The Sexist Double Standard on "The Bachelorette"

On The Bachelorette, it's a woman who bears the burden of other people's opinions about her choices and who's saddled with the repercussions. Why?

ABC

Before Nick Viall became a Bachelor Nation staple, he was the guy who confronted his ex, Bachelorette Andi Dorfman, on national television.

"Knowing how in love with you I was, if you weren't in love with me, I'm just not sure why you made love with me," he said accusingly. Dorfman retorted that was "below the belt" and should "be kept private."

What Nick Viall divulged might have been met with pity if a woman had expressed it—because men take advantage of women all the time. But on The Bachelor, no woman has taken issue with the leading man being intimate with another woman. In contrast, time and time again, the men on The Bachelorette become possessive and force the female contestant to defend her actions, specifically her sexual decisions. It's clear that the Bachelor can have sex with his female suitors whenever he pleases and receive no backlash from the contestants or from Bachelor Nation.

Bachelorette Finale - Nick Confronts Andi About Sex Suite www.youtube.com

Meanwhile, Dorfman received a lot of flack for hurting Nick's feelings. Similarly, the following bachelorette, Kaitlyn Bristowe, also received backlash for having sex with Nick Viall before the "fantasy suites." It's an unspoken rule that the fantasy suites are where the final four contestants are free to do whatever they want during their first time away from the cameras. The production team typically stocks the suite with sweets, alcohol, and condoms for each pair's indulgence.

For Nick to have sex with Bristowe before the "fantasy suite" format seemed hypocritical. Here we had a man who implied that Dorfman was cruel to have sex with him because she did not end up committing to him. A year later, Nick even defended Kaitlyn's choice to have sex with him on the show, tweeting, "Sex is not shameful. Whether we want to admit it or not, sex is an important part of many serious and meaningful relationships." While Nick has since apologized, it's still important to acknowledge that he shamed Dorfman for her sexual expression in front of millions. Yet, it was Bristowe and Dorfman who received the brunt of the backlash, with people across the nation slut-shaming them, while Nick got away scot-free.

Last night, yet another Bachelorette had to address a man's issue with her sexual actions. While on her first one-on-one date in Latvia, Hannah and Garrett bungee jumped naked (as is Latvian tradition). The date was riveting, vulnerable, and fun. It was an experience for the couple and the viewers.

When Garrett came back from his date, he giddily recounted it to the other men, but resident villain Luke P. did not receive the news of the naked bungee jumping kindly. He told the camera that he didn't believe Hannah would do that, and if she did, it'd be a slap in the face to him.

On their group date, Hannah referred to her date with Garrett and confirmed what Garrett said. Reality finally hit Luke P., and he was pissed. During the evening portion of the date, he took Hannah aside to "clarify" what happened on her one-on-one with Garrett and express how he felt about it. He began by referring to her body as "a temple," then cited her nude bungee jumping as "a slap in the face"; he concluded by divulging that he's no longer "confident" that he wants her to meet his family now. When Hannah reacted poorly to this, he put his foot farther in his mouth by trying to win her back, claiming that he'll always stick by her whenever she makes "boneheaded mistakes."

'You Don't Own My Body': Hannah B Slams Luke P. Over Sexist Comments www.youtube.com

Still mulling over the alarming conversation with Luke, Hannah decided to sit down with him on the day of the cocktail party. She addressed her concerns, which included the language he used, calling her nude bungee jumping a "boneheaded mistake" and using his family against her. But, all that aside, Hannah informed Luke P. that at this point, he shouldn't even be concerned with what goes on in her other relationships because, "You're not my husband. You don't own my body. You don't own me. It's my body." Luke P. claimed that she completely misunderstood him. He told her that she might not be remembering everything correctly and that she was twisting his language. Luke P. backtracking in such a manipulative and outright dishonest fashion furthers the argument that he's not only a pathological liar, but downright emotionally abusive.

Their interaction seems to be only the beginning of what's to come. The Bachelorette has teased Hannah's iconic line, "I have had sex and Jesus still loves me!" for weeks now and recently revealed Luke P. is on the receiving end of the sentiment. It's obvious that the narrative around sex and religion will come to a head this season, which will hopefully put The Bachelor franchise's slut-shaming to bed. As much as the franchise supposedly tries to uplift their "independent" women, the Bachelorette constantly has to reassure the men, reassert her strength, and defend her actions: a phenomenon that will most likely persist, since it appears that many men still can't understand that a woman's body belongs only to her.

Recently, host Chris Harrison suggested that The Bachelor franchise has showcased the changing realities of dating. Alas, that's true. As much as The Bachelor franchise wants to keep up with the times, The Bachelorette still plays into damaging stereotypes about relationships, gender roles, and how some men on The Bachelorette react poorly to not controlling the female lead. Luke P. isn't the first contestant, nor will he be the last, to impose his expectations of what a woman should or should not do with her body. As such, The Bachelorette reinforces the double standard that a woman can't express the same bodily autonomy and decision-making as a man.

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