Why Love Island’s Olivia Attwood has been accused of sexism (again)

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Kayleigh Dray
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As Love Island roars ever closer towards its big finale, the producers are doing their utmost best to shake things up.

And what better way to rock the lives of the contestants than by, say, giving them their very own “babies” to look after?

That’s right: each Love Island couple was presented with a baby doll and tasked with the responsibility of caring for them. You know, like the traditional bag of flour that teachers would present to high school students, in order to teach them about the responsibilities of parenthood (and encourage them to practise safe sex).

While some contestants were left utterly nonplussed by the challenge, Chris Hughes threw his all into it – and soon became besotted with his plastic son, Cash.

Sitting in the garden and dandling the toy baby on his knee, Hughes became a little emotional, informing his partner, Olivia Attwood, that the experience had left him with a “tear in his eye”.

Attwood’s response, however, left Love Island viewers shocked.

“You don't want to set that kind of example [for our son,” snapped Attwood.

“Man up. It's a boy and you want him to…”

She trailed off, although the sentiment behind the statement was clear: you don’t want to teach a boy that it’s okay to cry and become emotional.

“Chris, pull it together now,” added Attwood furiously.

Viewers watching at home soon picked up on the problematic language that Attwood had used to reprimand Hughes, and took to social media to criticise her “sexist” behaviour.

It is not the first time that Attwood has been criticised over her use of gender stereotypes: last week, fans of the ITV2 show saw Attwood become annoyed after her boyfriend went to comfort fellow contestant Tyla Carr – who was devastated over Jonny Mitchell’s exit – instead of her after she was in the bottom four after a public vote.

Blasting him for being “too nice”, she ended their relationship.

“And don’t cry again,” Attwood told him, “because that’s the whole reason we’re in this situation.”

Following an almighty backlash on Twitter, Signpost – a mental health charity which provides counselling, coaching, and other support for young people – came out to support Hughes.

“They say men, younger and older, don’t feel safe to show their emotions,” they wrote.

“Shout out to Chris for being himself and bearing all.”

Their comments were a staunch reminder that suicide is officially the single biggest killer of men aged between 20 and 49 years old.

By telling men to “man up”, to “stop crying”, to “be a man about it”, we’re helping to perpetuate corrosive, dangerous and outdated gender stereotypes that prevent people from seeking help and, ultimately, destroying them.

It is, quite frankly, language that kills.

Images: Rex Features


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.