Ferne McCann shines a bright feminist light in the dark world of reality TV
The TOWIE anti-hero can be a confused, messy and an imperfect advocate for feminism — but that's why she's so important, says Kasia Delgado
Yes, they're young, attractive, fun and wearing bikinis...but that's not the only reason the nation is appreciating their presence.
Their strong, sisterly friendship has surprised those who hoped they’d bring a barrel of bitchiness to the jungle, squabbling over fancying men and secretly judging each other's abs.
But that hasn’t happened. Not even a bit. Whether they’ve been eating tarantula’s toe nails or locked in a snake-filled caravan (or similar), just as entertaining have been their funny, smart and savvy conversations.
Geordie Shore's Vicky has been the more outspoken of the two, calling out Tony Hadley about his remark that women can do washing up better than men with the classic line, “Right ok, there’s me thinking I’m in the jungle, not some time machine!” She’s the one who’s really got Twitter talking.
But Ferne, to me, is even more intriguing because while Vicky is battling sexism brilliantly in the jungle, Ferne has been doing it in The Only Way is Essex for ages.
She, without necessarily realising it, represents the feminist light in an otherwise pitch black TOWIE world. I am completely in love with the show, but it does make bleak watching when every single series she gets accused by the fearful Brentwood men for being “loose” or “mouthy”. But rather than cowering into a corner, she almost always calls them out on their double standards.
Say the name Ferne to most men on TOWIE, and he’ll say something disparaging about her being a trouble maker.
And she is a trouble maker. She meddles in people’s relationships, lets secrets slip, and stirs up drama. But that’s why she’s so interesting. Because she’s not always likeable, or angelic or particularly kind to other women or men — she's flawed and her morals are not ironclad. And that's what feminism needs, too. A messy, imperfect, sometimes confused woman who is willing to stand up for herself.
This was particularly clear in June this year when Ferne faced this tirade from her friend's boyfriend Tommy Mallet.
Your mouth is too much,” Tommy yelled at her. “I have never done anything for you to start on me. You are the loosest girl in Essex at the minute. When are you ever going to settle down?"
Her response? It wasn’t to justify why she may or may not be sleeping with different people, but rather to take issue Tommy’s ‘insult’.
"Implying that a girl is a slut is the easiest, most unimaginative, lowest way to insult a woman," she Tweeted. "So if being a single women at the age of 24 makes you loose and a goer then I can't win. Never settle ladies! Happy Monday."
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Ferne even hosted a 'Feminessex' night last series, which saw the women go for a night out wearing no make-up. Now, the rejection of make-up was perhaps a slightly confused take on feminism, but the sentiment was there. It was a start.
And as the men joked, with genuine fear in their eyes, about their girlfriends "plotting", it was thrilling that this was happening in an episode of TOWIE at all.
No, Ferne certainly isn’t the perfect advocate for women, if indeed you are willing to accept such a thing could ever exist. But we should celebrate the fact that there are women like her and Vicky slowly changing perceptions in the brilliant, but incredibly judgmental world of reality TV.