Britney Spears: The world’s best paid Sex Worker

In Britney’s most recent video, she is seen dancing around a stripper pole. The video is being called ‘raunchy‘ among other things by the MSM. I’m sure that parents of teen-aged girls everywhere are freaking out. But the single is doing well at #3 in the top 100. Her fans love it. She’s making a comeback and although she’d likely never self-identify as a sex worker, everybody knows that sex is a driving force behind her fame:

Let’s face it – Britney Spears is exactly this. Britney is expected to be hot, sexy and promiscuous and she indeed delivers in her new video. And the lyrics – well, it’s Britney Spears not Shakespeare. I know, it’s trendy to attack Britney, but how about a job well done this time?

So what do sex workers think? Her pole skills are not particularly impressive and I didn’t find the video to be all that raunchy. I don’t see her being a woman who’s owning and utilizing her sexuality. To me, the video is more of her statement of compliance: They don’t want my music, they want sexual entertainment, but good girls sell records, not sex. Sex polished off and packaged as music videos, cd’s, concert tickets, etc has been selling for decades and is socially acceptable- as long as nobody acknowledges that sex is being sold. So will Britney own her sexuality and present a sincere public image of a successful, sexual adult woman, or will she grasp onto the image oif a sexually naive little girl whose sexuality is defined, distorted and distributed by the music industry?

Celebrity women have an opportunity to challenge perceptions about women and sexuality in a meaningful way, but it is a challenge and it can threaten their careers. Angelina Jolie made efforts to speak very sincerely about her bi-sexuality. It certainly helped make her an increasingly popular woman, but the MSM never really presented any information that helped the public think more critically about sexuality, it was just sensation as all stories related to sex often are.

So I guess what I’m getting at here is: a.) Do folks here actually consider people such as Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, etc. to be sex workers? Where is that line drawn? Do public figures such as Britney and Paris have or do anything that benefits/undermines sex workers’ rights? b.) Do sex workers who embrace their work and own their sexuality have the capacity to challenge the systems that narrowly define and market women’s sexuality in the public arena

11 Responses

  1. I think there are a lot of grey areas around who falls under a “sex worker”. A porn actor/model clearly is. But then you get into increasing shades of gray – “glamour” and “fetish” models who don’t go beyond simple nudity and erotic posing, then lingerie models, then fashion models, then actors who do sexy parts. Where, if anywhere, you want to draw the line among these kinds of work and say where it stops being sex work is kind of a judgment call.

    And certainly the resemblance of Britney’s videos to porn isn’t just coincidence. Many of her early videos were in fact directed by porn director Greg Dark.

  2. Well, I didn’t watch the video because it’s no longer available, but I can’t say as I would consider Britney a sex worker. Do she and others like her profit from “wearing the uniform”? Yes, but they don’t really do the job…

  3. Yeah, I see all of these points. I guess I’m having conflict arount trying to quantify who is affected on some level by whore stigma, regardless of whether they self-identify or are externally labeled as whores.

    What RenEv said about ‘wearing the uniform’ touches on it. Britney is both loved for portraying a sex worker as well as up against a lot of criticism. Especially with the child custody stuff happening the same week that this video was ‘slipped’ to the public.

    She has frequently been judged through the lens of whore stigma over the years, of course because of her racial, social and economic status the way that she experiences whore stigma is way way different than the majority of us experience it.

    None the less, a woman is being judged based on whore stigma in the public eye, despite this, she is still adored, topping charts and selling albums. Are her actions powerful enough to fuel a meaningful public debate about sex work?

    Remember when TLC were making music videos back in the early ’90’s wearing condoms on their clothing and singing about initiating safer-sex, etc. They were very influential in sparking interest and helping young women take the conversation about safer sex. I don’t know that there is a way to necessarily measure what their impact was in terms of harm reduction and solid results. But I wonder if Britney Spears’ comeback with the image of a sex worker can be similarly influential, regardless of whether she’s considered to be a sex worker or not.

    If not on its own, can action be taken to make her statements more meaningful and spark some public discussion? We’ve seen sex workers in music videos for years, we’ve seen famous and not so famous people portray sex workers in various forms of media for years- should there be some sort of accountability request created and made available that lists our requests/demands of people who choose to profit off of our image? Can we possibly use this as an avenue to begin approaching influential people who could be potential allies?

    It just seems that with the way that times are changing and the increased visibility of sex work concepts through art we have opportunities before us to splash around and make some waves.

  4. Okay, I’ve actually seen the video now.

    Brit is still a very attractive woman, something which has helped her in her career a whole lot. However, if she’s going to do a video wearing the uniform and playing, even fictionally, the part of a stripper, perhaps she should’ve learned to actually pole dance?

    there is the theory out there about stripping and sex work that “Anyone can do it”…and that may be true, but not everyone can do it well…if you are going to pay ‘homage” of sorts to something, or cash in on it, the least you can do is make it look real.

  5. I couldn’t agree more. Kid Rock’s back-up dancers do a better job with a pole than Britney does as a front woman. It’s a shame because they have videos that you can rent to learn how to pole dance for those who don’t actually want to have to patronize a strip club to see how it’s done. She did zero research.

    The whole innocent blond watching her own naughty brunette alter-ego ‘pole dance’ is kind of creepy too.

  6. “The whole innocent blond watching her own naughty brunette alter-ego ‘pole dance’ is kind of creepy too.”

    Yeah, as (naturally) a brunette I agree, but that one is timeless….often times in media, for years and years, the “good girl” is blonde, and the villainess is dark-haired. Meh.

  7. […] Britney Spears: The world’s best paid Sex Worker « Bound, Not Gagged “To me, the video is more of her statement of compliance: They don’t want my music, they want sexual entertainment, but good girls sell records, not sex.” Interesting discussion. I def. wouldn’t call Britney a sex worker, but this is food for thought. (tags: sexuality society women sexwork media) […]

  8. […] about what happens when you forget who your client is, and a playful discussion of, pole or not, is Britney the world’s best paid sex worker? Farley and the anti-prostitution types that rally around her are paying attention to us, which is […]

  9. Ok. People here probably don’t know this about me, but I’m obsessed with Brit. I have been since her second album, and the third album, from a dancer’s perspective, just cemented my love.

    This obsession of mine grew out of exploring the idea of Britney as selling sex to America, and being both accepted and vilified. She’s a bottled whore, but she’s the generally acceptable standard. And I don’t know if she ever had an awareness of that fact. Like, the super sexy Rolling Stone covers from the late 1990s, did she fully “get” that.

    And, if you’ve watched enough of her live shows–and, yes, I have—you see that she doesn’t even really sing. She performs. And I love it. I love dancing to her songs, but does that have anything to do with her at all? Is that just a creation that someone else constructed for her?

    So, maybe this is a statement from her—an attempt to say, “I get it”. Furthermore, is it an attempt to get America to recognize what they have been feeding off of, what they’ve really been paying her for all these years?

    Unfortunately, the performance in this video is just bad. I think the overall effect still carries through to the viewer, but I am disappointed, much in the same way I was disappointed by her recent Video Music Awards performace, which I discussed here: http://dress-me-down.blogspot.com/2007/09/its-britney-bitch.html

    I wish that she could have stepped into a dancer’s shoes and really played the role.

  10. I think it’s only a matter of time before Britney runs over a photographer and kills ’em. What happened to that sweet old Britney we used to know and love?

  11. it’s true, many parents today don’t want their children to grow up with Britney Spears as their “role model” considering that she has done all of these explicitly out of control things but they still allow for their children to listen to her music and also watch the tv reality shows with all these young people who display themselves in also very inappropriate ways.

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