CBB Steph, you’re not a ‘slut’ (whatever that means anyway)

// 2 February 2016

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Samantha Rea watches Celebrity Big Brother and wonders how a snog can possibly be a scandal in 2016

As a child, my literary canon comprised the works of Enid Blyton and Judy Blume, the Sweet Valley High series and News of the World. At the weekend, while my parents read The Sunday Times, I caught up on kiss-and-tells by lingerie clad ladies, who claimed their conquests did it three times a night.

With a complete disregard for when these stories took place, let’s take a non-linear look at the tabloid splashes that shaped my psyche:

  • Mick Hucknall shagging over 1,000 women, at a rate of three a day, Martine McCutcheon being sick in his hair and Alicia Douvall, the stalwart of steamy flings, saying: “I had to get away from him, he was weird.”
  • Princess Di smuggling Will Carling – captain of the England rugby team – into Kensington Palace, under a blanket in the back of her car. Oh, and allegedly making 300 silent calls to the family home of rumoured shag Oliver Hoare.
  • Mick Jagger spending nights with France’s First Lady and former supermodel Carla Bruni, while Jerry Hall was at home with the kids. Oops, no – scratch that – Jerry was shagging a horse breeder behind Mick’s back.
  • Darren Day, “Britain’s Number One Love-Rat”, having coke-fuelled sex binges and passing his parcel round every soap actress in Britain – then walking out on Suzanne Shaw when their baby was three months old, declaring he “didn’t do family.”
  • Chelsea captain, John Terry, shagging tabloid staple Alicia Douvall in the toilets of a nightclub while his wife was pregnant with twins.
  • Eastenders’ Dean Gaffney having saucy sessions with porn star Linsey Dawn McKenzie, Alicia Douvall and the lucky ladies of Skegness, while his girlfriend was home looking after their kids.

This, ladies and gents, is tabloid fodder at its finest. So don’t tell me – a connoisseur of misconduct – that snogging is some sort of scandal. Yet that’s the story we’re being force-fed in the case of Celebrity Big Brother (CBB) contestants Jeremy McConnell and Stephanie Davis, simply because Stephanie had a boyfriend – Sam Reece – before she went into the house.

In McConnell’s exit interview on Friday, Emma Willis adopted her disappointed face and gave him a harder time than former UKIP-er Winston Mckenzie, who asserted that same-sex couples adopting was tantamount to child abuse. At the weekend, I switched on The Saturday Show to hear Gaby Roslin cueing the cameras for a close-up of McConnell with the question: “Do you have a message for Sam? What would you say to Sam if he’s listening now?”

A similar scenario played out on last night’s Big Brother’s Bit on the Side – and in every interview, model McConnell looks shame-faced, saying he knows his behaviour was wrong. In the house, former Hollyoaks actress, Davis, took the self-flagellating baton to say: “I know I’m hated because I’ve got a boyfriend and I’ve done what I’ve done… I’m basically a slut.

Really? Did either of you have coke fuelled sex romps with strangers while your partner was home looking after the kids? Did either of you do apparently unethical things with a Cadbury’s Flake and a ‘family friend’? And are we really still labelling women ‘sluts’? I thought we were making progress here.

Let’s look at the facts:

  • Neither Jeremy nor Stephanie are married
  • Neither Jeremy nor Stephanie have children
  • Jeremy, age 23, is single
  • Stephanie, age 22, has been with her boyfriend less than a year.

And let’s be clear: ALL THEY DID WAS SNOG!!! (Probably.)

For a child of the tabloids, this is a bit of a non-fucking-story. I wouldn’t even rate it PG. I was reading steamier shit about Anthea Turner when I was eight and she was presenting kiddies’ craft show Blue Peter. Meanwhile, George Michael was cottaging on crack.

That’s where I set the bar for a scandal, CBB. If you want me to bat an eyelid at the housemates’ antics, I suggest you raise your game. Throw in a mountain of marching powder, Lord Sewell in Bet Lynch’s bra and task Darren Day with licking a bath load of custard off Vanessa Feltz. That’s what I call entertainment!

In the meantime, Stephanie and Jeremy should shrug off the desperate efforts to demonise their behaviour and refuse to apologise. Stephanie, you’re not a ‘slut’ – you just moved on.

Samantha Rea is a freelance journalist living in London. Her writing is a disarray of filth, feminism, poker and peccadilloes. She has an MSc in Gender & the Media from the London School of Economics and she’s happiest when she’s sinking into a sofa, drinking an Old Fashioned.

[Image description and credit: Screenshot from Channel 5’s Celebrity Big Brother, showing Stephanie and Jeremy hugging each other in what appears to be the kitchen (possible disinfectant spray visible in background on the left and a toaster on the right). Stephanie wears a black long sleeved top and faces the camera, while Jeremy is topless (revealing elements of his elaborate back and arm tattoos) and wearing a furry hat with large animal ears, with his back to the camera. The Channel 5 star logo is in the top left corner of the picture and ‘LIVE’ is in large white letters, with white stars on either side, on the right. Shared under fair dealing.]

Comments From You

Megan Stodel // Posted 6 February 2016 at 10:33 pm

A few things here sit slightly uncomfortably with me.

I haven’t seen the latest season of CBB so can’t really comment on what exactly has happened. But I find it a bit strange that the markers of whether or not Steph has done something ‘wrong’ include whether the various parties are married, and that her relationship outside the house has not been going on for longer than a year.

People can and often do have very intense, loving relationships outside of marriage, including in the first year of being together; if they have chosen to be monogamous, then even something like kissing may well be considered unacceptable for them (and for some people can be considered worse then sex, because it’s often considered a more emotionally invested/romantic act). I don’t think that’s particularly outdated, even though I would like to see more couples consider whether monogamy is really for them. What I do think is outdated is the judgement in the term slut when used to describe a woman who is promiscuous, which in and of itself isn’t something that I can envisage harming others.

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