Lockdown is not that interesting and we're all understandably bored, which can lead to some odd choices.
But there's keeping oneself entertained at the slight expense of someone else, and then there's deciding this is the perfect time to violate someone's right to consent. Singer Olly Murs apparently chose the latter.
In a TikTok video posted yesterday, the singer shows what he seems to consider to be a "prank", involving a tube of Pringles, a tin-opener and... presumably his penis.
Sporting a Mickey Mouse Gucci T-shirt, which just makes the whole thing even creepier, he cuts the bottom off the Pringles can, turning it into a hollow tube, sits on the sofa with it on his lap apparently pretending there are still crisps in there, offers one to his girlfriend, Amelia Tank, who is sitting next to him.
As she reaches into the tin, the famous Scarface quote ("Say hello to my little friend") overlaps the sound. Murs laughs hysterically at the fact that he "tricked" his girlfriend into, presumably, fondling him. She, meanwhile, visibly recoils and angrily mutters: "Tw*t."
The video is tagged as #funny #prank #shedidntseethatcoming... in reality it's anything but.
According to the Met Police:
What separates sex, or a gesture of affection, from sexual assault? It's a matter of consent. That is, both people agreeing to what's happening by choice, and having the freedom and ability to make that choice.
If the video is taken at face value, Tank was tricked into sexual contact that she did not consent to. Even if the whole thing was staged and she knew exactly what was going on, Murs is still condoning this behaviour. His young (or not-so-young) followers may see his video (which has been widely reported as a "cheeky prank" – a gross understatement) and think this is an acceptable way to behave towards women.
It doesn't matter whether the woman in question is a girlfriend, wife, best friend or total stranger – tricking someone into touching your genitals is a clear violation of their bodily autonomy and right to consent.
It's not the first time he's posted TikTok videos of himself playing distasteful "pranks" on his girlfriend, including waking her up with a screeching horn (which he displays holding it to his genital region) in her ears.
In another video, Murs (who has 1.4 million followers) is seen in bed with Tank, lip-syncing to a line from the film Step Brothers saying: "You'd better not go to sleep, as soon as your eyes shut I'm going to punch you square in the face," and "I'm going to take a pillowcase and fill it with bars of soap and beat the sh*t out of you." She is in on the "joke", miming the rest of the lines ("I just want you to know I hate you" and "I hope you stay still when you sleep because I'll put a rat trap between your legs"), but it still makes for disturbing viewing.
Often, celebrities will do or say problematic things, and get (at least temporarily) "cancelled" as a result. But this doesn't seem to be the case with Murs.
Although he has his defenders arguing it's "just a bit of fun" or "clearly staged", lots of people on Twitter were quick to point out just how dangerous making light of this kind of behaviour is:
@thediyora haha lack of consent is so funny @ollymurs haha 🙃
Yet it seems to have barely caused a stir, with lots of his fans actually defending his actions, suggesting it was a "joke".
According to Rape Crisis, one in every five women has experienced sexual assault since the age of 16, yet only 15 per cent report it to the police.
Part of the reason many women don't report their assaults is due to a misconception that these crimes happen in dark alleyways and are perpetrated by strangers, but in fact in 90 per cent of cases of rape, the victims know the perpetrator. That said, there's a long history of disregarding women's claims of sexual assault by their partners.
A 2018 survey revealed that a shocking one in four people in the UK do not think that non-consensual sex within a marriage is rape. But it's not that surprising when you consider that British law only began to consider it such in 1991.
If we want to challenge these hugely damaging perceptions, we must clearly condemn any portrayal of non-consensual sexual contact, even – or perhaps especially – within a relationship.
That Olly Murs not only posted a video of what looks like a sexual assault but also made light of it, suggesting the whole thing is one big joke, is beyond reprehensible.
Imagine if a young teenage girl told you a boy at school did this to her. Would it be funny? Would it be a "prank"? Or would it be a traumatic instance of assault that the boy in question should be held responsible for?
Ignorance and thoughtlessness is not a legal defence to sexual assault. It shouldn't be a public one either.
The above is a comment article which expresses the view of the writer. It does not necessarily represent the opinion of indy100 or The Independent