An Open Letter to Camilla and Love Island

Earlier tonight, more so than fighting about throwing a pillow in someone’s face, or who fancies whose partner, Love Island aired its most important argument to date.

In a small conversation, with a small-minded boy, Camilla stood up for the rights of every person, of every gender, across the world. With dignity, poise and an articulate response, Camilla demonstrated that she is not only an outstanding model of modern feminism, but a total national treasure.

If you haven’t seen the conversation, it went from a discussion of who “should” pay on dates, to whether we’ve achieved gender equality.

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“You’re a feminist aren’t you?”

“Shouldn’t we all be?”

In a matter of minutes, Camilla became so much better than everything Love Island stands for whilst Jonny exemplified privilege, ignorance, and offended a nation of women (and men – including himself) in the process. It’s not about who pays for dinner, or what gender our Prime Minister is. It’s far broader. Strict and binary notions of gender are intrinsically connected to a whole range of serious issues for women and men. In particular, the pressure around what constitutes masculinity, or ‘being a man’ (including paying for dinner, among other things) is directly linked to the high numbers of male depression, and ultimately suicide. In fact, suicide is now the single biggest cause of death in men aged 20–49 in England and Wales. There is simply no denying the direct effects that the pressure to conform to gender roles has within our society.

For women, it’s larger. Aside from the relationship that traditional constructions of gender roles has with the objectification, sexualisation, and sexual abuse of women- the effects of institutionalised sexism go further back and have different constraints. Camilla is right about gender inequality in business; the pay gap is still a thing and we don’t have enough women in high power or high paying positions. It’s a fact that there are more CEO’s named John in the UK, than there are CEO women, which is perhaps even more ironic given that this uneducated sexist in question is named Jonny. If that’s not ridiculous, I don’t know what is.

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Image from the Guardian

Speaking of ridiculous, Jonny’s reaction to the fall-out of such a serious, political and relevant disagreement was immature, egocentric and completely naïve. He managed to spend half a day complaining that Camilla was “bitching” about him because he’s a slob. Hun, if Camilla managed to keep her cool while you offended her entire view on gender politics, society and the world, I think we can call your little strop a minor overreaction.

Jonny’s blatant misogyny, his lack of respect and the widespread reaction from people on twitter telling Camilla to calm down, is exactly why we need feminism. And for all the people who think we need to lighten up on the issue, maybe once the pay gap is closed we’ll be able to afford a new sense of humour.

To ITV & Love Island, thank you for airing such an important argument among all the superficialities which make the show such easy, addictive watching. Whether it was conscious or not, you’ve further opened up a space for people to consider the rights of others, and themselves. You presented people, sat in their homes, on their sofas, with a important and relevant topic for discussion, whether they liked it or not.

Camilla, you’re a role model. Your calm bravery in standing up for a movement which benefits even the most arrogant and ungrateful members of our society is beyond admirable, and you carried yourself better than I ever would have. You deserve far better than the types of guys who feel best about themselves when they present their credit card at zizzis.

If you’ve read this and are confused or rolling your eyes & doing a Jonny, here are some of my favourite helpful articles, links and statistics explaining exactly why you’re wrong / uneducated, and / or misogynistic x

My Piece for International Women’s Day

The Sexism You Can’t Quite Prove

Johns, Davids & Ians Outnumber Women in FTSE 100 Companies

Gender Inequality Affects Men Too

A Crisis of Masculinity Men Are Struggling to Cope With

As Boys We Are Told To Be Brave

Male Suicide

You Might Not Be A Male Feminist, You Could Just Be An Asshole

I’m Tired Of Being Kind To Creepy Men In Order To Stay Safe

Stop Calling Women Girls, Why The Language We Use Matters

 

 

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