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Why Are We Congratulating Love Island's Sam Bird For Doing What All Men Should?

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When Sam Bird announced his arrival into the Love Island villa, I was not impressed. Anyone who refers to themselves in the third person, even more so by THEIR NICKNAME, is not someone I need to see on prime-time TV every night. Then, he rocked up, immediately called out Adam for gaslighting Rosie and became the love of my life.

FINALLY, a boy in the villa who is actually going to tell Adam what we’re all thinking. None of this ‘he’s a God in his own right’ crap Jack has been spouting, or half-hearted attempts to stop him insulting other women as Alex tried last night, just cold hard truth. If you missed the show last night (and we wouldn’t really blame you), this is how scenario played out…

Sam arrived in the villa and the entire cast was sat grilling him, when someone asked what he was looking for, to which Sam replied: ‘I’m coming in obviously to find love and maybe teach Adam how to treat a lady right.’

Everyone of course, in the villa and online, erupted into madness, the girls celebrating him and the boys just shocked that anyone would dare speak against their King. Then, when it was just the boys chatting, Sam said:

‘There’s like a bit of a weird situation with Rosie. Personally, for me, I’ve got three sisters and if someone did that to one of my sisters, I’d be so annoyed.

‘In my opinion, it looked like you used her. If I didn’t fancy someone and wanted to go for someone else, I would have approached them first.’

‘I’m just big on making sure girls feelings are alright. It’s just how I would have done it.’

Adam, unemotional as he is, seemed unphased and responded with something along the lines of ‘each to their own’. However, it was more interesting to see the other boys’ reactions. All of them were uncomfortable, and the macho LADS LADS LADS banter went out of the window.

Sam provided a textbook approach on how men should be pulling their friends on disrespectful, abusive behaviour. It’s something women have been asking for since it became clear that our screams for equal treatment aren’t being heard, because as unfair as it is, men seem to only respect the opinions of other men.

We saw it ourselves after Laura pulled Adam on his treatment of Rosie last week. She was much firmer than Sam was, yet his behaviour continued, and was continuously validated by the other boys. At the time, Laura said:

‘It’s fine if you decide that you don’t like Rosie, you don’t have to like everyone but it’s just these girls have feelings as well and the way that you’ve acted is just stupid and you don’t need to be like that.

‘You don’t want to be with someone who is insecure, you’ve already said that, but your actions are making girls insecure. Just take some responsibility.’

Alas, Adam continued to sell Rosie a dream before dumping her for Zara, then minimizing all her feelings and re-writing history. Because, quite clearly, he doesn't respect women, and so why would he respect the opinion of a woman, much less a woman he's not trying to pursue?His behavior was so abhorrent it led domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid to release a statement, saying:

‘On the latest series of Love Island, there are clear warning signs in Adam’s behaviour. In a relationship, a partner questioning your memory of events, trivialising your thoughts or feelings, and turning things around to blame you can be part of pattern of gaslighting and emotional abuse.’

Of course, Sam has likely seen all of this play out in the media and knows exactly how favourable he will come across by calling Adam out. That’s where we’re conflicted, because for a man to truly be an ally to women, the intention must be authentic. We’re not looking for a hero to swoop in and steal Adam’s King Of The Villa title, Rosie herself has proven she does not need to be rescued, but only time will tell if Sam is truly an ally to women or not.

And whether he is or he isn’t, the fact that we’re so excited by him possibly understanding basic respect of women is in itself, disheartening. Obviously, Love Island is a contrived environment only showcasing a small percentage of men and women, so we’ve really not had a diverse range of male opinions to unpick- but the fact that NONE of the other men pulling Adam on his vile behaviour means that we’re overjoyed when one finally comes in with a bare-minimum level of respect is ludicrous.

The bar for a male favourite on the show should not be this low, but alas, it is, and Sam continues to be my favourite until he proves that he’s probably full of shit. But what we can learn from this situation is just how much it mirrors real life.

A bunch of insecure men are surrounded by one (almost too secure) stereotypically attractive man. They worship him for all of his vile flaws, disregard the way he treats 50% of the population, ignore the women in their life calling out the behaviour, and then only take note when another man speaks for us.

It shouldn’t take a man standing up for women to make an impact on men like Adam, but often times, it does. Because whether it works or not, and we suspect it would actually take extensive therapy for Adam to actually begin to respect women, it changes a group dynamic where men will stop congratulating and validating each others vile behaviour.

Perhaps if all of the women confronted Adam on his treatment, which we envision happening when he inevitably dumps Zara for someone else, or if the entire villa turned on him, he would change on the surface. But ultimately, on the outside world he would not face this kind of criticism, he would go about his life gaslighting women, surrounded by yes men telling him he's God's gift and leaving a string of emotionally damaged people in his wake.

So while he quite clearly needs some time lying horizontal on a therapist's sofa working out whatever entitlement issues have made him feel zero empathy towards women, we can encourage more people to pull a Sam or a Laura in the actual real world. Because this isn’t just women's fight, and if it takes an act of basic human decency from a Love Island contestant to prove that more men need to start calling out their friends, this fight is clearly a long hard slog.

Missing the old Islanders? Us too. Check out what they've been up to since they left the villa...