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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I don't blame parents who move to get their child into a good school

Chris Blackhurst
William Hague, addresses delegates at the Conservative party conference for the last time in his political career in Birmingham  

It’s only natural for politicians like William Hague to end up as journalists

Simon Kelner
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference