I haven't taken a deep dive on the Britney takes, but I think it's important to remember that music fans experienced 1999 as a vicious misogynist backlash to 90s-era feminism. It was the year of the Woodstock rapes, the surge in toxic masculinity bands like Limp Bizkit.
Spears was very much experienced, at the time, as a bunch of misogynist music producers issuing a blanket "fuck you" to riot grrrl, the Lilith Fair, and bands like L7 and Hole. It was the year of the great reclaiming of pop music in the name of misogyny.
I am recognizing that people who were kids then (I was 21-22) didn't see it that way and just liked the music (which is often good!) and Britney's talent (undeniable). But in 1999, at least, it was widely understood her lack of autonomy was the point.
Her first song was literally a domestic violence double entendre and she was dressed like a Lolita fantasy, i.e. the fantasy of a girl you control and rape as you please. It pissed feminists off. It was meant to.
And yes, I recall that there was some gaslighting narrative about how "hit me" didn't me "hit me". Which....no one actually believes, right? I mean, you can't do a domestic violence joke without some gaslighting to go with it.
To be clear, I'm not saying you are a bad person for liking Britney Spears, as I can see feather ruffling already and people making silly denials. I like a bunch of girl group songs from the 60s that are just as regressive. Music can be good while having abhorrent politics.
I even like a lot of Britney stuff in my mellow middle age. "Toxic" is a banger. It was depressing, in a sense, to see how talented she was, because it meant there was always an incentive to keep her in the pop princess tower.
Oh yeah, and thanks to commenter who reminded me '99 was also the year that Eminem released a song with an elaborate fantasy about murdering his wife and disposing of her body. Woman-hating was really the theme of the year.
For the people pretending that feminists are just making up the obvious meaning of "Hit Me Baby", it was clear to folks at the time. TLC passed the song up because, while they were politic about it, they weren't going to make a joke of domestic violence. mtv.com/news/1715769/t…
Indeed, the lyrics of the song are reminiscient of the Crystals song "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)". Both are narrators who are so desperate for a man's affection that they welcome violence, because at least it's attention. Here's a side-by-side comparison.
Coming up with a cockamamie story about how the lyrics weren't meant to say what they clearly say is part of the misogyny game. It is, as I said before, gaslighting. It's pretending feminists are "crazy" because they see what is obvious.
The other thing to understand is what “double entendre” means. Yes, it is just “two meanings”. But it’s often wordplay that involves plausible deniability, which is why it’s most associated with “innocent” jokes that have a sexual meaning.
“Hit me baby” is a classic double entendre in this way. It’s a play on “hit me with the beat” but also is a joke about domestic violence. But, as with sexual double entendres, it creates cover for deniability if someone takes offense.
Sexual double entrendres are harmless, because the people who get the "who me?" response if they complain are prudes who deserve the gaslighting for whining about a sex joke. But "hit me baby" isn't cute or harmless.
If you want some more Poetics 101 via pop music, please enjoy Nicki Minaj explaining double entendres at 1:50 on this video.

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More from @AmandaMarcotte

26 Feb
I see the hysteria-stoking article about "wokeness" at Smith delicately avoids mentioning that the centerpiece of Jodi Shaw's complaint is her boss kept her from humiliating herself by doing a rap song as a work presentation.
Eliminating this critical information to make Shaw look more credible is journalistic malpractice. It also makes your article less fun, because nothing is funnier than a white woman throwing a tantrum because her boss gently discourages her original rap song during orientation.
Here is the information that the NY Times casually left out of the "wokeness out of control" article. Yes, this woman was mad because her boss thought it unwise to perform a rap song about library orientation for students. bariweiss.substack.com/p/whistleblowe… Image
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25 Feb
Yes, it's silly and ironic that anti-science right wingers hide behind "it's science!" to justify anti-trans bigotry. But what is perhaps more important is it is not, in fact, "science". huffpost.com/entry/marjorie…
Actual science points to a different conclusion: The gender binary is not "biological". Trans people's experiences prove this. But so do the experiences of many other people whose genetics or genitals don't line up with the gender binary. blogs.scientificamerican.com/voices/stop-us…
False claims that gender is "binary" are eliminationist in nature. It's about putting wide variety of people who live outside of this right wing-defined gender binary outside of the definition of "person". Which, in turn, is about justifying violence against them.
Read 6 tweets
24 Feb
Coming to the mouth of the drunk uncle near your soon: The emerging GOP talking point is to simply deny that the insurrection or QAnon ever happened. salon.com/2021/02/24/gop…
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Tucker Carlson, meanwhile, is doing to QAnon what he does to white supremacy: Creating cover them to operate by pretending to believe it's all a liberal hoax. Image
Read 9 tweets
23 Feb
The Supreme Court did Republicans a huge favor by allowing NY to access Trump's financial documents. They are hungry for Trumpism without Trump, and can have it — if he's in prison. salon.com/2021/02/23/sen…
Republicans want Trump's base and Trump's anti-democratic agenda, but they understandably don't want the guy around who tried to have them murdered. But if he was in prison, well, that solves their problems. No surprise they're largely mum on this NY investigation.
Frankly, I think a lot Republicans would love a Trump-in-the-clink situation. They could treat him as a martyr, all without having to sit next to him while he farts and drinks his eigth Diet Coke in an hour.
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23 Feb
Not that anyone is surprised, but Ted Cruz's apology tour was total bullshit and he can't believe you — his word — "assholes" would dare criticize him for abandoning his state while people froze to death.
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And he does that creepy thing conservative men do, where they talk about how "smoking hot" their wives are, as if this somehow makes them more manly and virile.
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23 Feb
I reiterate my worry: If the message is "vaccination changes nothing, you get zero more freedoms", people will wonder why they should bother to get vaccinated. The promise that if we all do it, we get to be freed is not enough. nytimes.com/2021/02/23/opi…
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Otherwise, we're in a shitty prisoner's dilemma where everyone is standing around saying "you first" to the vaccine. We have to find some way to tie more personal freedom to the shot, or we're never getting to herd immunity.
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