Culture News

What If Colton Underwood Is Just Asexual?

If asexuality were a more widely known, understood, and validated orientation, would people like Underwood have such a difficult time accepting their lack of interest in sex?

Observer

America has had a problem with Colton Underwood's sexuality since he became "the world's most famous virgin" in 2019.

While a reality TV show like The Bachelor is no place to find enlightened social commentary, the series' first virgin lead put the concept of virginity under public scrutiny. What is virginity? Does it even exist? In reality, it's as much a social construct as gender. Still, we seem to agree that women have the right to be as (in)experienced as they want, but if a 28-year-old man (and former pro-football player, no less) is still a virgin, then he must be gay, right?

As Underwood told Entertainment Tonight while promoting his book, The First Time: Finding Myself and Looking for Love on Reality TV, he's been plagued by rumors about his sexuality for years. "Even now, I still battle gay rumors when I'm with Cassie, but that's how it was for me as a young kid in grade school and high school," he said. "I can deal with them now."

Keep Reading Show less
TV

Luke P. Resorts to Gaslighting Through Christianity

In their blowout last night, he fell back on the same pattern: confront, manipulate to gain power (occasionally lying), and then backtrack to save face.

We've all had enough of Luke Parker.

ABC

It's a general truth that a majority of the Bachelor Franchise's contestants are Christian.

There have been virgin contestants, a born-again virgin Bachelor, and then a straight-up virgin Bachelor. Yet, over the past two decades, the show has refrained from airing discussions of touchy topics like religion or sex. Participants on the show have disclosed that many deep conversations regarding such matters go unaired.

Then, last season, one contestant, Caelynn Miller-Keyes, disclosed her sexual assault to the Bachelor, Colton Underwood. The heart-stopping moment became a revelatory scene in reality television. Viewers everywhere could hear, relate, and connect to the moving story. Powerful moments like those are more common now that participants are breaking away from the show's traditional boundaries, storylines, and rules. In turn, production has begun to re-shape the show; while the series has become more sex positive, religion has remained a taboo subject—until last night.

Throughout this season, Bachelor Nation has witnessed an emotional abuser remain on their TVs for far too long—even by the standards of reality TV, it's been alarming. Luke P.'s concerning behavior, from aggression to excessive lying, has prompted viewers to question, "What in the hell are we not seeing?" Hannah Brown and Luke P. have had a connection that viewers cannot not wrap their heads around, but it turns out that viewers were missing half the story. While Luke P. has stirred the pot by repeatedly disrespecting Hannah and his fellow contestants, viewers have questioned if an inexplicable spiritual connection has been drawing the two together.

Finally, the other half of the story was unveiled during Fantasy Suite week. After the two made-out during their day touring Santorini, Luke P. began their dinner by gaslighting Hannah:

"I am very confident that we're on the same page with our morals, and I just want to hear it from your mouth. I've heard people proclaim their faith, but yet they've said things like, 'I'm excited for Fantasy Suites. I want to explore this relationship on a sexually intimate level, and that's what I'm looking forward to.' And to me, that's like whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa excuse me? What? There's something I'm missing here. Like I don't believe that's something you should be doing, and I just want to make sure that you're not going to be sexually intimate with the other relationships here. Like, I totally have all the trust in the world for you, but at the same time I just want to make sure we're on the same page. Like, if you told me you're going to have sex or you had sex with one or multiple of these guys, I would be wanting to go home 100 percent."

Hannah Sends Luke P Home After Fantasy Suite Warning! | The Bachelorette US www.youtube.com

If delivered differently and with more tact, his concerns could've been reasonable. Instead, he began by aligning the other contestants against him and weaponizing his connection with Hannah to make assumptions about how she should act. Then, he backtracked by asserting that he had faith in her and finally threatened their relationship if she didn't live up to his standards. The loaded speech demonstrates his continued pattern of emotional manipulation. When Hannah disagreed with what he said, he continued to backtrack by claiming that he would work with her through anything, even a "slip-up." Similarly, earlier in the season, he informed Hannah that he would stick by her even if she made a "boneheaded mistake."

Time and time again, Luke P. has utilized gaslighting as a way to maintain control in his relationship with Hannah. Whenever he's felt confident in their relationship, he's directly addressed his concerns with Hannah, but when he's felt their relationship was in jeopardy, he's used manipulation tactics to assert what he wants out of the relationship. However, whenever he's "slipped up," the responsibility hasn't fallen on him because he's protested that he was just "misunderstood"—after lying straight to Hannah's face.

Overall, every time Luke P. has been in the wrong, he's asserted his needs, manipulated the truth, and then backtracked whenever Hannah responded poorly. In their blowout last night, he fell back on the same pattern: confront, manipulate to gain power (occasionally lying), and then backtrack to save face.

Whatever good Hannah saw in Luke P. prior to Fantasy Suite week has been washed away. When Luke P. tried to wield religion against Hannah to shame her, she called him out on it. The Bachelorette proved that she had her Biblical receipts, retorting, "You know the story in the Bible when the woman was called out for adultery, and she was stoned in the village, and Jesus said, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. You're holding your stone up at me and asking me what I've done."

Unfortunately, gaslighting in the Christian community isn't anything new. Too many self-righteous believers still condemn, shame, and utilize their beliefs to shame sinners and preach a narrow way of life. Hannah aptly addressed Luke P.'s hypocrisy by informing him, "Sex might be a sin out of marriage, but pride is a sin too." She continued, "It's like you're holding other people to a standard that you don't even live by."

Faith is meant to spread love and light. Like Hannah said, "I know that I have God in my heart, so I know that everything I do and who I am is light. I am light. Do I make mistakes? I'm not Jesus." Her commentary shed light on the stark contrast between more progressive, inclusive Christians who have embraced the modern world and others who stick to their outdated, hypocritical agendas (like those who are pro-life but don't care about keeping children in cages).

For the formerly apolitical show to air their conversation is a sign that the genre of "reality" TV is still expanding its social consciousness; in particular, it displays that the Bachelor Franchise has solid potential (even after 17 years) to spark new conversations and highlight important narratives. Unfortunately, as portrayed in the previews for next week, the producers seem to allow Luke P. to come back, undoubtedly to exasperate Hannah and continue the toxic drama that is Luke P.'s existence.

ABC's production seems to take a positive step forward by airing their candid conversation, but they still kept around an emotional abuser and then brought him back to let him try to manipulate his way back into Hannah's heart. At least Hannah Brown finally gained clarity and found her way out of a controlling relationship (for now). Hopefully, like other leads who have been forced to endure harmful, disruptive, racist, and misogynistic contestants, Hannah can come out on top, with continued love and respect for herself and her relationship with God.

TV

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?

The main Bachelorettes effected.

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.