Love Island's Laura Anderson and Zara McDermott have become the latest victims of revenge porn, in a long line of contestants whose personal images being shared without their consent while appearing on the show. Last year, Tyla Carr and Jessica Shears were both victims of the vile crime, with no one held accountable despite revenge porn being a criminal offense since 2015.
The fact that this has happened to two of the six women on the show this year speaks to a very real problem in the world outside the Love Island villa. According to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, 23% of people have been victims of revenge porn, and an investigation by the BBC in 2015 showed that of the 1,160 cases reported over 9 months that year, 61% resulted in no action being taken.
Love Island is meant to be a microcosm for society, speaking to our dating lives in relatable ways, whether it’s Samira’s terrible flirting, Rosie being gaslighted by Adam or Ellie not feeling sexual chemistry with someone she wishes she did. There are various parts of the show that we can firmly say, ‘OMG THAT HAPPENS TO ME ALL THE TIME’ and we’ll go ahead and laugh about how Love Island mirrors real life.
However, Love Island also mirrors the real world in the worst way, and that's how lacking in sex-positivity it really is. It's meant to be a sex positive environment, encouraging men and women to be equally forward in their dating endeavours while surrounded by an endless supply of condoms, hyper-sexualised wall art and beds made only to be shared. But of course, it’s been proven time and time again that Love Island isn’t as sex positive as it wants to be.
First, there were the multiple times the girls in the villa felt the need to justify having sex with their partners, while the boys blissfully went on with their lives with no concern about people judging their actions. Then there was the creation of the ‘Do Bits Society’ (a group you're only allowed to join once you've progressed from first base with a member of the opposite sex in the villa - yes, really).
But the culmination of anti-sex positivity inside the villa came on Sunday night , when a challenge that forced contestants to reveal their number of sexual partners. It wasn’t the simple inequality in the fact that the girls felt that they had to justify their small numbers of sexual partners while the boys' hundreds were glossed over, it was when Megan reacted strongly to the assumption she’d slept with 37 people that caught viewers’ attention.
Megan, who considers herself to be very open about sex, was offended when Eyal assumed she had slept with what she considers to be a lot of people. Of course, the world jumped down her throat online, accusing her of hypocrisy after she dubbed herself sex-positive yet seemingly shamed women who had slept with more than 20 people (her number).
Yet it's hard to blame a woman for a fear of being judged about how much sex she has, when she’s grown up in a world where she’s slut-shamed at every turn. Just last night, Laura called her ‘a slag’ for attempting to pursue Wes behind her back. While her assumption that 37 sexual partners is a lot and is something to be embarrassed about is problematic, that is only what society has taught her, and we can’t expect every woman to be an ambassador for the anti-slut-shaming movement.
Because the reality is, it's hard to be a sex-positive woman in a world that isn't sex positive, and still perpetuates slut-shaming. If anything proves that, it's the very revenge porn two of the contestants have had to face just this week. Sharing sexual images of women in order to humiliate them is just one of the many ways that women are forced into inhibiting their sexuality out of fear of judgement.
And what is to be gained? Dominance. Forcing women to feel shame and embarrassment over their sexuality instead of embracing it, an internal battle that Megan is clearly struggling with.
We all want Love Island to be a sex positive environment, but the fact is, it isn't. There are no conversations about consent, something that should surely be raised in an environment where they're made to share beds, there isn't any diversity in the contestant's sexualities or body-type and they're all able-bodied.
So while Love Island has the potential to be sex-positive, it can't be in an environment that not only lacks diversity in people, but in opinions to. It can only be as sex positive as the contestants, and as the world allows those contestants to be. Until there are proponents of the sex positivity movement in there, the villa will continue to mirror just how anti-woman the world is when it comes to sex.
Click through to see the Love Island stars then and now...
Jack Fincham - then and now
Mr Colgate looks completely different in this old photo of him in the boxing ring. The self-proclaimed pen salesman has definitely found himself (and a self-tan mitt) since then and is now giving use all the feels with almost-girlfriend Dani Dyer.