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MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Fri 22-Jun-18 15:44:27

Guest post: "What concerns me about Love Island is the demeaning treatment of women and its effect on those watching"

Younger people need the language and tools to call out abusive behaviour when they see it and television can help open up the conversations we want to have with our kids, says Women’s Aid chief executive Katie Ghose

Katie Ghose

Women's Aid

Posted on: Fri 22-Jun-18 15:44:27

(137 comments )

Lead photo

“What can be all too easily passed off as ‘laddish behaviour’ actually has a much darker impact."

As a parent, I know how hard it can be to control what your children watch and the messages they get from the media. In the age of social media and Netflix, we don’t just watch programmes on TV but on our phones, tablets and laptops, often in every room of the house. The premise of the popular reality TV show, Love Island, would make many parents cautious about their child tuning in. Couples are followed by cameras and share beds with each other, with adult themes and language. But what concerns me most is the effect on the children and teenagers who are watching the men’s demeaning treatment of the women on the show without that behaviour being checked or challenged. Before we know it, our kids are growing up thinking that it’s normal to belittle or degrade your partner.

We know that Love Island is not our first point of call for relationship advice. But as parents we do know that children and teenagers look to what they can view on TV and online to find out more about what to expect in romantic relationships.

Love Island is the highest rating programme on TV with around 3 million viewers tuning in every night. We know that its popularity will mean that more young people than ever will be looking up to the beautiful 20-something singles on the Spanish island, and aspire to be like them.

That’s why I was taken by Rosie’s courageous calling out of Adam’s behaviour, and as Chief Executive of Women’s Aid wanted to add my voice to hers.

On Tuesday night, there were clear warning signs in Adam’s behaviour and his treatment of Rosie. It made for uncomfortable viewing seeing him respond to Rosie’s attempt to talk to him about how his chasing of other women was making her feel upset. He trivialised her feelings, blamed her for his wandering eye and smirked, mocking her throughout the conversation. Worst of all, he made out that she is unbalanced by questioning her recall of recent events. Rosie’s response couldn’t have been better. She refused to accept his attempt to blame her and called out his behaviour as simply unacceptable.

Domestic abuse does not happen in a cultural vacuum. Violence against women happens every day to women on the street, at work and even in their own homes. There’s a clear link between the ‘everyday sexism’ women put up with on a daily basis and the sexual harassment, assault and domestic abuse that women overwhelmingly experience.

Domestic abuse is often hidden behind closed doors, and is rarely spoken about. On Love Island, everything is out in the open, making it a good platform to talk about the issues.


Many women watching the show will recognise Adam’s behaviour as something they have experienced in their relationships. For far too long this behaviour has been dismissed and even normalised as men just “being a lad” or “a ladies’ man”. Yet for many women it will have made them feel demeaned, degraded and upset.

What can be all too easily passed off as “laddish behaviour” actually has a much darker impact. From our work with survivors of domestic abuse, we know that a repeated pattern of controlling behaviour in a relationship is abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse has a devastating impact on survivors; it shatters your confidence and self-esteem, leaving you feeling isolated, confused and living in fear. I know that many survivors of abusive relationships who watch the show have had to switch off after some of the scenes in the villa triggered disturbing flashbacks for them.

That’s why it is so important to challenge this behaviour at the earliest opportunity. In calling out Adam’s behaviour Rosie has started a conversation about what makes a healthy – or unhealthy – relationship. Domestic abuse is often hidden behind closed doors, and is rarely spoken about. On Love Island, everything is out in the open, making it a good platform to talk about the issues. The setting may be artificial but the contestants are real and many of their experiences resonate with viewers. Some of the behaviours on display are exactly those women tell us they suffer in real life relationships, which if unchecked and repeated over long periods have devastating consequences.

This week Rosie stood up to Adam and challenged his authority (“Classic Adam, using excuses, blaming me for his behaviour. He always thinks he has the power”). This was a signal to children and teenagers that expecting respect in relationships should be the norm not the exception. Younger people need the language and tools to call out abusive behaviour when they see it and television can help open up the conversations we want to have with our kids.

Meanwhile, in real life victims of domestic abuse often suffer in silence and ‘victim-blaming’ puts a barrier in the way of them leaving an abusive relationships. We need to stand together and call out all forms of domestic abuse, emotional as well as physical. It is only when we speak out together against abuse in relationships that we will see a change in attitudes in every generation and put an end to domestic abuse.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in a relationship, call the Freephone 24/7 National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid in partnership with Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.womensaid.org.uk.

