When you think of Love Island, the first thing that doesn’t spring to mind is feminism. But yesterday – *yesterday* – that all changed forever.
Even if you don’t watch Love Island, you are probably aware of its existence. A reality show where, for seven weeks, a horde of bronzed, horny singletons shack up in a luxury villa in the middle of summer and basically shag like dogs in heat for our amusement. The ultimate goal of Love Island is not really about love at all; it’s all about using your sexual prowess (aka, your ‘graft’) to couple up with someone and win 50 grand. Love Island is not about male or female equality, it’s just about sex. In fact, until tonight, the words ‘feminism’ or ‘equality’ were probably never uttered once on camera. But now, all that’s changed and it only took two simple sentences:
Jonny: “You’re a feminist aren’t you?”
Camilla: “Shouldn’t we all be?”
Let me introduce you to Jonny and Camilla, one of the newly created couples on the show. Jonny is a geezer from Essex with an accent as thick as his chest hair and the smile of someone whose just discovered that Wetherspoons offer 2 for 1 on selected cocktail jugs. Camilla is a humanitarian worker whose day job is Explosive Ordnance Disposal and now, strangely enough, as the newest feminist icon of our age. Because, and get this right lads, it turns out that, actually even though a woman might like to don a bikini and some fake tan and travel to a remote Spanish island for a reality TV show, it doesn’t mean that she is in any way inclined to compromise her feminism or tolerate any mansplaining bullshit.
As soon as Camilla appeared on camera in her introductory VT, it seemed she was out of place. By all intents slightly meek and a self-confessed introvert who found it hard to open up to people, Camilla became some hing of a dark horse in the competition when she coupled up with new arrival Jonny after they’d connected on a date. She swore that she was going to take things slow, and Jonny – brazen, confident, but not too overconfident – seemed happy to move along at a slower pace, just when other couples in the villa started shifting up a gear (or several).
In fact, it all seemed to be going rather well for Camilla and Jonny. They’d bonded and, sure, they were sexually attracted to one another, but they weren’t waiting to tear each other’s clothes off and have at it while yer da’s sitting down watching with his fifth can of the night. Other couples were copping off and getting it off (I believe the exact words of one contestant in the night were ‘wrong hole’) Jonny seemed taken – as we all were – with Camilla’s calm and mature demeanour. This was not a lady to put out in the first date, and this was not a lady you simply pied off. She went out with Prince Harry for God’s sake.
However, the road to true love never did run smooth and Camilla and Jonny (Camonny as I’d nicknamed them in my head) hit one hell of a bump last night. It all started, innocently enough it seemed, as they Jonny brought up the fact that he likes to pay for his date’s meals and whatnot when they go out (for context: this conversation was tame into comparison to the proximity of two couples imploding because some bloke fancied some bird and didn’t tell the other geezer who was seeing the gal in question, etc etc), Camilla then pointed out that, actually, she would find it un-fair if she let Jonny pay for everything, since she thinks, for the sake of equality, women should be allowed to pay their own way, even though his intentions were noble.
“Oh, you’re a feminist aren’t you?”
With that question – framed, and spoken, as if it was something to be ashamed of, may I add – Camilla’s and the nation’s eyes rolled collectively as one. This is not what we needed from you, Jonny. And then, to put it simply for you, reader, Camilla went in. She told Jonny that feminism is equality and it’s a fact that women are un-equal to men in our modern society. He demanded proof, statistics and she handily offered him up that, while our Prime Minister (for now) might be female, the large majority of high-powered jobs that rule and run industries are held by men. And feminism’s greatest power is not to start uprisings and topple empires (even though, admittedly, that would rock) its that if we as a generation can educate and change people’s view and opinions on feminism and gender equality – not as simply a belief but as an act – then less men like Jonny, who are all well and happy to count themselves as for equality but balk at the sign of the F-Bomb or some simple criticism to his way of thinking, would exist.
It was, truth be told, a sight to behold. A sight that is, sadly , completely un-common in the reality TV landscape. I have, personally, never seen a woman contest and defend her feminism in-front of a man so virulently before. Jonny tried to mansplain feminism to her (“yeah, but it’s not like equality, is it”) and she corrected him. Again and again. Love Island is a show about tits and fake and fucking, not about feminism or the dichotomy between male privilege and female empowerment. But tonight, for five solid minutes, it was. And Camilla was the most impassioned, informed and welcoming figure for this moment.
I would spend the rest of this article telling you about the fall-out from the argument itself, Camilla’s sadness at letting her guard down for a man she didn’t really know and whose beliefs were so far apart from her own, or Jonny’s misplaced anger at Camilla’s ‘bitchiness’ (yet another way to demean and delegitimise her actions as a woman), but that doesn’t really matter. Even if you never watch another minute of Love Island again – even if you never have, or never will – this was simply essential viewing. An empowered woman standing up for and openly celebrating her feminism in the face of a man who didn’t and wouldn’t understand her. Camilla, for five brief minutes, showed us all what standing up for your equality and your beliefs looks like, and we should all thank her.
And all on Love Island, a show that’s just about fucking. Fancy that, eh.
Get Volume #19 here.
Words by George Griffiths