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Is Tulisa the new feminist heroine?


EACH WEEK we ask two writers with contrasting opinions to debate a question...


GUARDIAN COLUMNIST Eva Wiseman referred to X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos as feminism’s new hero after her dimly-lit answer back video appeared online last week. In the video she details who, what, when, and why without a shred of embarrassment, only sorrow at the betrayal of trust between people who once upon a time shared love for each other.

This post sex tape reaction by a woman is the first of its kind and sets itself apart from the long list of Z-list celebrities famous for nothing but sex. There is not an ounce of shame about the act she has done, only sadness that it has been shared with the world. 

This wasn’t a public relations stunt, despite what critics are saying. However, like any PR person knows, it is important to make the most out of a bad situation – cue mass plugging of a new video and single about being young and making ‘mistakes’.

But this is neither here nor there when it comes to addressing the brave and risky move of a young woman in the public eye, to admit to sex and all the intimacies that comes with it.

We only have to look at Lethal B’s public ridicule and delight in the apparent shame on Tulisa for an insight into the reaction and attitudes towards a woman performing a sexual act with her boyfriend.

What we do with our partners as women in the privacy of our own homes brings shame on us if we are ever exposed as people who have sex. No matter how far we’ve come as feminists, this is still fact.

Tulisa, whether we like her or not, has boldly challenged this view that women should be embarrassed or apologetic for being sexual.

As a young woman I had a number of feelings and thoughts towards the sex tape. One thought was how on earth is she going to come back from this with any pride, let alone as a feminist hero?

On watching her video I can honestly say I felt proud for her. Her explanation and refusal to take responsibility for the video being leaked, probably unknown to her, was a big step in women publicly saying we have sex and it’s ok. It’s a huge lesson to her fans and says you should never feel ashamed of having sex with someone you love - only be more careful about who you trust, and don’t film yourself doing it. 



WHEN I think about feminist heroines, or in general women who have done incredible things, achieving so much and changing the world, I would not put Tulisa in that illustrious list.

I would even say that the notion that Tulisa can be placed in a list with the likes of Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks and Emily Davison is just simply wrong, and an insult to their legacy. With their actions, whether it’s changing the landscape of British politics or fighting for civil rights, these courageous women took a stand and fought for what they believed in and made a difference to society. Not only that, they changed the world. I’m afraid Tulisa hasn’t and therefore cannot be placed with these true heroines.

What exactly are we celebrating? The fact that Tulisa told the world that it was her and she was having an intimate moment with her ex? If that’s the case then why don’t we see Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton as feminist heroines?

It’s understandable if people want to recognise the fact that Tulisa took it upon herself to set the record straight. However, it was the easiest thing to do seeing as she couldn’t exactly deny it was her in the leaked video. 

I think we as a society are quick to heap praise on people for the smallest reasons. And this is an example of Tulisa being put on an undeserved pedestal simply for telling everyone what they already know.

It would be harsh to judge Tulisa for something she did a long time ago. However, she is now seen as a role model, a judge on a family show and all round nice person. Not anymore. Never mind her being a feminist heroine, she’ll do well to maintain her status as a likeable popular pop star.

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