Uncovering Rape Culture Review – Love Island star takes to UK schools to get to the root of sexual violence


Zara McDermott (BBC / Summer Films)

One afternoon in 2017, the model and former Island of love Star Zara McDermott was attacked in a park near her home by a teenage boy in a school uniform. He had followed her from the main street. Approaching, he shouted: “I’m going to fuck you right now against this fence.” He pushed McDermott away and slipped his hand into his leggings. As she struggled, McDermott looked over the boy’s shoulder to see a group of worried adults running towards them. The boy ran away, warning him, “I haven’t finished. I’ll have you “.

In his documentary Discover the culture of rape (BBC One) McDermott speaks publicly about the assault for the first time. Her mission is to find the root of sexual violence against women and girls. McDermott believes her “freckly, boyish” attacker – who has never been found by police – may have been only about 15 years old. Its first port of call, therefore, is the school.

McDermott is a compassionate interviewer. She meets dozens of schoolgirls who have been pressured by their classmates to send nude photos and told them they are “frigid” if they don’t. She holds the hand of sexual assault survivor Mary, who was left with internal bruises after unwanted touching at a house party when she was 15, and comforts a mother whose 12-year-old daughter Semina committed suicide after being raped.

The reality TV star is also fearless. In his interviews with children, one word keeps coming up: porn. Schoolchildren tell her that they started looking at pornography when they were 11 years old. At the time, they say, they thought it was a healthy, realistic portrayal of sex. But, as this program shows, a seemingly innocent search on Pornhub brings up violent videos tagged with words like “destroy” and “barely legal teenager.” McDermott wants to ask the company why they aren’t preventing kids from viewing their content. Unable to reach the phone, she tracks down the HQ of MindGeek, Pornhub’s proprietary tech company, and shows up at their offices. They are at the edge of a roundabout in front of a Kwik Fit. She is fired from the premises.

Rape culture is entangled in so many aspects of modern society that a one hour documentary on it was never going to be enough. But it does mean that the more complex issues raised here seem to be thrown out. McDermott says that as a model she is “aware that posting sexual images is contributing to the problem.” She says, however, that she “sells fashion and popular culture,” adding, “There is a huge difference between that and violent, hardcore porn. True, but would have gained a little more unpacking.

What the documentary actually does is open a dialogue between schoolchildren on consent. A group of boys from a high school in Stoke Newington begin the episode by refusing to participate in the discussion because they fear their words will be “twisted”, but in the end they ask the girls in their class how to give a compliment. . It’s captivating to watch. McDermott hasn’t solved the rape culture problem, but it certainly started in the right place.

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact your nearest Rape Crisis organization for expert, independent and confidential support. For more information visit their website here.

Read more

Crime Critic: Irvine Welsh’s debut TV series is as crisp, sardonic, and sinister as you’d expect

Tiger King 2 review: a disgusting lap of honor for Netflix

Miriam and Alan: Lost in Scotland review – Margolyes is still so earthy, crisp and fruity