Why Are These Men Talking?

Matt Gaetz and Ted Cruz are speaking out about Britney Spears: why?

Why Are These Men Talking?
Image:Stefani Reynolds, Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

In the week following Britney Spears’s bleak testimony about her conservatorship and her desires to be removed from that particular legal arrangement, everyone with an opinion has voiced their support for her. Justin Timberlake, Britney’s ex who made a lot of money on a song about their relationship, issued a mealy-mouthed show of support on Twitter that centered himself a bit while acknowledging her pain. A multitude of other celebrities followed suit. Politicians across the aisle have also voiced their support of Britney Spears, but none as confusing, frustrating, or craven as Matt Gaetz and Ted Cruz, two men who have no business running their mouths about what a woman needs.

The end of legal conservatorships in light of the Britney Spears situation has united lawmakers across the aisle, with members of both parties sharing their support for Britney on social media and elsewhere. Cruz, a man who was widely reviled even before lying about a vacation to Cancun with his family in February in the middle of the pandemic and handled the bad press by shifting the blame to his daughters, tweeted #FreeBritney— a stunning act of both bravery and feminism. Gaetz, the lantern-jawed congressman from Florida who is currently besieged with allegations ranging from sex trafficking to sleeping with a minor, has taken to the #FreeBritney cause with zeal. Gaetz appeared on the wildly conservative network OAN to take up this particular cause, saying that Britney’s plea to be released from her conservatorship should be brought before Congress.

Gaetz has been vocal about Spears’s plight since March, which is coincidentally around the same time a lot of people took notice, thanks to Framing Britney Spears. In March, he and Rep. Jim Jordan wrote a joint letter to the House asking for a hearing on the state of conservatorships in America, in the hopes that the practice would be abolished. How interesting for Gaetz and Cruz, two men whose records show that they care deeply about women having bodily autonomy and rights, to be jumping on this particular bandwagon.

Though previously I believed that neither one of the men in question were capable of sympathy, empathy, or any shred of human decency, I still do not feel particularly moved by their support of Spears’s cause. The state of her conservatorship is such that anyone with eyes and a dash of compassion can see quite plainly that the legal hold her father has over her is unacceptable, especially as it relates to her reproductive rights, which are solely in the court’s hands. In 2020, Cruz and other Republican senators strongly urged the FDA to ban mifepristone, a pill that helps induce abortions, saying that pregnancy is not a life-threatening condition that regularly endangers women, contrary to the body of evidence that it most certainly is.

Both Gaetz and Cruz didn’t really need to say anything on this matter, but the impulse for some men to opine on matters that are not relevant to them is often too strong to suppress. Clearly what Spears is going through is unacceptable, but it is particularly lily-livered and unwelcome that they’ve chosen this particular cause to champion, because none of it feels genuine—it’s just another tool in their political bag of tricks meant to communicate that they, too, stand with women. The trouble is that it’s hard to believe their actions as anything other than opportunistic—two slimeballs who are former acolytes of the worst president in recent memory, attempting to remake their public images as men who care about women.

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