Resources:

Freephone 24/7 National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid in partnership with Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/
Women’s Aid www.womensaid.org.uk/
Coercive control toolkit – to help you talk to young people about healthy relationships www.womensaid.org.uk/controlling-behaviour-in-relationships-coercive-control/
The Hideout – for children and young people to find out more about what a healthy relationship if and where they can get support thehideout.org.uk/
Love Don’t Feel Bad – for young women to find out more about what abuse is and where to get help www.lovedontfeelbad.co.uk/

By Katie Ghose

Twitter: @womensaid

KneesupGaston Fri 22-Jun-18 20:38:47

Great post. Adam has screamed red flags to me from day 1. He made Kendall feel so unhappy when she was clearly quite vulnerable. Eyal is a creep too with his constant hovering by Megan's side. He treated her like a possession from the minute she walked in, and last night he was encouraging Alex to do the same with Ellie.

LastGirlOnTheLeft Fri 22-Jun-18 21:11:22

Really...is anyone surprised? Porn soaked men are a complete scourge upon society. An utter waste of space!

whatnow123 Fri 22-Jun-18 21:41:57

He broke up with her (if you can call it that after 10 days). She wanted an explanation and sat him down to lecture him.

He definitely lied about the reasons he broke up with her. The real reason was he found her boring and he had found someone else in the villa more interesting and attractive.

RubyShooFan Fri 22-Jun-18 21:47:49

Thanks for this statement, My teenage daughters all watch this. I can’t stand it but try to use it as a basis for conversation. The Adam issue has been good, they’ve also raised with me that woman’s aid has spoken out against his behaviour and they now know the phrase ‘gaslighting’ keep up the good work.

Theimpossiblegirl Fri 22-Jun-18 22:22:00

Brilliant post. Sums up my own feelings very well (echoes my mutterings from the sofa while my teens watch it).

pissedonatrain Fri 22-Jun-18 22:33:46

What role models!

Brain dead filth.

smithsinarazz Fri 22-Jun-18 22:37:47

I can't bloody stand that sort of reality TV myself - it always involves people who I wouldn't want to spend five minutes with, getting increasingly intolerable. But I'm glad someone is commenting on this.
It's prurient. But - I can deal with filth, nosiness, gossip and insinuation. I can almost deal with the idea of watching people as we might watch dogs that we hoped to mate. What I find really hard is this particularly, erm, evolutionary idea of rating people purely and simply on their sexual attractiveness - basically, saying it's ok to objectify people. Bleargh.

NetofLemons Fri 22-Jun-18 22:39:46

Great post from a fantastic organisation. flowers

QuoadUltra Fri 22-Jun-18 23:07:38

I am so glad you’re drawing attention to this.

I think Adam’s behaviour is obviously abusive and had assumed everyone would see it that way. But, no, a colleague said today ‘but what has Adam actually done?!’

Trashed the trust of a girl publicly then twisted the situation to try to make her feel terrible.

Scott72 Fri 22-Jun-18 23:15:26

These shows are mostly scripted, and need to supply plenty of drama to keep viewers watching. If they showed only perfectly happy, respectful relationships, this would be boring and cause viewers to change channels. Perhaps parents could explain this to their children if this is a cause for concern.

smithsinarazz Fri 22-Jun-18 23:39:22

That's why I hate them being badged as "reality", Scott. Crime dramas, say, have baddies doing bad things to create interest; the resolution when they meet their comeuppance. "Reality" shows seem to involve the small-minded behaving in a banally selfish manner for hours on end, while the audience is repeatedly told that this is normal.

BettyFloop Sat 23-Jun-18 01:24:50

I'm not being snarky but...... are we heading for a whole front page of Guest Posts on FWR (wonderfully feminist as they may be) in a MN effort to hide the elephant in the room - the erasure of 'women and girls' - hoping to keep out the MRAs and save on modding expenses?

Call me cynical...

gingergenius Sat 23-Jun-18 07:16:30

Which is why I don't watch it.

PermissionToSpeakSir Sat 23-Jun-18 07:28:35

Mmm.. users of this forum are pretty well informed about these issues and I don't see the need to make this a guest post.

