There’s no doubt that Britney Spears is not a feminist icon. But she could very well be the most important female pop culture figure of our times — which is exactly why it would be nothing short of revolutionary if girlfriend ever managed to escape the poptart prison her handlers have constructed around her during her decade-plus reign to realize her own grand significance. Here, we plead our case to the woman behind the Femme Fatale image. Oh, if only we believed she were reading!

Dear Britney,

Here’s why we need you to get with the F-word:

1. Madonna and Christina. Remember how you once made out with these two in a wildly overhyped menage a girl-on-girl-kisses-for-media-attention? We do. And we wish that Madge and Xtina had been able to somehow pass a little feminism your way while swapping spit onstage, because they’ve certainly got girl power to spare. As much as everyone likes to declare you “the next Madonna” — and as much as we understand why — you’re missing that element of self-determination that Madonna’s had since before she was even famous. (That kiss was her idea — go figure.) While you’ve long denied your sexuality even while selling the heck out of it, Madonna has … well, embraced hers. If you haven’t noticed. Same goes for Christina, who grew up with you on The Mickey Mouse Club and faced the same pressures of growing into womanhood very publicly. She may have been the one who ended up in unfortunate assless chaps, but she never pretended not to know exactly what they meant.

2. Your lyrics about sexual autonomy. As it happens, your lyrics have grown in maturity, whether or not you know it. The producers hired to pen your songs have put some increasingly interesting thoughts in your mouth, taking you from the put-upon ingenue of “… Baby One More Time” to the sexually autonomous diva of “I Wanna Go,” off your new album Femme Fatale: “Shame on me to need release uncontrollably/I wanna go all the way/Takin’ out my freak tonight/I wanna show all the dirt/I got runnin’ through my mind.” For more surprisingly interesting lyrics, please see “Inside Out” on Fatale (about breakup sex) and “Unusual You” on Circus (about the shock of finding a guy who actually treats you right). Think what you could do if these were lyrics that you really owned and wrote yourself!

3. You’ve been a projection screen for a nation’s sexual fantasies for too long. We get it, this is why you’re famous. But this does not have to be your job. There are lots of other good jobs for girls like you. Which is to say girls who could retire right now on their millions and never work again.

4. Your sons. Don’t you want them to know how to treat women? That is, with way more respect than the world has given you?

5. Your massive power. You just scored your sixth No. 1 album with Fatale. The biggest producers in the business vie to be on your albums. You can do whatever you want! Wouldn’t it be amazing to harness that kind of power for the good of womankind?