Love Island: immoral or educational?

Love Island causes controversy and I’m not just talking about how the relationships unfold in the house. It can create a response a bit like Marmite: you love or hate it.

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So what do different people think about it?

Ophelia Stimpson, a 25-year-old Oxford grad, argues that the programme “operates on a number of levels and is actually quite a clever show because it does create a theatre, which panders to ‘intelligent’ viewers.” She explains: “It actually refers to the people in it as the ‘cast’ and ‘characters’, which is interesting. It’s hilarious because the way it’s edited makes it look like they can only comprehend the situation in front of them, with zero emotional depth.”

Other people really enjoy the pure comedy. There’s clever editing and there’s the simple relaying of conversations. “What’s the Lake District?”, Adam asked Sophie in 2016’s show. “It’s… a district with lots of lakes,” she started hesitantly. “You’ve got Belfast there… What’s the stretch of sea between England and Ireland?” she then asked the other contestants across the swimming pool. “The English Channel?” one of them suggested, which sent all lovers of Geography into a tailspin. This year we had Hayley’s confusion about Brexit.

Georgia: So what do you think about Brexit?

Hayley: What’s that?

Georgia: Where we’re leaving the European Union

Hayley: I seriously don’t have a clue…

Samira: So it was to leave the EU so we wouldn’t be part of Europe

Hayley: Oh the EU, yeah, yeah

Georgia: Which would mean like welfare, and like things we trade with would be cut down

Hayley: So does that mean we won’t have any trees?

Samira: Cheese?

Hayley: Trees

Gerogia: No that’s got nothing to do with it Babe, that’s weather

Dani: Why wouldn’t we have trees?

Hayley: What are yous talking about?

Away from the humour, some people like it for anthropological reasons. “It’s so brutal it’s anthropologically interesting,” says Rosie Litterick, who studied at the University of York. “From a feminist point of view, all the men are awful and treat the women terribly.” It is definitely interesting to view how young people interact in this false competitive situation. The only risk could be that some viewers forget that it is a false competitive situation and think they are watching real life they should emulate.

Finally we’ll turn to Caitlin Moran who said: “I can defend Love Island for as long as I need to. Firstly, because it is the one programme my entire family will watch together. Even the dog seems to enjoy it, and I suspect that’s because it has equal intelligence to most of the people on TV. I don’t have any problems with watching dim people in their pants struggling with small life events; I find that very relaxing given the current political climate in the world.”

“But the thing I find most useful about it is that my children are teenagers, and this is incredibly educational. They’re horrified by the things they see, but at the same time they know that they’re going to be experiencing them in the next couple of years. It’s so hard to talk about sex or relationships with your teenage kids, but when you’re sitting and watching something like Love Island, and you’ve got all these situations happening it just allows you to go into a little rant or ask them questions about how it’s coming across to them or how they would deal with that situation. It’s saved me about a year and a half of embarrassing parenting, all whilst being wrapped up in a light entertainment format.” In class we talk about how the contestants deal with heartbreak, communication problems, taking relationships to the next step and what sort of behaviour is respectful.

Natural Family Planning

Contraception is the deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation. It makes sense. Contra meaning against, and the end of the word showing conception. I am sometimes surprised when students can’t work that out in class. But maybe that’s because students don’t use the word contraception very often, instead just referring to a method of contraception: condoms. Well today in the news they are debating the accuracy of fertility apps being used by women to avoid getting pregnant, so as a method of natural family planning and contraception. It is based on the rhythm method (calendar method).

To use the rhythm method, you track your menstrual history to predict when you’ll ovulate. This helps you determine when you’re most likely to conceive. If you’re hoping to get pregnant, you can use the rhythm method to determine the best days to have sex. Similarly, if you’re hoping to avoid pregnancy, you can use the rhythm method to determine which days to avoid unprotected sex.

In PSHCE lessons we will be learning about relationships and sex education, and in Religious Studies GCSE students investigate topics like Infertility and Fertility treatment on the old AQA course and topic like Love, Marriage and Contraception on the new AQA course. So understanding the biology of conception and the menstrual cycle, as well as the facts about contraception are repeatedly useful to our learning.

Recently students in Year 10 have been learning about what religions say about methods of contraception:

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Consent is an enthusiastic yes not just an absence of no

When discussing consent to sex in our AS Religious Studies lesson some students were curious why there needs to be debate on what consent actually means, when people are about to have sex.

Less than a few weeks later is appears that some people really do need lessons on consent after all. “I have never been taught about anything like that” said the footballer Ched Evans in his first interview since being found innocent of rape on Friday. He was speaking about the issue of sexual consent, which became the central argument in the court proceedings that first sent him to jail but then established his innocence at a retrial. He has now told the Mail on Sunday that “in this day and age, people need educating” on the issue.

Ched Evans was a star player at Sheffield United.

Students unions at universities across Britain have been providing consent workshops for years. Alice Tithecott, from Oxford University, said: “I felt reassured by the adult and mature discussions we had surrounding matters of consent, and in particular being given the opportunity to explore different perspectives and issues regarding consent in a safe environment. I feel that this workshop was an invaluable part of freshers’ week because it creates dialogue about issues which may otherwise be considered taboo.”

The courses run by colleges and football clubs have been praised by sex education experts, although some argue the issue of consent needs to be raised much earlier in a young person’s life. A spokeswoman from Brook, the young people’s sexual health and well-being charity, said: “We believe that every young person should have these lessons at school and from a young age.”

She quoted one of the young people that works with the charity, who said: “If my sex education had taught that consent is a sober, continuous, verbal, and enthusiastic Yes rather than just the absence of a No, I might not have had to assure my friend that she didn’t cheat on her boyfriend – another man raped her.”