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28th November 2022

The ‘feminist icons’ who have betrayed feminists

Adam Levine, Ned Fulmer, Rex Orange County: What did these three men do to betray feminism and how can we prevent this from occurring again?
The ‘feminist icons’ who have betrayed feminists
Photo: Timothy Tsui @ Wikimedia Commons

Warning: This article contains mentions of sexual assault.

Adam Levine, Ned Fulmer, Rex Orange County.

Just three names who have been ‘exposed’ within the past month for not treating the women in their lives properly – of course, to varying degrees. But what is so special about these men in particular? Why does their betrayal of the women in their lives hurt women everywhere?

These men have built their careers off the appreciation of women. Their entire celebrity identity is based on the fact that they are not just men, but ‘ultimate feminist icons’ because they outwardly express their adoration for females everywhere.

So, what did each man do?

Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine went viral in 2013 for blowing kisses to his wife, Behati Prinsloo, while she was walking in the annual Victoria’s Secret runway. This simple video cemented Levine as the ‘perfect husband’, and his relationship with Prinsloo as ‘couple goals’. With this image in mind – along with the various Maroon 5 songs Levine performed which are dedicated to love and women – it came as a shock when it was revealed that Levine was having an affair on his wife. Particularly because, not even two weeks before, Prinsloo had announced she was expecting the couple’s third child.

Ned Fulmer was a founding member of the internet-famous quartet The Try Guys. A major part of his personality within the group was how much he loved his wife, Ariel. His obsession went so far that The Try Guys’ secondary YouTube account published a compilation of every time Fulmer had mentioned her. Thus, Iit came as a huge shock when it was revealed Fulmer was engaged in a year-long affair with a Try Guys employee – a complicated relationship which is under extreme scrutiny due to the power dynamic of a boss/employee relationship.

The actions of Rex Orange County – also known as Alex O’Connor – may sting for most of us university students, as his bedroom pop sound is popular with young people globally. His songs echo his adoration for his then-girlfriend, Thea Morgan-Murrell, and how much love affects him – a motif that resonates largely with young women. When O’Connor cancelled the rest of his Who Cares? tour that took place outside of the UK, rumours began to circulate as to what the “unforeseen personal circumstances” to which O’Connor had referred may be. Turns out, it was six charges of sexual assault. Yes, the man who wrote songs about how much he loved women is going to court for alleged sexual assault.

This hurts women everywhere, as modern feminism is not as advanced as we like to make it out to be. We, as women, are still in need of male support in order to be taken seriously or listened to. As patriarchal as that sounds, this is our unfortunate reality.

So, when a male celebrity is doing the bare minimum for feminism, such as offering outward, quite superficial support for women, we have no choice but to cling to them as ‘feminist icons’. We constantly champion them above other men as they are ‘one for the gals’. Consider Harry Styles and Timothy Chalamet – two men – who women won’t admit that we’re just secretly in a parasocial relationship with – who are called ‘feminist icons’ just for wearing clothing that society has labelled as ‘feminine’. The standards are pretty low for allyship.

The three men at the centre of this discussion, who have been invited into feminist spaces based on bare-minimum actions, are simply detrimental to women. We put so much faith into these men so we can have our voices heard. By doing this, we only set ourselves up for disappointment.

In no way am I blaming feminists, nor women in general. We have no choice but to cling to any man who will be willing to show support for our causes. To blame women for allowing these fake feminists into our spaces is counterproductive.

It is the men that must take responsibility for the actions of these fake feminists. Men must become more hyper-aware of how their actions, even if comparably less severe than Adam Levine sending suggestive text messages, will affect women everywhere.

When a man cheats on their girlfriend, it is almost instinctual for the girlfriend – and society – to blame the mistress for the relationship. Not the man who initiated the affair. This victim blaming extends to severe cases such as Rex Orange County, wherein sections of what little fanbase he has left are resorting to the same old phrase that is all too common in cases of sexual assault; let’s just wait for the evidence to come out before “jumping to conclusions”. This smacks of fans desperately trying to absolve their ‘fave’ out of wrongdoing through nit-picking at the testimony.

Women are always going to get the blame for these men’s actions.

“Why did she sleep with a married man?”

“Why didn’t she say no?”

“What was she wearing?”

“Why did feminists give these men platforms?”

This is why the actions of Ned Fulmer, Adam Levine, and Rex Orange County ultimately hurt every women and the feminist movement they initially helped. We need to combat victim blaming within the feminist movement – which is largely committed by the men who we allow to be open allies for our movement.

Violet Robins

Violet Robins

Deputy Opinion Editor – I write about the female experience

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