Britney: Virgin or Vixen?

Britney Spears is not having sex until she’s married. Read the YM interviews. Listen to the coquettish banter with Carson Daly. Her faith in the Lord has given her that standard, she says. Not even ‘N Sync’s golden boy, Justin Timberlake – the heartthrob half of the American female fan pool would pledge sexual slavery to – can seduce this woman-child of evidently ardent scruples.

But Britney has found her loophole: The Bible directly condemns only sexual intercourse, at least in her mind, leaving open the option to simulate a sweat-drenched orgasm on internationally broadcast television. She seems to have adopted that oft-used “everything but” credo to which God-fearing daddy’s girls often cling, still technically considered “unused goods,” yet able to unconscionably engage in a myriad of other sexual acts.

And by unabashedly displaying her I’m-only-a-virgin-until-you-make-me-want-to-sleep-with-you image, little girls are learning it’s OK to sexually tease men and then coo and gurgle, retracting behind the safe shield called a hymen. They are also being taught men like this contradictory behavior. While some do, there is a small but very real number who won’t think it’s cute when they don’t get what they want.

A sick excuse date rapists often use is they had thought the girl wanted sex, she was dressed in revealing clothing, they became angry at the girl for “changing her mind” and they didn’t know how to stop after they had gotten so turned on already. Ninety percent of reported rape is committed by an acquaintance; this is why it’s disturbing Britney is influencing young girls to believe leading a man to the cusp of fornication and then retreating is mature, playful and safe.

But Britney Spears – sequined, bucking, sorry she just “did it again” – says she has absolutely no identification with being an example or role model. In many interviews, Britney vehemently denies being a role model. Upon the release of her third album, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard chart, Britney also said she didn’t want little girls looking up to her anymore – despite the fact millions of her just-purchased records are largely being listened to by freshly pierced ears.

She’ll take the fame and the royalties too, but the responsibility? Not a chance. Never mind she admitted in an interview that, when she was younger, she wanted to be just like Madonna and Janet Jackson. Britney now denies pop stars are to be looked up to – that job should be left to the parents.

But at an age when mom and dad are embarrassingly uncool, little girls often look to the older-sister type Britney represents to them. The way many preteens show admiration to idols, especially well-marketed and seemingly flawless ones, is to emulate them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing when a sense of self is already partially developed, but when the fragile minds of 13-year-old girls interpret the message as “This is who I should be,” it does nothing but challenge pre-pubescent girls’ identities. It confuses them about what’s right and wrong regarding their sexuality. Britney is hyper-sexualizing them before the majority of them can even fill out a bra.

Despite Britney’s assertions she now wants to target an older, more “adult” audience, it is difficult to imagine her pink folders and autograph-emblazoned pencils are marketed toward anyone but those which she denies influence over. Middle-aged men and thirty-something women do not buy school supplies. Girls with grabby little fingers tipped by pink, globby, polish-smeared nails do.

Gyrating in the faces of girls everywhere are her provocative videos, ceaseless radio play, countless posters, dolls, logo-adorned notebooks and signature Nokia cell phone covers. All these products blur girls’ vision with conflicting messages of sweet vs. sexy, child vs. woman – the ultimate, smoldering duality of the virgin-whore.

Britney’s earlier, more wide-eyed than bedroom-eyed albums were innocently aimed at the young crowd she is now rejecting in name. And since her fan base is still so young and easily influenced, she doesn’t have the luxury of abruptly deciding that what she does isn’t supposed to be consumed and mirrored by the same girls whose devotion, adoration and money made Britney the mega-star she is today.

It’s incredibly selfish of this giggling, glittery pop idol to accept that little girls will buy the products clearly marketed toward them, yet at the same time deny liability for its effect on their self-images. Without taking credit for the manipulation of little girls’ styles and attitudes, Britney feels she is able to openly display provocative, paradoxical behavior and dodge the accusations of selling sex to an age group that can’t even comprehend yet what sex is.

Now Britney is trying to reject little-girl admiration in favor of “shocking” the world with just how grown-up she can be. But to deny any responsibility for how her blinding, internationally recognized presence exploits young girls is positively childlike. An adult recognizes how they are seen through a child’s eyes and acts accordingly. However, Britney chooses to disregard her powerful role in these girls’ lives, still knowing the bulk of her idolization comes directlyfrom them.

By identifying herself with being more of an adult, Britney should be concurrently accepting more responsibility. But in true fashion of an immature girl yearning for adult privileges but without a clue how to handle them, Britney mistakenly identifies herself as growing up. But in reality, she is just playing dress-up with very little clothing.


Kimberly Jackson is a Daily senior copy editor. She welcomes comments at [email protected]. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]