There is an irony in a forum that uses its limited powers of moderation to try to coerce members to use the language of an oppressive ideology they consciously reject- to tell us about gaslighting. .. confused

Onemansoapopera Sat 23-Jun-18 08:54:13

I think the issue is that "in a relationship" has been confused with "on a game show"'-

xcxcsophiexcxc Sat 23-Jun-18 09:05:15

To be honest I'm greatful for this article coming out. For 7 years since I was 16 I was emotionally abused. I was driven to the point of suicide with my partner laughing at me as I cried to him I wished I was dead, telling me I was too crazy for him.
I was gaslighted the entire time but when people asked me what he did wrong all I could explain was that he lied and cheated on me constantly. I couldn't put in to words all the games he played with me. I questioned my own reality all the time. I knew it was wrong and after years of this I tried to move on only to fall pregnant with someone else as the anxiety and damage made me so sick that I hadn't realised my pill might not be so effective (idiot). Another narcissist who didn't want to know his kid, and though I hadn't been close to this person for over a decade i was okay. I was fine. Because I hadn't been subjected to years of bullying and manipulation by my sons father.
though stupidly in th vulnerable situations I was I got back with my absolve ex, but finally broke up with him a few months after my son was born because My love for my son was stronger than my own 'happiness'. I knew I couldn't raise my son up with someone like him around , I'd be in a hospital somewhere on a IV after trying to off myself - or worse when then lies and manipulation reach boiling point again.
But I digress- point is although I feel adam shouldn't be condemned so quickly as an enternal sociopathic gaslighter from a few scenes on a tv show which Is mostly scripted for ratings , by picking up on these actions I've found out what I have gone through and has helped me heal as I know understand what I was going through wasn't all in my head and it wasn't all my fault.

Writersblock2 Sat 23-Jun-18 09:25:21

Maybe Mumsnet will do a guest post with some rad Fems who might be allowed to address said elephant. Nudge, nudge, Mumsnet.

RunMummyRun68 Sat 23-Jun-18 09:39:45

Love island is what it is

The men being singled out is a bit off in my opinion

What about the girls, why do they seem to be above criticism?

RunMummyRun68 Sat 23-Jun-18 09:43:22

* That’s why I was taken by Rosie’s courageous calling out of Adam’s behaviour, and as Chief Executive of Women’s Aid wanted to add my voice to hers.*

Not sure she 'called him out' but the new MALE contestant,Sam certainly did

GinPink Sat 23-Jun-18 09:53:17

I'm so grateful for the show and post as it's raised this discussion. I'd never heard of gaslighting. Luckily I'm in a great marriage now but looking back at a relationship when I was younger it's so obvious he had these awful traits. I felt like I was the crazy one.

If the show didn't run, Adam would still be like this and Adams all over the country carrying on but it would be harder to outline the behaviour and raise it as an issue.

Thank you OP.

JoyTheUnicorn Sat 23-Jun-18 09:59:16

Pleased to read this, and I'll be sharing it with dd.

However.....

There is an irony in a forum that uses its limited powers of moderation to try to coerce members to use the language of an oppressive ideology they consciously reject- to tell us about gaslighting

This

RunMummyRun68 Sat 23-Jun-18 10:01:58

Adam is playing the game

This is how they are supposed to act in order to win

He apologised to Rosie a few times. The girls all know the idea behind the coupling when they go in.

PanGalaticGargleBlaster Sat 23-Jun-18 10:11:15

I find it more amusing that people actually take this show and it’s contestants seriously. It is nothing but a vehicle for a bunch of vacuous fame hungry narcissists to launch there ‘celebrity’ careers. The idea that their behaviour or their approach to relationships is in anyway a reflection on real life is absurd.

Findingmywayeveryday Sat 23-Jun-18 10:12:59

I was mostly disappointed that the other contestants didn’t stand up to him more. Rosie and Sam did a good job of calling him out on it. He completely rewrote everything about not even ever fancying Rosie from the start to his new interest Zara - and she believed it. Despite not fancying her (allegedly) he still had a lot of sexual contact with her. This is all about power and I hate him being on the show, he is a toxic man.

I do think there are some stronger women in there this year, many of them are clear they will not have sexual contact so it is on their terms and the men seem to be quite respectful of that (Jack and Dani)

Jack and Dani are a good example to young people of how to treat one another, they are kind, open and communicative - although Jack did not call Adam out on his behaviour, Dani did and I do hope that by that couple winning, and Adam losing this is exactly the message that young women will see. That he is a manipulative unpleasant egotistical man

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