Lessons from a thorny, final rose.
When we first met Hannah Brown, she packaged herself as "Alabama Hannah" proudly shouting, "Roll Tide!"
She immediately made an impression, establishing a policy of honesty on night one with season 23 Bachelor, Colton Underwood. Hannah was granted the first one-on-one date of the season and definitely made a splash, if perhaps an awkward one, when Colton asked the former Miss America contender to make a toast and she could barely form a coherent sentence.
Is Colton Regretting His First One-On-One Date With Hannah B? | The Bachelor US www.youtube.com
That evening, Hannah divulged in her Talking Head segment that the date "did get back on track," a phrase that would come to haunt the future Bachelorette. During the evening portion of their date, Hannah and Colton connected through their shared value of virginity. She opened up to him, sharing that although she'd committed to remain a virgin until marriage, she'd broken that promise to herself. Hannah explained that she didn't "feel perfect" because she "couldn't give that [her virginity] to somebody." The intimate moment foreshadowed all the sources of insecurity Hannah would have to grapple with and overcome on her season of The Bachelorette.
When Hannah first got her start on The Bachelor, she stirred drama in the house with former Miss North Carolina, Caelynn Miller Keyes, and unveiled her alter ego: the rambunctious, silly, and odd Hannah BEAST. The Bachelor didn't set her up as a candidate to be the next Bachelorette with that unflattering edit. Typically, a wild child, drama-stirring, 23-year-old would not be chosen to lead the show. Or, at least, it seemed that way until she didn't receive a rose on her second one-on-one and was sent home. In her exit, Hannah spoke to the camera about how she deserved to "be loved fiercely" and chosen every day. The stirring speech resonated with women across the nation, serving up a perfect and genuine pick for the next Bachelorette. Then, on the Women Tell All episode, Chris Harrison offered her the opportunity to redo her awful toast. Hannah graciously spoke, saying, "Cheers to this beautiful day together, new experiences, and continuing to being honest, real every moment we have together, and Roll Tide."
Fast forward to Hannah's turn as the Bachelorette, where she sent men packing for—to put it bluntly—their disingenuous b*llsh*t. It became clear Hannah valued honesty above all, so when Jed Wyatt—an obvious frontrunner on her season—disclosed that he initially went on the show to promote his music, she thanked him for his honesty. Unfortunately, two weeks after their one-on-one aired, People Magazine broke the story that Wyatt's intentions were even less pure than Brown knew. His ex-girlfriend, Haley Stevens, told People that he never broke up with her. According to Stevens, Jed spent the night with her before he flew to LA, left her a love note, and called her once he got there, saying, "I love you, and I'll call you when I get back."
On the season finale Tuesday night, the show aired footage of the recently engaged Brown grilling her fiancé about the story. After they got engaged, Wyatt had told Brown he had been seeing someone before the show, but they had broken it off beforehand. In the course of the conversation, she questioned everything about their relationship and even brought up how much it bothered her that he told his friends that he "won" instead of that he was "engaged." Thankfully, Brown ultimately broke off the engagement. When she spoke with Chris Harrison on After the Final Rose segment, she told him,
"I have been in love with somebody in my past who lied to me, who cheated on me, and I tried to make it work. But I'm not that girl anymore, and that's been something I've been so proud of. So, no matter how much it hurts, I won't allow myself to be stuck in [something] for any longer than I should be. I deserve better."
Between Luke P. and Jed, Hannah's had a lot of experience and heartbreak to unpack, reflect on, and grow. To the dismay of many viewers, Luke P. cast a big shadow on Hannah's season of The Bachelorette. His lying, manipulative ways were easy to spot, distracting Hannah from Jed's less obvious deception. Throughout her season, the contestants would try to warn her about Luke's toxicity, but she'd ignore them in favor of the feeling of security he offered. On the Men Tell All she explained, "I was really insecure. I knew that no guy was actually there for me because they didn't know who the Bachelorette was going to be." Luke P. offered Hannah security because she could tell he was really there for her, regardless of his alarming behavior.
While Hannah had enough of Luke P.'s toxicity and sent him home, a sly cheater like Jed can be harder to spot. The two men forced Hannah to reconcile with who she is and what she deserves. Sadly, it wasn't until Luke P. gaslit her for potentially having sex with the remaining men that she realized she deserved better. Similarly, Hannah failed to acknowledge any of Jed's red flags or warning signs from her family, his family, and even from Jed himself (i.e. Jed bringing his guitar everywhere, including his proposal. Ew.). Jed felt like the right man to "settle down" with, so Hannah ignored her misgivings for as long as she could. She needed to read and circle lines from the People Magazine article to finally realize the kind of person Jed is.
