She Pop: 1, 2, 3, No: Why Britney's New Single Is Not “Deviant”

Sady Doyle
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Sady Doyle is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She is the founder of the blog Tiger Beatdown and the author of Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock and Fear, and Why. Her writing has appeared in The GuardianThe Atlantic, The Awl, Buzzfeed, and all across the internet.  ​

Oh, my goodness! Britney Spears has released a new single! And it is about SEXUAL ACTIVITY! To be precise, it concerns threesomes - the song is entitled "3," just so that you don't miss its subtle and highly coded message - which have been scientifically determined to be the single tamest and most socially acceptable form of sexual experimentation aside from heterosexual girl-on-girl makeouts at bars and/or on Spring Break. So, of course, people are calling it "deviant" and giggling about it like schoolchildren.

The biggest problem with the song - which is available for your listening pleasure here, and yes, you can thank me later - is that it is actually just not very good. It sounds, basically, like Britney caught in a trash compactor made of crappy synth horns, up until the part that sounds sort of like the part of the Justin Timberlake album that sounded sort of like Interpol, and then the wall of terrible synth horns and banging noise closes in on you again and it is all over for you and/or Britney. I am all for songs that are wilfully, gleefully stupid, but this just sounds kind of stupid on accident. And edges into Katy Perry "let's just pretend that I'm totally into all that porn shit you're into, cause that's 'naughty'" territory, with corresponding Gross Feeling That You Get When Someone's Enthusiasm Level Is Clearly Not As High As They Would Like You To Think(TM). The only thing that saves it from complete Perryanism, honestly, is that Britney can be convincingly sleazy, whereas Katy Perry always seems like the girl who tells you she totally DOES have a boyfriend and she MET HIM AT SUMMER CAMP and NO HE'S NOT COMING TO VISIT YOU CAN'T MEET HIM. Also, the song appears to be from the point of view of a lady trying to convince a dude to bring another dude onto the scene. Peter, Paul, and Mary! The FORBIDDEN THREESOME! Take THAT, entrenched homophobia and sexist constructions of human sexuality wherein women are routinely expected to fake desire and/or "lesbian" desire in order to fulfull the needs of the dudelier gender! This has surely... um, dented you somewhat. Maybe. Actually, no, it probably hasn't.

But, no. We need to talk about whether it is APPROPRIATE TO SING ABOUT THE THREESOMES, apparently. Ontario Now sniffs that Britney is basically making the children of the world into threesome-crazed maniacs: the song "condones a threesome as an acceptable means of sexual expression" - oh NO! - even though her fans are assumed to be the rare adolescents in the world who have never heard absolutely anything about sex whatsoever, and so "Spears' target audience does not understand what a threesome is
exactly, but with enough investigative energy and prodding, the "tween"
will in a few years be following suit." Threesome-crazed maniacs, I tell you!  Melysa Schmitt suggests that Britney may be driving her own children to huff glue with all this public harlotry - "I found myself wondering if it's appropriate for a mother of two young boys to sing about deviant sexual behavior. Yes being a pop star is her job, but she also has another one: It's called motherhood" - then does us all the favor of tacking on some weird confused rambling video that contradicts all of the above so NONE of us can have any idea what she is talking about. Oh, and speaking of not knowing what people are talking about: some people, apparently, feel the need to write articles about what it could possibly mean. Because apparently the meaning of lyrics such as "1,2,3 / Gettin' down with three Ps" eludes all but the most well-trained scholars. 

You guys. Threesomes are not "deviant." They are not scandalous. They are not controversial. They are not even especially rare. Which is why a major pop star was able to release a song about them. If she'd released a single about, I don't know, pony play, you might have a point - judgey and sex-negative though that point would be. Spears is rehashing a fairly tired, mainstream fantasy. She sounds pretty bored and the results are, to be honest, pretty boring. The slut-shaming surrounding all of this is out of touch and silly. Yes! Britney Spears released a single! And it concerns SEXUAL ACTIVITY! Just like every other single she has released in this decade. But it's predictable: even if these cliched, lackluster imitations of one specific sexual fantasy are what the culture demands and produces in huge numbers, the women who step up to embody or imitate them will always be called down.

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1 Comment Has Been Posted

OMG - pony play! Sady, you

OMG - pony play! Sady, you cracked me up with that. I would LOVE for Britney to write a song about ponies in the stable, a la Anne Rice. I would download that shit in a second!

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