Feminism for the Love Island generation

Bolton School challenges the presentation of gender and relationships on the ITV2 reality show

How to solve a problem like Love Island?

That is the question being posed at Bolton School after the hit ITV2 reality show sparked debate about its portrayal of gender and relationship stereotypes.

Deputy head Helen Brandon challenged the controversial programme in a lunchtime talk about the use of fairy-tale tropes in modern media. She said the controversy around Love Island has promoted conversations about feminism.

In her talk, Brandon said boys are portrayed as heroes and girls as vulnerable. These stereotypes limit narratives for men and women and stars on Love Island had to fit the small categories and narrow narratives.

She said of the show’s ethos: “Finding Prince Charming becomes monetary and finding a boyfriend becomes raison d’etre.”

Finding Prince Charming becomes monetary and finding a boyfriend becomes raison d’etre

But Love Island has helped to encourage conversations about gender roles, she added. Pointing to comments made by Women’s Aid about emotional abuse on the show, Brandon said this would help others to recognise the warning signs of domestic abuse and violence in relationships.

She urged pupils to question what the show presented.

The new series is set to commence this summer. After its ratings hit a new high at the end of the last series it is likely to be a huge hit for the channel, but after a series of ex-contestants’ suicides were allegedly linked to their time on the show, there are likely to be tough questions for the format when it returns.

Brandon concluded her talk with statistics on how few women are in powerful positions today and called for “a renaissance of the suffragette movement”. She called on girls to empower one another particularly in light of the portrayal of competitive female friendships on Love Island.

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