Lily James' friends reveal huge toll of abuse the actress has faced

Lily James’ friends reveal the huge toll of abuse the actress has faced – in contrast with married Dominic West – including sexist bullying and slut shaming

Four months after actress Lily James was pictured kissing her co-star Dominic West in Rome, she continues to be bombarded with abuse by online trolls

It was a cosy afternoon of sightseeing in the Eternal City that went a little beyond the innocently flirtatious.

But four months after actress Lily James was pictured kissing her co-star Dominic West in Rome, she continues to be bombarded with abuse by online trolls.

Now her friends have spoken out about how the bullying is blighting her life, highlighting the sharp contrast between the angry vilification she endures daily and the way West – the married one in their dalliance – has been largely let off the hook.

‘It’s bullying and, above all, sexist,’ one friend said. ‘She sees herself as a victim of blatant slut-shaming.’

The distasteful phrase refers to the trend for trying to humiliate women for being sexually active – a trait that’s so often celebrated in men. ‘She finds the whole thing horribly disgusting, and a nasty, incorrect label,’ the friend added.

Lily, 31, was not West’s sexual partner but has been branded a ‘marriage-wrecker’ over the photographs that also showed the 51-year-old nuzzling her neck as they shared a scooter ride around the romantic streets of the Italian capital after shooting the BBC drama The Pursuit Of Love together.

She has faced calls to be ‘cancelled’ from future work and for her movies to be boycotted. The barrage has dented her self-confidence and, it has been suggested, driven her out of her North London home.

‘Imagine getting that sort of abuse on a daily basis,’ one friend said. ‘It’s taking a big toll on her.

‘This is a straightforward case of double standards – a woman getting the backlash, while the man, despite being married, isn’t under anywhere near the same amount of scrutiny.’

Indeed, West, 51, has escaped comparatively unscathed. He and his wife, the Irish aristocrat Catherine FitzGerald, staged a public display of unity after the pictures emerged, even giving press photographers a note that said: ‘Our marriage is still strong.’

At Christmas they sent out a family card, featuring them with their four children in the grounds of FitzGerald’s ancestral home, Glin Castle in Ireland.

But Surrey-born James has been single since splitting from former Doctor Who star Matt Smith, 38, last year, and is quite happy not to have settled down. She has been romantically linked – falsely – to Armie Hammer, her co-star in the retelling of Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca, and to Captain America actor Chris Evans, but nothing serious.

And friends say that the fact she is in no rush to settle down exposes an age-old prejudice among her tormentors.

‘Why can’t people accept that she is successful and might not want to marry yet?’ asked one source. ‘She has only just got over the milestone of turning 30. She loves her job and she doesn’t want to settle down yet. She struggles to understand what is so wrong with that.’

Lily, 31, was not West’s sexual partner but has been branded a ‘marriage-wrecker’ over the photographs that also showed the 51-year-old nuzzling her neck as they shared a scooter ride around the romantic streets of the Italian capital after shooting the BBC drama The Pursuit Of Love together

Yet the virulence of what is freely – and anonymously – posted on sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter shows that many people do feel the need to pass bilious comments on her relationship choices, while overlooking West’s culpability.

One troll wrote: ‘I will never have respect for a woman who’s a home-wrecker. She messed with a married man and knew it. She’s worse than he is. And, yes, I’m talking about you, Lily James.’ Another added: ‘Lily James is out there being a loose goose.’

Of course, she is not the first star to be ‘slut-shamed’. After being similarly targeted, singer Miley Cyrus highlighted the hypocrisy. ‘Men (especially successful ones) are RARELY slut-shamed,’ she tweeted. 

‘They move on from one beautiful young woman to the next MOST times without consequence. They are usually referred to as “legends”, “heart-throbs” or “ladies’ man”,’ etc, where women are called “sluts” / “whores!” ’

And after Angelina Jolie was blamed for breaking up Brad Pitt’s and Jennifer Aniston’s marriage in 2004, it was her career, not Pitt’s, that suffered.

What might be surprising is that the vast majority of the vitriol James has received has emanated from women. But psychologist Tracy Vaillancourt says that tests she has conducted show that ‘slut-shaming’ is hard-wired into the female brain.

Writer Leora Tanenbaum coined the term ‘slut-bashing’ in 1999 in a book documenting the harassment in schools when pre-adolescent or adolescent girls were bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual behaviour.

She said: ‘They are victims of the sexual double-standard: the mindset that males are expected to be sexually active, even in an uncontrolled way, while females are supposed to remain minimally sexual and are judged and policed by both males and other females when they are not.’

Broadcaster Kirsty Wark, who investigated ‘slut-shaming’ for a BBC2 documentary, has said that the internet is ‘amplifying misogyny’ and women who show any sexual independence are being humiliated online.

Indeed, some famous women have jumped to West’s defence. Novelist Jilly Cooper, 83, said: ‘Don’t you just think he got carried away? I feel sorry for men today.’

Luckily, calls for James to be ‘cancelled’ do not appear to be working. She stars in the acclaimed new Netflix movie The Dig and has been filming the romcom What’s Love Got To Do With It, written and produced by Jemima Goldsmith.

But the sad truth is that the photographs of her and West canoodling on the streets of Rome are likely to be the bane of her life for years to come – yet almost certainly not of his.

Broadcaster Kirsty Wark, who investigated ‘slut-shaming’ for a BBC2 documentary, has said that the internet is ‘amplifying misogyny’ and women who show any sexual independence are being humiliated online.

Source: Read Full Article