How ‘The Bachelorette’ Totally Missed The Point Last Night
I don’t usually (ever) watch The Bachelor or in this case, The Bachelorette, but I did last night after all the hype leading into this season. For some reason this season of The Bachelorette not only pins 25 suitors against one another in the traditional fashion of the show, but someone decided to make two females from last season of The Bachelor duke it out to become “the bachelorette” in this season. How was this to be decided? By votes of the suitors, of course, placing the show’s oh-so-symbolic rose into each of the girl’s box (the producers missed this innuendo somehow) based off of a combination of pretty baseless criteria: how the show portrayed her last season, a short conversation if they were lucky enough to get five minutes to talk to her, and her looks.
“How can this still be a thing in 2015?” kept crossing my mind as I watched a show about people with fabricated jobs (sorry Mr. Healer from St. Louis, we’re not buying it) trying to find love, and even worse, promoting the stigma of girls hating each other because of men.
I tried taking off my critical-thinking cap and let the garbage seep into my brain, that is until Ryan M. became the episode’s focus. Ryan M. took full advantage of the free booze provided at the cocktail party (Fireball on the rocks? Really?) so that he could get, as the show’s host Chris Harrison so elegantly said, “blitzed”. Who knows how much was edited out, but the slurs that Ryan M. said and the actions he did that weren’t cut were pretty shocking. He called the two girls vying to become the bachelorette, hoes. He used the word rape a couple of times. He grabbed one of the girl’s faces as another suitor tried making him go away from her. He slapped the other girl’s butt. And while other suitors called out Ryan M. for doing these things, it seemed like the show added these interventions in just as points of conflict. As the show followed Ryan M.’s drunken escapades of almost getting in fights, falling out of the pool and being a full-fledged, blacked-out douchebag, Chris Harrison finally kicked him off the show, but not because of his behavior, it was for being drunk and not being there to find “love”.
I was disappointed to see that the show completely failed to highlight on who Ryan M. is in society. As women, we have all dealt with our fair share of asshats like Ryan M. We have been conditioned to walk away after they grab our butts or catcall at us or creep on our friends. And the Ryan. M’s of the world have been taught that it’s all okay because they’re just intoxicated, or because that’s simply what “cool” guys do.
Yes, I am well aware that The Bachelorette isn’t meant to be a catalyst of social justice and change, but I do think that as a media platform with a large audience (primarily of which are female), it has the ability to make people stop and think, rather than just mirror the sexism and misogyny that exists in society today. Last night, The Bachelorette had the perfect opportunity to slip in a lesson about the bigger picture that Ryan M. represented, but totally missed the mark. I’m not saying they should have made a huge deal about it, but a few words of commentary on how having those words in one’s vernacular and thinking of women as pieces of meat isn’t okay, drunk or sober, would have been nice.