My Celebrity Life

Zara McDermott defends sexy social media photos as she explores rape culture: ‘That doesn’t mean anyone deserves to be assaulted’

My Celebrity Life –
Zara has explored rape culture in her new BBC Three documentary (Picture: BBC / Summer Films / Slater King)

Zara McDermott hopes young women aren’t deterred from sharing sexy photos on social media, as they have ‘no bearing on anyone asking to be sexually assaulted’. 

The former Love Island star has explored rape culture for a new BBC Three documentary, Zara McDermott: Uncovering Rape Culture, following her first successful film about revenge porn in 2019.

In the film, Zara, 24, uncovers a ‘rape culture’ raging in Britain’s schools and asks what needs to change, recalling for the first time her own assault, and speaking to young women and girls about their experience of rape culture and these toxic behaviours in both state and private schools.

One of the narratives which Zara takes particular issue with is the suggestion that women posting revealing photos on social media platforms like Instagram, means they’re ‘asking for it’.

Speaking to Metro.co.uk, the reality star said: ‘People sometimes say that about me, “Your Instagram is full of pictures of you on holiday or pictures of you in a tight dress and wearing nice clothes that don’t always cover you in every kind of way”.

‘But then I always rebut that and say well, just because a woman dresses a certain kind of way doesn’t mean she’s asking to be assaulted.

‘I think that’s a very clear message to be across. Women can be empowered and men can be empowered in any way they want and go on any show they want to go on, but that doesn’t mean anyone deserves to be assaulted.’

She added: ‘If I want to dress up in a pretty dress when I’m on a beach or a nice bikini, I can so do that.

‘They are so far apart in my mind that there’s no correlation in that.’

Raising awareness about rape culture is especially close to Zara’s heart following her own attempted sexual assault four years ago, before she found fame on Love Island. However, she admits that the revenge porn incident – where an ex leaked explicit photos of her during her time in the villa – was more impactful to her emotionally than the attempted sexual assault.

She explained: ‘I know that so many other women and men have experienced sexual assaults on a far greater scale with far more damning consequences and far more damage than what happened to me.

‘What I went through with my revenge porn experience, especially after Love Island, completely just clouded what happened because, for me, I wasn’t as emotionally affected by that so I don’t want to sit here and say this was the worst thing that happened to me because I got over it.’

She added: ‘I was so lucky… it also just made me more mindful of walking alone and being scared to walk alone in the dark.

‘My boyfriend [Made In Chelsea star Sam Thompson] has to be by my side when I walk alone. I actually got really upset the other day and he was like, “Oh my God, Zara don’t be silly, I’ll walk you, don’t get upset”. It’s things like that that stay with me, I guess.’

One of the hardest parts of the rape culture documentary was when Zara met with the family of 12-year-old schoolgirl Semina Halliwell, who took her own life after an alleged rape.

Recalling the experience, Zara said: ‘That will stay with me for the rest of my life.

‘She was a 12 year old girl who took her own life only a few months ago after an alleged rape that happened

My Celebrity Life –
Zara has spoken to young women and girls in schools about rape culture (Picture: BBC)

‘I spoke to her friends and her mum – her mum, what a brave woman – all I can do is commend her bravery and honesty about the struggles her 12-year-old was going through at the time.

‘For me that was an important part of the film because it shows there is a massive consequence to this rape culture, it’s not anyone being oversensitive.’

Zara has managed to transform her career since Love Island; after previously working as a Government advisor, she’s rediscovered her passion for helping young people through the hard-hitting documentaries. Her first film about revenge porn even earned Zara a National Television Award nomination and she’s been touted as the next Stacey Dooley.

‘I’m in a really privileged position where I can really communicate with my audience… it’s incredible this connection I have with my viewers,’ she said.

‘That’s the beauty of having an audience that are there and ready to listen and watch my films as I can just listen to what they want and they go and [make that film].’

Zara McDermott: Uncovering Rape Culture is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now.

 


Credit: Original article published here.

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