Unfortunately, Hannah Brown is like many women across the nation who were taught to believe they should feel lucky to have found someone who wants them. In her relationship with Tyler C., she never felt fully deserving of the love, support, and respect he had for her (on top of his great looks), so she rejected him. At the end of Colton's season, Hannah still felt the pressure to be perfect and the need for validation, all the while seeking a relationship. Luckily, at the end of her season, Hannah came to terms with her insecurities and concluded that she doesn't need a husband. This revelation may not be a shocking one, but it's a lesson that hopefully reached girls and women across the nation.
In the end, Hannah's season of The Bachelorette was the best yet because it culminated in a different kind of happy ending: Hannah, a single woman, realizing her full worth. She broke away from toxic relationships, promoted sex positivity, maintained her voice, and dismantled her own insecurities. The Bachelorette may still be single, but audiences got to watch her learn more about who she is and what she deserves, and that's much more valuable.
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Plus celebrities react to Nigerian protests.
Young people across Nigeria have been pouring into the streets for the last two weeks to protest police brutality, specifically the controversial special police force known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Tension came to a head on Tuesday when armed forces fired on protestors in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, who were out past the state-mandated curfew. According to AP News, "Police also fired tear gas at one point, and smoke could be seen billowing from several areas in the city's center. Two private TV stations were forced off the air at least temporarily as their offices were burned."
Not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
October 21, 2020 marks the third annual International Pronouns Day.
Created by an independent board and first observed in 2018, it's one of those small commemorative holidays that trends on Twitter in hopes of drawing attention to a pressing social issue, like International Women's Day (March 8th) or the ever so serious National Taco Day (October 4).
But Pronouns Day in particular "seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace." The organization's website further describes, "Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people's multiple, intersecting identities."
But in the words of nonbinary activist and Trevor Project's Head of Advocacy and Government Afairs, Sam Brenton, "Pronouns are hard." Never before have pronouns been scrutinized as closely as they are in 2019 for their power to (in)validate or accurately describe something as fluid as gender identity. In fact, it was only this year that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary expanded the definition of "they" "to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary" (thus codifying a long history in English language of using "they" to refer to a singular non-gendered entity).
‘Everyone has the responsibility to be respectful.’ — The @TrevorProject’s Sam Brinton is explaining why pronouns a… https://t.co/pMMO8KRvBR— NowThis (@NowThis)1571253180.0
But throwing an additional wrench in the works is the fact that not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
Take me, for instance: Despite having female biology, I couldn't pass a lie detector test saying I'm a "woman." But my pragmatic, Puritan family is still endearingly confused by the idea of "liberal arts," let alone the notion of gender fluidity. And I'd rather share a communal language with them than do the emotional and mental labor of re-orienting their worldview for them. Plus, I have the privilege of passing as female without feeling too, too, terribly dysphoric (which non-binary people can definitely suffer from, despite not identifying as trans).
But enough about me, look at Queer Eye's beloved Jonathan Van Ness. While he's been outspoken about being genderqueer, gay, and HIV positive, he prefers he/him pronouns. "The older I get, the more I think that I'm nonbinary," Van Ness said. "I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman." As he told Out magazine, he doesn't identify as a man, but he does prefer "he/him/his" pronouns. In his view, those pronouns don't detract from or contradict his non-binary identity, because gender is not about simple binaries between masculine and feminine identifiers. "Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it," he said. "I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It's this social construct that I don't really feel like I fit into the way I used to."
On the other hand, last month non-binary singer Sam Smith announced that their preferred pronouns are "they/them." Smith posted to Instagram, "I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out." People like Smith and Trevor Project's Sam Brenton simply feel more validated, seen, heard, and true to themselves with gender-neutral pronouns. Smith wrote, "I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*ck it!"
Most importantly, as pretty much every non-binary person and activist is aware, changing cultural norms is hard. While LGBTQ+ activism is inspired and passionate and dedicated to expanding human rights to all gender identities, we all know that changing society's entire understanding of gender and pronoun usage is about slowly opening minds. As Smith wrote, "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you." Happy Pronouns Day to you/him/her/they/(f)aer/zim.