No Woman Is an Island~ Love Island, and what isn’t Okay
The Fijian heat lingers pressingly on their skin from the busy day of kissing challenges. A light, oceanic breeze dances across the hairs on the back of their necks as they tip polystyrene cups with vodka mixers in. The gentle conversation of other lovers plays out behind them like the most beautiful composition known to man, alongside the hum of Marcel’s far off reminiscence of his days in Blazing Squad. Upstage, the six-foot-something sun-kissed dreamboat with the stubble of a warrior gazes at his equally pretty counterpart and sighs. “Oh…you’re a feminist, aren’t you?”
My heart plummets. The air stills. It is like watching Mufasa’s death in the Lion King all over again, only this time, instead of a lion being thrown over a cliff, it is my hopes and aspirations for this couple, and instead of Antelope trampling them, it is in fact Jonny’s blatant and undeniable lack of education as to what feminism actually is.
If you watch the show and know precisely what I’m addressing, oh my god what the actual fuck right? If you do not, congratulations. You haven’t been trapped yet. You still have a fully functioning mind. You’re also massively missing out, so I’m still to decide who should feel sorry for who here.
I’ll be entirely honest; when I tune in to ITV 2’s Love Island, particularly in the context of the last few weeks, it has ultimately been to forget the pressing issues and tragedies of the outside world- just for one delightfully numb hour of pathetic challenges and people who are far prettier than me. But the other night, when what had been my favourite couple Johnny and Camilla came to blows over their differing views on feminism, or more specifically female rights in the UK, it was as if the outside world of politics and inequality just couldn’t wait to smack us all in the face again.
26 Year Old Jonny Mitchell made it resoundingly clear that he felt feminism was an anti-male movement (let’s not even start), and that gender equality had been achieved in the UK. Well, pft! I’m embarrassed. How come nobody told me? I’ve probably been annoying all my male friends by over-peddling all this unnecessary hysterical feminist bullshit for years! Maybe I should bake them all a pie to apologise. I’ll find a husband and a bonnet while I’m at it.
He is contested by Camilla Thurlow, a beautiful and intelligent 27 year old who evidently took a wrong turn in the ITV car park and should be on Grand Designs at the moment. She points out just a few of the areas in UK inequality politics that Jonny, bless his dark, handsome and tousled soul, has skipped over. I thought I’d throw a couple of the bits and bobs that weren’t mentioned in the show down below:
- Jonny is right: sexism can’t possibly exist in the UK because we have a female Prime Minister! Except it can, because she herself is not a feminist. Despite what her PR team may suggest, setting up Women2Win, an organisation to increase female conservative MPs, is not enough to counteract how she supports an Austerity regime that saw the pay gap increase drastically, as well as paved the way for cuts to Domestic Violence services and Rape Crisis Centres. Sorry Theresa; as the ancient Arab Proverb goes, “Congratulations. You Just Played Yourself.”
2. Camilla- sweet beautiful shining Camilla, mentioned the distinctive lack of women in high powered Jobs. She could not be more correct. In 2016 the Financial Times found that Women made up just a sixth of senior executives at the largest British Companies.
3. Female MP’s. FEMALE FUCKING MP’s. I was flicking through (and by flicking I mean scrolling, because it’s 2017 and traditional values are lost on us. Bloody feminists.) Metro the other day and found myself staring at the headline, “THERE IS NOW A RECORD-BREAKING NUMBER OF FEMALE MPS IN THE UK”. Record breaking! That’s good, at least we aren’t going backwards. Heck, maybe now it’s almost equal numbers, and we’ll have women voting on issues that affect women.
…. Except in total, the number of female MPs after the 2017 general election is 208 out of 650. RECORD BREAKING!!! Haha, I hate us. At least it looks as though Labour is trying, with 119 out of 262 MPs being female. The conservatives have a wonderfully bleak 67 female MPs. Maybe vamp up the whole Women2Win shebang, Theresa! Offer to give out free coffee mugs or something.
4. Finally, Jonny wants proof that there is not gender equality in the UK? He need look no further than around him. Love Island, as neon and aesthetically pleasing as it is, stands as unbeknownst testimony to gender politics in the UK as a whole. For example, I’ve never wanted to punch my television set more, televised Trump rallies aside, than I did when last year’s winner Nathan Massey threw a hissy fit and accused his partner, Cara De La Hoyd, of being frigid after she refused to be intimate with him. What a bitch, right? It’s only a couple million viewers watching.
If Jonny’s memory doesn’t stretch back that far, he could glance back to his own series, in which Tyne-Lexy Carlson, a beautiful girl in her own right, tore down fellow Islander Chloe Crowhurst in order to nab her guy; this is not a problem itself, it is after all the point of the show. I find fault with the angle she took in doing so, highlighting her friend’s plastic surgery, and turning it into a negative point. Criticising a woman for measures she has taken to give herself confidence, particularly when the reason behind the criticism is the competition for a male’s attention, will always try me. Sorry about it.
Perhaps the one aspect of Love Island that was most telling about the UK’s attitude towards feminism, however, was the other girls’ reaction to Jonny’s confession that he did not class himself as a feminist. Here’s a clue: There was none. No reaction. There was the odd, ‘oh thats a shame because him and Camilla were so close and now they just aren’t compatible’. But guess what: feminism isn’t a character trait. It’s not like Jonny went “I’m a big fan of Man city”, and Camilla replied “Oh that’s a bit shit because I support United”. He may as well have said, “Oh by the way, I don’t believe in equal rights?” It’s a bit different. The lack of enthusiastic response by the other girls in the house reflects this countries internalised sexist thought-pattern and how we women can occasionally be guilty of unintentionally trivialising feminism. Food for thought, no?
And finally, as a closing point I would like to stress that it does not matter if women in the UK have equal rights, because FEMINISM IS NOT A MOVEMENT YOU CAN CHOP UP COUNTRY TO COUNTRY. It’s in the name: feminism campaigns for female rights. It is multicultural, intersectional and global. Flavia Dzodan, an excellent writer, once wrote a piece called ‘My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit!’ and erm, here here. In my mind, feminism has always been a bottom-to-the-top system; in this, I mean that true equality for all, including for those like myself who are extremely lucky to be privileged young women, cannot be achieved until women who are not so lucky are accounted for. It’s all very good, for instance, for female pop stars to be campaigning for equal influence and respect to their male counterparts (Not naming any names) (Tay Swizzle), so long as they are also using their respect and influence to campaign for the 125 million women and girls affected by the violation that is Female Genital Mutilation. I can campaign for the desensitising of the UK media towards female nudity, as long as I take into account and show an awareness that women in Saudi Arabia are prevented from driving and discouraged from working any job that put them in contact with men, and the injustices there. I can by all means be a feminist who happens to be white, but under no circumstances should I be a ‘white feminist’.
How does this link in to Mr Tall, Dark Mysogynist? Well, even if Jonny’s view that women in the UK had equal rights was correct, it would not matter; feminism, like many movements, is borderless. UK feminists aren’t campaigning just for feminist rights in the UK- if they are, they are not true feminists.
I don’t hate Jonny Mitchell. In fact, the curse of Love Island’s nightly episodes is that days ago I thought he was one of the best people to ever tread on that sandy shore. I only hope that dearest Camilla leaves him a copy of the Female Eunuch before they depart.