When women profess to be inherently incapable of being friends with girls, they are usually saying one of two things: 1) that this quality somehow places them leagues above other women and 2) that they should be rewarded – usually by men – for it.
It’s a strange phenomenon and, in Love Island – a show that has time and again reflected an uncomfortable mirror image of the dating pool in the real world – Megan, one of the islanders on the show, revealed herself to be its primary advocate.
After tiring of the, quite frankly, dull musings of Eyal – another contestant on the show, whose penchant for taking an abnormally long time to finish sentences has earned him the reputation of being the villa’s resident “deep guy” – she turned her attention to one of the other men on the show, who happened to be coupled up with one of her friends, Laura.
Several advances later – one of which included a very pushy, private chat, in which she repeatedly attempted to get Wes to give her a kiss because she “just need[ed] some reassurance” – and, unsurprisingly, it all kicked off.
But, rather than expressing remorse for having betrayed the trust of her friend Laura (it should also be noted that Wes, too, failed to see anything wrong with his cold approach to the situation), Megan instead opted to proudly express that situations like these – essentially, pursuing the romantic partners of her so-called friends – meant that she had never been able to maintain friendships with girls.
It may be tempting to buy into the elitist argument that this behaviour is some kind of symbol of the calibre of people on the show, but it has provided a lot of women with opportunities to examine their own attitudes
The Love Island dating rules, of course, are much more complicated than the general dating rules people tend to follow in the outside world. Playing the game, as it were, isn’t always interpreted as an indisputable Love Island crime. Days-old flings can just as easily flourish into what look like full-blown relationships and falter as soon as new opportunities for sex or romance present themselves. But it was different this time.
Touting her lack of closeness with other women as a kind of justification or explanation for treating them with about the same respect as Adam (this season’s villain on the show), Megan sat back, giddy with excitement over the potential blossoming of a new fling, while the storm between Wes and Laura raged on. It was a hard watch. Not necessarily based on the strength of Laura and Wes’s relationship, which, for a while, as fans will know, has been on the rocks – but because of Megan’s willingness to throw away a friendship over it.
In an earlier episode, for example, during a game of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” in which contestants took it in turns to guess the number of sexual relationships their partners had had so far, Megan took issue with the idea that Eyal assumed she had slept with 37 people, rather than the real figure of 20 or so, as if there were some magic, respectable number that women should stick to.
“I’m a woman. I’m allowed to enjoy sex if I want to but it doesn’t mean that I’ve slept with every Tom, Dick and Harry that walks in a bar,” she said at the time. And, last night, she betrayed the sex-positive, feminist rhetoric that she often employs in order to reckon with her own internalised misogyny, with her actions revealing a lot more than she had planned. In response to Laura’s ill-advised decision to lash out at Megan by calling her a “slag” and a “bitch” over mishandling the situation, Megan said, “you're more of a slag because you've shagged more guys than me".
It may be tempting to buy into the elitist argument that this behaviour – slut-shaming and “pick me” virtue-signalling for male attention – is some kind of symbol of the calibre of people on the show, but, like most conversations that have emerged as the result of nightly Love Island drama, it has provided a lot of women, the commentariat included, with opportunities to examine their own attitudes when it comes to internalised misogyny.
Proudly declaring a lack of female friendships as a woman is, more often than not, a reflection on the way we treat other women ourselves. Rather than being proud of that, it should be a sign that a look inwards is probably long overdue.