It’s A Tough Time For Feminist Fans Of Made In Chelsea

The programme is meant to reflect, not instruct, but that doesn't mean we enjoy watching the show's sexual double standards


by Daisy Buchanan |
Published on

I would describe myself as an MIC superfan. I’ve been watching and writing about the show since the first series. Well, if you count Twitter, since the first episode. I’d read about how 'TOWIE for poshos’ had just been commissioned by E4, and I was confident that it was going to send me spinning into some sort of foaming Communist rage. But it was ace! From the moment Mark Francis said 'Chelsea girls don’t eat!' and a tipsy Binky cackled 'This one does!' and waltzed off to McDonalds. I was hooked.

Binky has always been the nucleus of the show - embodying the spirit, sass and snap of the programme, which is why her storyline with Alex Mytton is leaving me heartbroken. I don’t know Alex, and in person, he might be as charismatic, engaging and inspiring as Jesus. But on screen… well, I’ve seen adverts for Tena Night pads which have had more of an impact on me. So why is someone as awesome as Binky being regularly reduced to tears by someone whose personality could seemingly be summed up with the words ‘lots of hair and shagging’?

To give MIC its due, this is reality TV, and nothing is more real than watching a brilliant mate fall apart at the bastard hands of a bad boyfriend. If we didn’t love Binky so much, this wouldn’t be a story. But it isn’t the first time that sex, feminism and fidelity have caused problems on the programme, and we’ve had to watch remorseless male promiscuity while women weep, or get horribly punished for attempting to be half as badly behaved.

Last series, the big storyline saw Louise cheating on Andy with miserable consequences. But Louise seemed to be on the receiving end of buckets of vitriol, the implication being that what’s alright for the boys is absolutely not acceptable for the girls. Spencer’s enthusiasm for all forms of sexual activity is well documented - for example, he claims he once took part in a ‘sixsome’ with a group of Canadian tourists(and at what point do we stop putting ‘some’ on the end of the number of people in the sexual configuration and just call it an orgy? I’m curious.) but Louise ignites national rage for daring to take her top off at a party.

To be fair, the last episode saw Spencer being told by Louise, Binky, Sam and Jamie Biscuits that he was, and I paraphrase, the worst kind of cad. But Spencer showed no remorse, and gave the impression that the telling off was a mild inconvenience at worst. Also, most of the people were angry at him for ‘stealing’ a woman from Sam - a woman who has shown almost no sexual interest in Sam. Poor Christiane might be the only woman demonstrating any sexual autonomy on the show. Spencer Matthews might not be a brilliant dating prospect, but at least she’s choosing her choice. Sam, the younger brother of Louise, has been demonstrating a terrifying sense of sexual entitlement all series. From the moment he saw Stevie cracking onto his ex Riley and said ‘I don’t like seeing people taking my things’, I’ve been feeling a bit sick. Perhaps in one light it’s funny to watch a very young man struggling to grasp the idea that he is not a movie hero, and learning that he does not automatically get granted a girl in the final scene. But in light of the events of last weekend, it’s terrifying. We’ve seen the very worst example of what male privilege can mutate into, in the worst circumstances. It’s hard to make a joke out of Sam’s behaviour, even though one is fairly sure he’s just a harmless idiot.

The women in the cast are not even always supportive of each other. It was heartbreaking that Binky felt she couldn’t confide in Lucy, one of her very best friends, about sleeping with her ex because she feared her judgement so much. But then, it was Lucy who hissed ‘Who’s the slut now?!’ when Louise’s cheating was exposed at the end of the last series. It was a brilliantly bitchy, dramatic, powerful line - and pretty much the most unsisterly thing you can say. We know ‘slut’ is a word that hurts.

For me, the Made In Chelsea world represents a glorious fantasy filmed in Instagram Kelvin. It should be about Mark Francis doing a trolley dash at Asprey, going to Cannes for lunch because you, er, can, and pardies where everyone decides they can represent any historical period by turning up in a trilby and a pair of thick rimmed spectacles. In a way, it’s great to see so much sexism seeping into the show because it demonstrates we have a massive cultural problem, and it’s one that can’t be fixed by a Bloody Mary. But I do worry that some elements of the massive MIC fan base are going to see the way women are treated on screen, by men and by each other, and go out of their way to replicate it. I know the programme exists to reflect and not to instruct - but if we can see men and women being treated equally and fairly in Fulham, maybe we’ll eventually start seeing it in the rest of the world.

Follow Daisy on Twitter @NotRollerGirl

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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