Let’s Talk About Love Island (Who Knew?!)

This year I decided to watch Love Island. Last year the show got a lot of attention and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I also think that to have an opinion on something, it’s probably a good idea to engage and learn more about it.

The show could be seen as problematic from a feminist perspective for a number of reasons. But that isn’t actually what this blog is about. I want to talk about the #TeamCamilla / #TeamJonny drama that unfolded last night. First I will explain very quickly what the show is about and what happened. Love Island is a show in the UK where single young people go to a villa and have to “couple up”-  it is made up of sunshine, mini-challenges and drama. Camilla and Jonny recently coupled up and their relationship was slowly growing. Here’s what happened next:

To summarise, Jonny told Camilla that if a girl wouldn’t let him pay for a date, he would feel emasculated. When Camilla disagreed with this idea, he went on to say “You’re a feminist, aren’t you”, where Camilla replied, “Shouldn’t we all be feminists?”. At this point, my heart did a little jump for joy.

Now I want to say my piece about what happens next in the clip. Jonny isn’t sure about feminism, saying that feminism is about inequality and essentially argues that women don’t need feminism in the UK. Camilla then goes on to get upset about getting involved with Jonny without really knowing him and his beliefs.

I think the issue here is not that Jonny doesn’t identify as a feminist, but that he doesn’t recognise the need for equality. I personally like the “feminist” label, but I also understand that others don’t. There is freedom of speech and belief. However, you simply cannot disagree with the fact that women are disadvantaged and oppressed, even in Western societies. Yes, despite the fact we have a “female Prime Minister”. How? I’ll give you just a few examples.

  • The gender pay gap
  • Sexual harassment – The TUC (2016) reported that more than half (52 %) of all women polled in their research had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Cat calling
  • Abortion rights 
  • Tampon Tax (and the higher cost of “female” products in general)

In other parts of the world women still cannot vote, drive and work. Some are denied education and even stigmatised for menstruating. 

Gosh, listening to him talking about feminism and women’s rights (especially as a white, straight and cisgender man) made my insides cringe.

As soon as the incident happened, I quickly turned to Twitter to find out what other people were saying. I was pleased to be met with some strong #TeamCamilla posts:

“If you think Camilla is upset because of a ‘difference in opinion’ and ‘him wanting to pay for women’ you have missed the point. #Loveisland” 

“Seeing men moan about Camilla talking about ‘something as small’ as equality is exactly why we need feminism in the first place. #Loveisland.” 

“Remember though, Camilla has worked in many different countries where women have no rights and are treated with no respect #Loveisland”. 

However, the misconceptions about feminism and lack of education also shined through.

“Definition of irony is Camilla walking around in a bikini with her arse out claiming to be the queen of feminism #LoveIsland” 

“So Camilla pays 50/50 on a date. Does that mean she’ll only let the guy hold the door open half way?!! Get a grip hun.” 

“Camilla please man up. Wrong show for you. Tonight’s viewing was boring.” 

Feminism is about equality and pro-choice, in every sense. That means that women are allowed to dress as they like and behave how they wish. In my opinion, Camilla had every right to be upset, especially in response to Jonny’s shockingly immature attitude and tone towards her. But I know that’s up for debate.

I am pleased that a show like Love Island (widely watched and enjoyed as a guilty pleasure) is highlighting these kinds of conversations. Who knew it could be a tool for social justice? Not me, that’s for sure.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @maldrichwincer.

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