Love Island is a breeding ground for toxic relationships and misogyny
Elinor Jones unpacks misogyny and more on this year’s Love Island, commenting on the toxic relationships that the show promotes.
After over a year of lockdowns, love has seemed on hold for many of us. When the new season of Love Island started, it promised the escapism we all needed, offering the sun and sauciness that has been lacking in the past 18 months. Whilst things are getting frisky in the heat of Majorca, this year’s ‘islanders’ are proving problematic beyond the lack of diversity, cellulite and sun cream application.
Toxic relationships have long been a hot topic of the reality series, with the unflinching heteronormative format producing dynamics that are uncomfortable to view. Toxicity features in different perspectives across the show from gaslighting and misogyny to control and hyper-sexualisation.
gaslighting, belittling and misogyny have no place in long-lasting relationships. If the purpose of the reality series is to find love, depicting people who care about one another would be a good place to start
This year’s most stark example of toxic masculinity has been Danny, who did not get off to a good start after saying he wanted to “spice things up”. For people unfamiliar with the show, this is a regular euphemism for wanting to break couples up by “turning heads” and “testing” them. Later in Danny’s short-lived experience on the show, he appeared emasculated by Lucinda rejecting his advances. He gaslit the young islander into thinking that she was in the wrong, flipping her decision to pursue Aaron into him deciding to end their courtship himself. In a typical toxic relationship, Danny immediately moved on to fellow newbie AJ in order to have his ego boosted.
Aaron has often had a laid-back attitude in the villa and has been a good friend to some of the women in this year’s series. His misogynistic attitude towards “career-driven” Sharon when discussing their life goals, however, was something to behold. He was not willing to understand their differences in child-rearing aspirations. When reporting to the other men, Aaron showed that he did not listen or that he had twisted her words, suggesting either way that her hopes for the future were unimportant to him if she would not raise his ideal four children.
Jake, who has recently asked Liberty to be his girlfriend, may appear to have his heart in the right place – ‘proposing’ with dinner. However, he is debatably the most toxic male currently on the show, taking advantage of a young woman who simply wants a loving partner. On several occasions Jake has laughed or belittled Liberty for saying she loves him and did not return the sentiment. Regularly mentioning if someone is his ‘type’, his manipulation of her feelings is difficult to watch.
While the show is designed for entertainment, it is impossible to ignore that toxic traits are rife this season. This might be down to the format of the show but gaslighting, belittling and misogyny have no place in long-lasting relationships. If the purpose of the reality series is to find love, depicting people who care about one another would be a good place to start.