruel nature of her conservatorship was made public. Her case highlights many of the issues with conservatorships. 

Elie Mystal, the justice correspondent for The Nation, wrote that Spears’ situation is unfortunately not unique. He compared conservatorships in general to being similar to parent-child relationships. Mystal also described the difficulty in ending such agreements even when there are credible allegations of abuse. 

Once a provocative star, Madonna, has become rather thoughtless over the years, drawing criticism for using depictions of Nelson Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote her “Rebel Heart” album in 2015. A year earlier, she got checked for using the hashtag #disnigga on a picture of her son.


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2018 MTV Video Music Awards - Show
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