Men can and need to be equal participants to challenge patriarchy.
The internet has been in an uproar since singer Britney Spears' latest documentary, Freeing Britney Spear, was released, showing another side to the pop star's life. The documentary showed the journey of the 39-year-old's tumultuous journey through her career and how she became a symbol of and victim of the media’s misogyny. Revealing the extent to which her body, her sex life, and her private life became objects of speculation for strangers, it discusses just how much she had to go through from a very young age.
It also showed the people involved in contributing to the emotional rollercoaster her life has been. One such person was singer Justin Timberlake.
Friends for a while as children after they met on the sets of The Mickey Mouse Club, it wasn't until 1999 that Spears and Timberlake started dating, according to Pop Sugar. By 2001, they were living together, according to an interview in The Observer, as per The Guardian. At the time, the Hit Me Baby One More Time singer gushed about him and their relationship.
"...I'm not ashamed at all to say that I love him from the bottom of my heart. As far as love is concerned, with him, too much is not enough. He's everything," she mused. "It is a deeper love now than when I was younger. Like, we've gone through so much together and we've known each other since we were 12 years old. We know each other inside and out."
But soon, things went downhill when the seemingly perfect couple abruptly broke up in 2002, and the former NSync member began making sexist comments. Not only did Timberlake brag about taking Spears' virginity, but he also wrote the song Cry Me a River in which he implied that she had cheated in the relationship, as per Reuters. Such statements plunged the Toxic singer into a maelstrom of media aggressiveness, making her all the more emotionally vulnerable.
With the documentary revealing such details almost two decades later, Timberlake took to Instagram to publicly apologize to Spears for what he said and did. The 40-year-old singer, who is now married to actress Jessica Biel, said, "I've seen the messages, tags, comments and concerns and I want to respond. I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn or did not speak up for what was right."
"I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism," he continued. "I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed. I also feel compelled to respond, in part, because everyone involved deserves better and most importantly because this is a larger conversation that I wholeheartedly want to be part of and grow from … " he added, according to People. With regards to Janet Jackson, his apology was in reference to accidentally exposing her breast during a Super Bowl performance, a moment that nearly ruined the That's The Way Love Goes singer's career. And yet, Timberlake didn't face the same criticisms and condemnation for his behavior.
"The industry is flawed," Timberlake continued in his Instagram post. "It sets men, especially white men, up for success. It's designed this way. As a man in a privileged position, I have to be vocal about this. Because of my ignorance, I didn't recognize it for all that it was while it was happening in my own life but I do not want to ever benefit from others being pulled down again." The father-of-two acknowledged that he has "not been perfect in navigating all of this throughout my career," saying he knows "this apology is a first step and doesn't absolve the past."
"I want to take accountability for my own missteps in all of this as well as be part of a world that uplifts and supports," said the Mirrors singer. "I care deeply about the well-being of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and I will do better."