A confession: the entire Bachelor franchise is my guilty pleasure.
I can’t even help myself. I watch The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor In Paradise (arguably the most ridiculous) every year. These shows are awful but they’re like watching a car accident on the highway. I just can’t avert my eyes. Imagine my surprise as I watched Bachelor in Paradise last Monday evening and watched a feminist lesson unfold before my eyes. Thank God I didn’t blink because it only lasted about 4 seconds – but it’s a pretty big deal. Let’s start by setting the scene.
This year’s toolbag is Dean. He’s a pretty boy – pretty shallow, pretty immature, pretty mindless, pretty manipulative. He’s been involved with Kristina since they began filming. Kristina is amazing. She’s smart, funny, strong and takes no crap. Danielle came on the show a little later and Dean also became involved with her. Dean has described Kristina as smart and challenging, while describing Danielle as “hot” and basically mindless. Dean spends the night with Kristina before going on to heavy petting with Danielle in the pool. He continues on ahead to say basically the same sweet nothings to both women and yo-yo’s them both around before ultimately breaking up with Kristina for Danielle in typical jerk fashion.
Queue up for ~the moment~ with Raven Gates.
Kristina, devastated, turns to Raven to unload. She is angry (understandably!) – and she blames Danielle. Raven comes in with the hard truth: it’s not Danielle’s fault. Dean’s the jerk. BOOM. End scene.
Let’s dissect why this is a big deal.
Guys like Dean are enabled to be jerks because women let them. More often than not, instead of blaming the jerk for being a jerk, women have a terrible habit of blaming women. Dean was likely fairly confident that he could yo-yo these two women around because the chances of them both calling him on it were pretty low. Women don’t generally do that. Instead, the more common scenario has one woman calling the other a homewrecker or (fill in a woman-shaming name here). It’s absurd.
Dean had several choices he could have made to make himself not this season’s tool:
- End things with Kristina to explore a relationship with Danielle.
- Not pursue Danielle while involved with Kristina.
- Get to know them both on a non-intimate level before becoming more involved with either of them.
- Not be on the freakin show if he wasn’t ready to be a grown up.
Dean is the one who hurt Kristina. Dean is the one who messed with her heart. Her anger should be directed at him, 100%. But that’s just not how women are trained to operate – we’re trained to compete with, shame and direct our anger at other women. That is exactly what lets men off the hook and the cycle continues.
I love that Raven called this out. Being a feminist, at the core, means standing up for women. It doesn’t mean you need to blindly agree with all women, but it does mean that you stand up and call out the crap. That applies to calling bull on women for misdirecting (legitimate) anger. It’s not easy to hear truth bombs like this, but it is so important. To get to higher ground, we need to do a lot of heaving lifting – and that includes lifting ourselves and others above the detrimental patterns.
It can be so hard to confront your own biases, but the fact is this: women tend to be very biased against ourselves. The absurdity cannot be overstated. We police ourselves and each other in the exact way that we pray that men would stop. We beat on ourselves and each other in the exact way we pray that men would stop. We are holding ourselves back in the exact way we pray that men would stop. Let’s do better.