What Nigella-gate tells us about public and private space

Those who would shame a man on the street might not react the same if they witnessed a celebrity argument. That's a depressing reality for women in the public eye

Share
Related Topics

The cult of celebrity has flagged up that most coveted commodity of the modern age: privacy.

Privacy, is the conundrum of our age, and if recent events are anything to go by, the conversation is only set to grow. Over the last few years terms like ‘super-injunctions’ and ‘gagging orders’ have entered the public vernacular, and the Leveson enquiry (though, it still has a way to go) has meant that privacy is being scrutinized like never before. Thanks to these stories, the public psychology is far more attuned to what is and isn’t acceptable. We are told that taking a photograph of a celebrity child for instance, is unacceptable, (indicated by a blurred face). A princess’s breast on holiday? Unacceptable. A pop star giving being set up by a tabloid? Perfectly acceptable!

While none of these instances equate to what went on over dinner with Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson this week, the message is clear: that the space that ‘celebrity’ occupies is different to ours, and as such, private space should be respected and treated accordingly.

So far, so good, until we consider recent events. This idea of ‘privacy’ draws an imaginary line that makes it more difficult for the ‘everyman/woman’ to intervene, for instance like a man grabbing a woman’s throat over dinner. In the past I have intervened in violent public disputes in the street, and in restaurants, and though I would like to think that I always would, this story has made me ashamed to admit that I might hesitate in such a scenario.

Twitter conversations over the last week have highlighted that some people feel the same. Those who might be quick to shame a man on the street might take a moment in the case of a celebrity argument. Not only because of the intimidation of being snapped to death and asked to publicly comment on the events, but also because of the psychology that they occupy a space we are not allowed to enter.

If it was an even higher profile case then you might feel you weren’t allowed to pipe up from across the room – if it was Rihanna and Chris Brown for instance, would your first action be to run and help, or marvel at the scenario and tweet about it? In which case, how much more lonely for any women involved. And if the reports are indeed true, this seems to be the case in this scenario, there was no ‘Mayfair Angel’ who stormed over to shame Saatchi and comfort Lawson. It appears that there were onlookers who were either unable or unwilling to help, which is a fact which should depress all of us. Though the admission of this debate should be welcomed – it leads us into a discussion (or at least me, personally) that we might not have realized had to happen.

Of course, privacy needs to be respected, but our impulse should always be to make it crystal clear that any instance of domestic abuse is unacceptable. We need to shake off the idea that there are spaces in which we can’t exercise our moral compass, especially as members of a society which should uphold the values of protecting women. This event has the capability to distort the national conversation of incredulousness (not about the fact that Saatchi would or could do such a thing) but that no one would intervene.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam