Britney: Manipulated doll or dedicated young professional? Readers discuss Rebecca Traister's article about the soon-to-be Mrs. Federline.

By Salon Staff
Published August 27, 2004 4:49PM (EDT)

[Read "Don't Do It, Britney!" by Rebecca Traister.]

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this article on Britney Spears. I am a 22-year-old female already mourning the wave of young nymphets now coming of age after a prepubescence of worshipping Britney and her hollow gyrations. I have always felt sorry for Britney and the virgin/whore paradox she's been led into. Your analysis hit the psychological nail on the head. I hope, for her sake, she will get ahold of this article and read it for herself.

-- Keleigh Friedrich

Huzzahs for Rebecca Traister for finally bringing to a cogent, witty piece what has bothered me for so long about the age-long celebration of sexualized preteen girls.

While Britney and her mother have brushed off criticism about her frighteningly willing participation in the trend as "dress-up," what they have failed to catch is that flirting with the power of a sexualized woman is one thing, but owning it is definitely another. Sadly, while the vampish teenybopper image was craftily polished, edited and presented for mass consumption, her "development" into the reality of young womanhood is ultimately less interesting for her fans, yet it'll be far more telling because it presents the grim reality: that owning one's sexuality isnt exactly demonstrated via racy cocktease, followed by mugging for the camera and giggling like a little girl. Real women tend to know the difference, but real men tend to favor the former over the latter -- and little girls playing grown-up tend not to be equipped to handle the reality of either. Playing both sides of the fence is a dangerous game, and doubly so for Britney because her fan base -- girls far younger and even less mature than she -- is implicitly encouraged to follow suit.

Granted, it's the same hard lesson that all little girls will eventually face, albeit less publicly, but Britney's income has been hard earned by serving it up so far, so she might as well do her audience the favor of serving up the inevitable outcome as well.

-- Jeffrey Johnson

I'm a 39-year-old woman, and I see no problem with Britney. My 11-year-old daughter introduced me to her music, and I find many of her songs cleverly written, with instantly recognizable "hooks." Britney Spears is an insanely hardworking young woman, someone who has worked since she was 5 years old, and since then, has founded numerous charities for children. Nowhere was this mentioned in the article.

To hear her tell it herself, it was Britney's idea to dress the way she did for "Baby One More Time," her debut song. She knew that her audience -- teenagers -- would instantly relate to the image and message. We forget what it was like to be teenagers. Teenagers have sexual feelings. Too bad we assign any expression of such feelings to the province of pedophiles. As far as packaging: We're all packaged to a certain extent. We put forth an image for work, school, church -- every role in our lives comes with its demands. It's naive not to realize that ALL of show business is inherently staged.

Bottom line: All of the people who work with Britney say the same things: "She is a hardworking, dedicated professional, a young woman in a world that judges her harshly without knowing her well enough to do so."

-- V.I. Didier

I just want to say yeeeeeeeessss! This article articulates EXACTLY what I have been thinking and feeling lately in my pop culture moments of reflection. A friend and I walk along the beach every evening, and lately many of our discussions have focused on Britney, and why we suddenly feel sad about her downfall. The author puts it all so well. I, too, have been indifferent/disturbed by Britney's pedophile appeal. I always felt the "Christian virgin" angle was simply to make the old perverts feel confident that in their fantasies they would be "the first." I didn't care about Britney when she was famous, but I'd like to see her go into obscurity with her money, and at least some of her self-respect, intact.

-- Laura Budd

Salon Staff

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