What Love Island’s Maura has taught us about gender stereotypes

The arrival of twenty-eight year old Longford native Maura Higgins into the
Love Island villa two weeks ago shook the villa and the public so hard, we still haven’t restored our balance. With her fiery demeanour, unfiltered mouth and overall carefree attitude combined with her jaw-dropping looks, she could turn the Pope’s head. At the start, viewers assumed she would be the resident bitch of the villa, stealing any girl’s man whatever the consequences and unphased by the ramifications. Her actions towards Tommy have been deemed “predatory” and with her catchphrase “fanny flutters” she has been trending on Twitter every night for the past two weeks.
However, as time has passed and she has become more settled in the villa, the public has
ascertained that there is more than one layer to Miss. Higgins. This was exposed in the
recent episode when Maura and her chosen partner Tom were granted a night in the
coveted “Hideaway” alone in bed apart from all of the other couples. As they are getting
ready for a presumably restless night, Maura overhears Tom say to his fellow boys, “It’ll be interesting to see if she’s all mouth or not”. Leading up to this point, Maura had made
various sexual references and innuendoes such as “does she turn you on like I do” and “I’d love to wrap my legs around his face”. At the time, they served as great laughs for the
audience and were a refreshment to the other girls consistently reserved, poised and
calculated conversations around sex. Maura simply exhibited how girls, when young and
with their friends speak facetiously when high on the excitement of prospective romantic relationships. Admit it, we’ve all made a sexual joke towards boys when surrounded by friends. It’s not earth-shaking news.
It seems as though that it is apparently obvious that Maura’s jokes should be taken light-
heartedly and not to be held against her. However, both the boys and girls don’t seem to see it this way. When the girls were prepping Maura for the hideaway, many of them, namely Molly who presumed that she will readily have sex with him and command that she has to “follow through” referring to her consistent comments about sex and now that she is granted the opportunity to have sex, she must take it. It is quite shocking how the girls believe that this is acceptable behaviour. Everyone’s mouth is bigger than their actions and no person should be held attached to certain actions simply because they make jokes and comments about it. As a single girl, I make jokes all of the time to my friends about how I’d love a man in my life, but would they presume that I would have sex in the next opportunity that presents itself to me? Of course not. As Maura reminds us “It’s 2019”. Girls can have, enjoy and talk about sex and should be able to do so without judgement. However, a girl should be able to all of these things, but not to be expected to have sex at any given moment.
Over on the boys side, with their childlike giddiness, laddish chants and presentation of a
condom to Tom, they exhibit classic boys hyped on the prospect of sex. This is no shock,
we’ve all seen The Inbetweeners and we’ve all seen a group of Jesuit school boys on a night out. However, the problem that centres is that they act as if sex between Tom and Maura is an undoubted prospect. If you look back on any of the other announcements of a couple entering the hideaway in the last season or Amy and Curtis’ a few weeks ago, none of their fellow Islanders were remotely as excited. That is because no girl on Love Island has spoken about sex as liberally and freely as Maura. What that episode showed is that boys immediately link girls vocalisation of sex with how easy it is to get them into bed. What undercuts this assumption is that Maura, who is near thirty, has only slept with five men, a low number at that age in current day. What Maura has proved to us is that girls can talk about sex openly and enjoy it, but not jump into bed with any Joe Soap whenever they get the chance.
I could hear the chants of thousands of girls and women when Maura denied Tom of sharing a bed with her that night and told him to “Fuck Off”. That night, Maura didn’t just give the finger to Tom, she gave it to any boy who has ever assumed sex from a girl. Who has ever believed that just because a girl makes sexual innuendoes it means that she is “easy”. Maura is the poster-girl of female sexual liberty, because sexual liberation isn’t just having sex whenever you want, its choosing when you don’t want to as well. Maura has the privilege that many girls are deprived of in this day and age, which is that she knows her worth. Her attitude or behaviour isn’t swayed by men, she remains her own, never afraid to turn her back on an offer she feels is below her pay-grade. I think we can all learn something from Maura Higgins, both boys and girls. Who could predicted that a Longford ring girl who can’t pronounce her “Th’s” would challenge gender norms on an international scale.

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