Katherine Ryan has hailed Love Island’s Maura Higgins as a “feminist icon” – and says we need to see more women who are unafraid to talk about sex.
The stand-up comedian and panel show star gave her thoughts on the reality TV show while speaking to Sky News on the red carpet at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards.
Known for not being afraid to discuss sex or share details of her own relationships, she joked that a new tour she is working on will be “mostly slagging off [new boyfriend] Bobby, speaking about his body, his family, his profession”.
Like most of the nation it seems, Ryan is glued to this year’s Love Island, which has seen Maura speak openly about sex.
While her honesty and humour has garnered her many supporters and column inches outside the villa, it has left some male contestants on the show feeling a bit intimidated.
Now-dumped islander Tom Walker, who Maura was coupled up with, has said he found her behaviour “cringey”.
Famous fans are growing in number nonetheless. Hollywood star Amy Schumer described the islander as her “homie” in a video posted on social media, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said she has “an interesting turn of phrase” when asked in a recent interview.
Ryan says Maura keeps her tuning in, adding: “Maura’s shaking things up. I love a spicy Irish lady. At first, whoa – Maura’s very forward. I liked that.
“And she’s shown the nation that just because you talk about sex doesn’t mean you owe anything to the men in the villa. And that’s when we just all fell in love with Maura.
“Those are the characters you want on Love Island. Tommy and Molly-Mae? Gorgeous couple but fight about something. Spice it up. I like Maura.”
In one of the most memorable episodes of the series so far, Maura proved that talking about sex does not guarantee it’s going to happen, sending Tom packing after she overheard him boasting to the other male contestants: “It’ll be interesting to see if she’s all mouth or not.”
Ryan added: “Maura is Love Island’s feminist icon. I love seeing women who aren’t afraid to talk about sex; it doesn’t mean you have to have sex, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad girl.
“If Maura, her words, make people viewing Love Island uncomfortable, that’s half the battle. Well done Ireland, well done Maura, well done us all.”
Again, like the Love Island star, Ryan is unafraid of making people feel uncomfortable with her comedy.
She added: “What’s wrong when we start taking ownership of our sexuality rather than being exploited? Love Love Island, love all the women in there, love Maura.”
Ryan also spoke about female characters and roles on screen in general, saying she is “tired of nice women”.
She explained: “I think we’re so lucky to see lots of complicated female heroines on television now, doing stand-up work, appearing in comedy series.
“Fleabag, obviously, but also my friend Aisling Bea has This Way up coming out, Roisin Conaty has GameFace series two – these are complicated female heroines, sometimes unlikeable.
“Killing Eve, you know. Sorry, women aren’t always there just to walk into a room and be like, here’s how I feel about the main storyline, bye bye, and disappear, and just be nice.
“I’m tired of nice women. It’s easy to be nice. So I’m happy with the way British comedy is really pushing that female heroine. Love it.
“If you’re a woman, or you’re thinking about becoming a woman, get into comedy immediately. We need you, we want you, we love you.”
:: The Sky Arts Awards, hosted by Melvyn Bragg, airs on Sky Arts at 8pm on Wednesday.