'Love Island's Sexism Is Growing By The Day, So When Will The Double Standards Stop?
It's just over two weeks into Love Island 2018, and we've already had plenty of silly challenges, controversial recouplings, muggy behaviour, and a few favourites sent home from the villa. But while Iain Stirling's jokes are reliably hilarious, the Majorcan sunshine over the villa is always glorious, the infinity pool looks as enticing as ever, there's something not sitting quite right with me and that is Love Island's sexism.
Love Island isn't perfect by any stretch. It's aggressively straight, white and able bodied, but it puts heterosexual dating culture under the spotlight and exposes some the gendered dynamics and double standards at play in a way that feels impossible in day to day society. I think we can all agree that is pretty useful. This season is no exception, but while most of the contestant's questionable behaviour gets called out on social media, sexist nonsense still slips through the net sometimes. (And I'm not just talking about the contestants — the fans aren't faultless either!) So out of the kindness of my heart, I'm doing the viewing public a favour and rounding up some moments I think have more than just a hint of misogyny about them. Here's what's been making me roll me eyes in disbelief over the past couple of weeks.
1. The Fuss About Laura's Age Isn't Funny
Every night when I head over to social media to check out the latest Love Island memes, I see loads of jokes about Laura's age and the 9-year gap between her and love interest Wes. Sometimes it's her being his grandma or mum, or mentioning how old she was/will be in relation to him, or saying she's going through the menopause. It may be that people have a legitimate problem with the age-gap, and that's their prerogative, but if that were the case I would have expected to see the same jokes made about 2016 contestants Scott Thomas' and Kady McDermott, who had an age difference of seven years, or their fellow islanders Terry Walsh and Emma Jane Woodhams' nine-year gap. Except I can't remember anyone calling Terry or Scott granddads, can you? Nope.
So I can only conclude sexism. The treatment of Laura by fans proves that there's still a stigma around men dating women who are older than them. Last week, conspiracy theories that Laura had lied about her age and was in fact 30, sent fans into a frenzy, and were only put to bed by her actual birth certificate. Honestly, I'm embarrassed on behalf of Love Island fans everywhere. Laura is 29, and even if she had lied about her age, she most likely only would have done so because society teaches us that women get less valuable as they age, while men only improve. It's up to Wes and Laura to decide whether the age gap affects them, and things seem to be going fine so far.
2. Rosie Can Do What She Likes
During Sunday's Love Island instalment, viewers were informed that Adam and Rosie had taken things to the next level and gotten intimate. The next morning, Jack who had spent the night in the hideaway with Dani, enlisted Adam's help to help prepare his date a breakfast in bed. A sweet gesture from Jack, and that's about it, you might think. Except no, that wasn't it. Fans of the show saw it as an opportunity to compare Dani and Rosie's "behaviour". There were several tweets suggesting that Dani's decision not to anything more with Jack than kiss was a wise one when it came to ensuring he treated her properly.
Later, when Rosie discussed what had happened with Megan, the latter said: "It's 2018, women should be able to do what they want." Wise words. I just wish Rosie's detractors would pay attention.
What if Rosie and Adam's encounter wasn't part of some elaborate strategy to secure his everlasting affection and breakfast in bed forevermore? What if she just felt like doing whatever they did (I'm still not completely clear what base was reached) in the moment? What if she felt close to Adam and wanted to show it? Why can't we just allow women sexual feelings without making them part of some sort of goods for services exchange? It's objectifying and archaic.
Neither Rosie nor Dani are better than each other. They both just did what they felt comfortable doing. Jack's gesture was Jack's gesture, I highly doubt it was related to what Dani didn't do unless Kellogg's has brought out a new brand of chastity cornflakes I don't know about.
While it might seem like a fair comparison of one girl being treated better than another it actually taps into age-old ideas about girls needing to remain pure to be respected by men. And honestly, this is Love Island, 2018, can we get with the programme? I also don't hear anyone fretting because Rosie didn't make Adam breakfast after they'd done bits. Oh no, she must be about to ditch him the second she gets a chance because he was "silly" enough to get intimate with her. Said no one, ever.
3. What About Samira's Quest For Love?
Any self-respecting Love Island fan has been watching Doctor Alex's journey like a hawk, mainly because we get updates in almost every show. He's so far failed to find a match and none of the new girls has fancied him, which has meant a fair few disappointments. I've argued that while Alex is entitled to feel sad and rejected about this, it isn't the girls' fault and they don't owe him their attention or affection to "cheer him up." So that sexist side of things is covered.
But what I, and some other Love Island fans have noticed, is that while Alex's sorry saga has been given plenty of air time, Samira, who has had a similarly tough time in the villa, and been rejected by new arrivals, doesn't appear to have the whole of the nation rooting for her. And why might this be? Probs because we're trained to believe that men are entitled to girlfriends, whereas women, if they can't get a man, they must be the ones at fault right? Hence why we've seen so much of Alex's efforts to get some female attention, while Samira gets about as much air time as the hot tub. True equality would look like giving these two's "journeys" just as much billing, and the public giving them just as much support.
4. Were We Too Harsh On Hayley?
One of the most divisive characters on this year's series has to be Hayley. Her straight-talking ways meant she was by no means a universal hit. However, while I can agree that some of her comments were a bit uncalled for, I think she got a bit too much flack for some of her more silly remarks. While Hayley's Brexit analysis might have been a bit more tree-based than you'd expect, can any of us really claim to know what out exit from Article 50 is actually going to mean? And, yes her grasp of geography left a lot to be desired, but it seemed to me she got a far harsher treatment than other famously air-headed reality stars. While Hayley got an early exit from Love Island and an awkward plane ride home with Charlie, the likes of Joey Essex and Karl Pilkington get their own TV shows. Funny that.
5. Eyal Doesn't Own Megan
The villa's resident spiritualist and star-gazer in chief was the recipient of much criticism during his love triangle with Alex and Megan last week. But his getting in the way of the pair chatting wasn't just annoying for those hoping to see Alex find love, but also a bit strange and possessive. Eyal's main grief with Alex was that he didn't come and ask for his permission to talk to Megan beforehand, an attitude which would make her what, his property? No thank you.
Coupled up or not, in a relationship or not, hideaway official or not, Megan can speak to whomever she chooses because she has the right to exercise her own free will. If she likes you, she'll like you. But demanding that all conversation requests are submitted to you in writing (OK he didn't go quite that far but you catch my drift) is not just creepy but denies Megan the agency she's entitled to as an adult human being.
So much as we stan it, it’s clear Love Island has its faults. But what can you do about it? If you’re wading into the Twitter chat, don’t be afraid to call out any sexism you see, or if you’re catching up on the latest villa action with your mates and they’re being way harsher on the girls than the boys, pull a Camilla Thurlow and give them a lesson in feminism. And who knows, maybe just maybe, Love Island could change the world…