Justin Timberlake is breaking his silence.
Following the criticism he received surrounding the Britney Spears documentary Framing Britney Spears and Janet Jackson Appreciation Day, the pop superstar has responded to renewed accusations of sexism and misogyny over his treatment of his ex-girlfriend Spears and the way he handled the fallout from his controversial Super Bowl performance with Jackson.
Timberlake and Spears dated for four years before splitting in 2002. Framing Britney Spears revealed Timberlake’s attempt to control the media narrative after their breakup, shaming her in order to benefit his career. At the time, Timberlake said that he had slept with Spears while she claimed she was waiting until marriage. He also insinuated that she cheated on him in his 2002 video for “Cry Me a River.”
After the “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show, where Timberlake exposed Jackson’s breast, both artists apologized. However, Jackson bore the brunt of the criticism and suffered severe consequences, including being blacklisted by Viacom, while Timberlake’s career thrived.
Amid the backlash, Timberlake took to Instagram to issue an apology to both women and own up to his mistakes.
“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 wrote.
“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 continued to acknowledge his privilege as a white man. “The industry is flawed. 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. I have not been perfect in navigating all of this throughout my career. I know this apology is a first step and doesn’t absolve the past.”
In closing, he vowed to do better. “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. I care deeply about the wellbeing of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and I will do better.”
Read his full statement below.