Home > Music > Britney Spears : Femme Fatale Tour. Gets Mostly Naked, Naked.

Britney Spears : Femme Fatale Tour. Gets Mostly Naked, Naked.

I went to my first pop concert the other night; Britney Spears singing on her Femme Fatale tour. I’ve been a fan and have been following the career of Ms Spears since Baby One More Time caused such a huge a sensation. Back then I was 18/19 and was only really starting to learn about feminism and didn’t give much of a thought to ideas of female “representation”, although obviously I was aware that part of the allure of the single was the kinky video marketing which aggressively sexualised a 16 year old schoolgirl in a way I – or most of the West – weren’t used to seeing (but have seen many times since in popular Japanese anime). Since it was in fact legal (and it’s legal to have sex with a 16 yr old in the UK) it was fascinatingly left to the viewers conscience how they dealt with the question as to whether it was an OK thing to be fantasising about.

I could write multiple blog posts on the way that Britney’s lyrics and her image throughout her subsequent videos has subtly and cleverly shifted over time from male teen sexual fantasy to that of an empowered sexually aggressive woman through I’m A Slave for You, Boys, Toxic and Do Something, the apex of the first stage of her career, before her public breakdown. Evern more so since then, rather than being the object of the viewer’s lust she has become an instigator, expressing her own sexual desires and inviting viewers of her videos to join in with her, rather than simply just to look at her and generally punishing male subjects that treat her as a sex object without appropriately inviting her on board.

However, translating that attitude from one media to another can be a challenge and I wasn’t remotely sure how the experience of seeing a beautiful woman (and her dancers) cavorting around on stage, practically naked, for 90 minutes would compare from a feminist point of view. Or if it really mattered. On some level it certainly felt as if I was watching a well attended, expertly choreographed, beautifully costumed softcore pornshow. Britney romps around the stage in her skimpy lingerie or gold bikinis shaking her ass and her tits around like nobody’s business. Up there on the stage she’s everyone’s ultimate fantasy figure (and yes, she does still look incredible, even though she did shave her head and show her vagina once a long time ago); everyone in the audience’s at least.

Did we all really pay £60 just to spend 90 minutes gawping at a hot woman on stage like pubescent teenagers?

Normally for my live music fix I go to metal festivals where, far more fashionably, everybody goes to gawp at some egotistical guy playing monster riffs, guitar lines very quickly and – so I’ve found out – to watch women in the audience flashing their tits. Ok, that’s an exaggeration but it’s no lie that at metal festivals, as well as some bloody good music, there’s a lot of testosterone flying around; and whilst there are gay men and feminist women in attendance it’s becoming a source of increasing dissatisfaction to me that metalheads – whilst generally a nice, friendly bunch – are thoroughly insensitive towards issues of gender and minorities. I love being part of that friendly metal atmosphere in which people are so quick to pick you up off the floor of a mosh pit lest you get hurt. I hate the aggression, the childish bottle throwing and the sexist jeering.

If initially my thoughts regarding Britney Spears on stage was that this is a form of legitmised sexism, that my craning my neck and jumping to get a better peek at Britney’s figure was little more than institutionalised lechery, as the show progressed I began to realise that, actually her stage performance, like her videos and her career are actually quite uplifting, inclusive and empowering. It’s a very different audience at a pop concert, largely consisting of twenty-something clubbers, a large percentage of who obviously identified as LGBT, and that certainly made a difference to the atmosphere. Without the aggressive dynamic, the constant male demand for sexual satisfaction there’s nothing inherently sinister with looking lustfully at a woman prancing around on the stage and enjoying her music. The audience at Britney’s show are content for Britney – as a female – to do and be whatever Britney chooses to do or be. By contrast the audience at an Arch Enemy concert I attended were constantly screaming for Angela Gossow, one of the most talented vocalists in metal today to “get her tits out”, a demand that would be degrading in any context but I find to be doubly so given the extra effort she goes to in order to entertain her audiences. Britney’s show is far from being the a moving version of a Maxim magazine that it could so easily be, rather this is a sexual arena that Britney has created for everyone’s enjoyment – including hers – and the LGBT friendliness makes one instantly feel that it’s not man gazing at woman in the audience, it’s man gazing at man gazing at woman gazing at woman. Maybe it’s an obvious point to those who frequent pop concerts but I think it’s a key one worth remembering that sexuality is empowering so long as one is control of one’s own sexual image and that people are not demanding you be something that you’re not (the basic central message of a lot of Britney’s songs). Britney and her dancers are very much in control of their image and having a lot of fun with it and so it’s not just safe to watch, it’s also a lot of fun.

This is a star obviously having a lot of fun.

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