This week, against my wildest expectations, N-Dubz’s Tulisa Contostavlos has become my new favourite person.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t really know who Tulisa is, or what she does. I have a vague idea that she sings in N-Dubz and does something on the X-Factor, but beyond that, I know nothing about her.
And I was quite content for it to remain that way until my Tweeter feed informed me that she was the latest in a long line of celebrities involved in a leaked sex tape scandal. Many Daily Mail readers have breezily asserted that this was just a matter of time given her chavvy roots and whiff of an accent.
My own thoughts on the matter proceeded something like this. Firstly, making a ‘private’ sex tape is not some abnormal, monstrous act - and it definitely doesn’t necessitate a barrage of abuse including ‘silly bint’ ‘chavvy whore’ and ‘sket’. Making said tape does not consign the participant to the hellish realms of eternal slutdom, and secondly that releasing such a tape is a disgusting betrayal of a person’s rights. I’d even suggest that it parallels rape in its lack of consent and invasion of privacy.
Sex tapes and naked pictures certainly aren’t novel; we’ve seen blowjobs, boobs and bouncing around galore from Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens - even Paramore’s Hayley Williams - in fact, they’ve become part and parcel of celebrity culture, but sex tapes have permeated even further than that. Every other fourteen year-old owns an iPhone, and instead of being a mere consumer of pornography, can now actively and easily create it - with or without their partner’s consent.
But what differentiates Tulisa from her numerous predecessors, women who I’ve not been compelled to publicly extoll? A few days ago Tulisa did something which made her my unexpected feminist idol of 2012. She stopped apologising.
Some bloggers have proclaimed her video response to the sex tape as a kickass feminist moment, a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree with.
“I don't feel I should be the one to take the heat for it” she said. “This is something he took upon himself, to put the footage online... I'm not going to sit here and be violated or taken advantage of."
Instead of the orthodoxy of the all too familiar scenario of hyper-remorse and apologising for being a bad role model, the naming and shaming of her pig of an ex-boyfriend, Justin Edwards (laughably also known as Ultra) and her frank statements regarding shame, intimacy, love and consent should be lauded as a positive first step against the prevailing victimisation and blame culture which surrounds the women caught up in such leaks.
It also makes a refreshing dent in the rather American model of capitalising on the video and embracing their typecasting as a sex object, so adored by Hilton, Kardashian et al.
I’m certain that a large number of people reading this article have participated in some form of amateur video-making or taken some risque photos, or so a standard game of I Have Never indicates. The issue is when such ‘private’ moments become public. For the average student, the dangers of a released nipple picture or thong shot, or even a shaky two minutes of post-Pop! coitus filmed on a phone are unlikely to end up on the front page of the Sun, or set up as a £3.90 download on the internet, yet it can be every bit as humiliating and painful
So following by example, I can talk about the time where a guy that I utterly adored, and had been in a relationship of sorts with for a number of years, thought it was completely appropriate to film me against my wishes and permission when I was horrendously drunk. The video inevitably still exists. Our relationship doesn’t. I know several men who have kept videos and explicit images of their ex-girlfriends after break-ups, prepared to whip them out for their friends after a beer or two.
Maybe Ultra has done the world a favour. If he did consider it acceptable to release an intimate and private video of a woman who clearly loved him, for fame or for money, he has simply highlighted the fact that such men are disrespectful, opportunistic morons. Hopefully Tulisa’s actions can turn the tide on a decade of male back-slapping and female embarrassment.
If you wish to watch Tulisa's side of the story, here's a link: