“The Bachelor,” Slut-Shaming, and Cyber Bullying

c1hprcuw8aappex

By De Elizabeth

Fans of The Bachelor franchise come in a handful of varieties. There are those who love the show fully ironically, who enjoy live-tweeting, laughing at the ridiculously lavish dates, and gaping at all the dramaaaaa. On the flipside, there are fans who are genuinely into the show, who are rooting for the bachelor or bachelorette to find their one true love, who are truly disappointed when (or if) they break up a few months later. And then there are some fans who might fall directly in between – the ones who get into it, but know it’s a heavily edited television show to take with a grain of salt. I’ve always considered myself one of those in-between fans.

Kate and I are part of a Bachelor Fantasy League, and we look forward to our seasonal drafts and picking teams. I enjoy live-tweeting along with the rest of “Bachelor Nation,” and I genuinely like this season’s bachelor, Nick.

But while watching last night’s episode, I couldn’t help but notice a common theme I kept seeing both on the show and online from fans. And that is the dreaded slut-shaming of the show’s “villain,” Corinne.

Last night’s episode contained a group date in which the girls had to do a bridal photo shoot with Nick. During Corinne’s shoot (which took place in a swimming pool), she chose to take her bikini top off and pose topless in the water. The rest of the girls naturally freaked out and spent the rest of the episode obsessing about Corinne’s behavior. To make things worse, Corinne got the rose on the date, leading them to question if Nick was ‘here for the right reasons.’

The question that kept getting repeated by the other girls was this: “Does Nick want a wife or does he just want to have a good time?” The implication in this question is that a girl who takes her top off in the pool is not “wife-material.” Because Corinne is an overly sexual woman, she is not viewed by the other contestants as someone who Nick would ultimately choose as a wife. The idea that a woman can be both a sexual creature and a wife is obviously a threatening idea – but why?

And this attitude is not limited to the contestants – it seeps into the viewers as well; this is how the show wants us to respond. While watching, I looked Corinne up on Twitter and, out of curiosity, scrolled through her mentions. I was horrified – but not surprised – to see that people were calling her a slut, a bitch, a cunt, and dozens of other cruel insults.

There are basically two issues at play here. The first is the way the show treats female sexuality in general. This is nothing new. Female contestants are slut-shamed all the time; Kaitlyn spent an entire season dealing with the ramifications of sleeping with Nick “too soon,” having to explain herself over and over and over to the other guys. Clare hooked up with Juan Pablo in the ocean and was demonized for it. Courtney Robinson was targeted for the same reason on Ben Flajnik’s season. And in the case of Clare and Courtney, Juan Pablo and Ben seemed to evade all responsibility; the women were the ones shouldering the “guilt” and dealing with reactions of the other contestants.

We need to reject the idea that a “sexual” woman is not “wife-material.” We need to reject it for two reasons: 1) Not all women want to be wives and 2) Women can be whatever they damn well please. We need to stop telling women and girls that they can’t be more than one thing, that they are limited to a certain descriptor, or that they can’t be multi-layered and complex. The Bachelor, for as popular as it is, needs to do a better job of this.

The second issue here has to do with the demonization of these contestants by the show itself and the inappropriate reaction from viewers. Everyone who watches The Bachelor needs to understand that this is a heavily, heavily edited series. As with other reality shows, the producers want us to have certain reactions. We are being fed ideas about these contestants in order to “root” for one and “hate” another. If you don’t understand how this works, you need to read I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends by Courtney Robinson, and you will. We are only seeing a part of the story, and, more importantly, it’s the only part of the story that the showrunners want us to see.

Regardless, the girls (and guys) who go on this show are real people. They are not fictional characters. Yes, they willingly are on national television, so, yes, they are willingly subjecting themselves to being judged by America. But that does not give anyone the right to harass and bully these women. Just because you have a Twitter account and know how to use a hashtag doesn’t mean that you are entitled to a direct pipeline to these women’s lives, nor does it mean that you should call Corinne a slut and a bitch just because you don’t like something she did on T.V.

In general, we just need to be nicer. We need to be kinder. Celebrities – of any status – are human beings just like us. And while social media provides us the kind of access that we’ve never had before, we need to be smart about how we utilize that contact. We cannot be so arrogant as to think that our words don’t matter, that we are anonymous behind our little screens. We are not anonymous, not ever.

Ultimately, it’s as simple as this – would you like it if hundreds of strangers tweeted at you, calling you a bitch, simply because you went on a TV show? Probably not. So don’t do it to someone else. It’s not hard.

One thought on ““The Bachelor,” Slut-Shaming, and Cyber Bullying

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s