The most recent episode of The Bachelorette was *pretty* revealing, in more ways than one.
Episode 5 saw Alabama Hannah and her remaining men jet across the pond to find love and haggis in Scotland. But while all the men were working hard to show our Bach babe that they’re modern day Bravehearts, the episode proved something different: that they’re actually just straight up brutes.
Aside from Hanna seeing *all* the men’s wee bagpipes on a group date (wrestling and kilts—not a great combo), the episode inadvertently highlighted one of the show’s biggest problems. From the back and forth between Lukes P and S, to the Hulk Hogan-inspired group date, to some of the seriously problematic language used by the men, its become increasingly clear that The Bachelorette isn’t about the bachelorette at all, it’s about the men. And that’s not awesome.
The group dates are legit examples of toxic masculinity
We love the Highland Games as much as the next gal, but as fun as it was to watch the guys unsuccessfully throw axes and roll around in kilts (looking at you, Tyler C), the latest group date is just the latest in a trend of uber competitive group dates.
— anna (@annamarie_t16) June 12, 2019
This week’s date—which saw the men throw axes, carry buckets of milk, wrestle and use too many Braveheart references to count—follows the seriously dangerous rugby date from episode 4 (the one that started Luke-gate), and a string of aggressive, hyper-masculine dates in previous seasons of the show. The goal of these dates don’t seem to be about fostering a connection with the bachelorette as much as as it seems to be determining who’s the most physically dominant of the bunch. Because apparently we still live in the 1700s and women still swoon at muscly men doing the bare minimum?
As *many* of the contestants emphasized last night, they needed to beat out the other men to prove their devotion to Hannah—but TBH who really wins in this scenario? Certainly not Hannah, who really isn’t learning much about the men, aside from the fact that they can run with a bucket of milk. It’s literally one prolonged ego boost in kilts, set up for the men to try and compete… and not even for Hannah’s love! Just against each other.
Compare these group dates to the ones on The Bachelor, which have featured the female contestants doing everything from a compatibility test (on Ben Higgins’ season) to learning and performing a fun Moulin Rouge-inspired routine on Ari Luyendyk’s season. (Okay, that sounds like my personal hell, but the sentiment is nice.) Neither Ari’s nor Ben’s dates are overtly competitive, and both allow the bachelor to actually take part—as opposed to relegating them to a bystander waiting to be “won.”
Annoyingly, Hannah appears to be 100% on board with these competitive group dates, repeatedly saying that she wants a man who’s physically strong—which apparently is indicative of a strong heart?—but TBH girl, that doesn’t add up. Just look at Luke P., a man who dominated on the rugby pitch, but we can all pretty much agree is the president of the red flag society.
The language some of the men use is super… icky
And by “icky” we mean toxic and possessive. Maybe it was the constant back-and-forth from the Lukes and about the Lukes, but if episode 5 highlighted anything, it’s that the language a lot of the men are using is hella problematic.
And even our fave next bachelor (fingers crossed!) Mike B isn’t immune. Mid rose-ceremony, Luke S pulled Hannah aside to apologize for the conflict and excuse himself from the show. While the rest of the men waited for Hanna and Luke S to return, they did what they love to do best: talk about each other. While discussing Luke S’s decision to pull our bachelorette aside, Mike summed up his reasoning, telling the other men: “[He’s] fighting for his livelihood as a man.”
Which, we’re sorry Mike, but that is *not* the correct use of the word livelihood. Also, it’s just straight up wrong. In essence, Mike is saying that Luke S’s masculinity and manhood are tied to his ability to stay on the show. His manhood is in direct relation to the affection of a woman, and we have to say: that’s no bueno.
But the worst comment of the evening had to come from the “Luke-Ness Monster” himself, during a post-rose ceremony toast that no one asked for. Giving everyone in the group straight up serial killer eyes, Luke P toasted to their next adventure, raising a glass: “To finding your forever and having the time of our lives while on the hunt.”
We’ve heard of “winning her affection,” but Luke P’s comments make it feel as if the men on Hannah’s season are legitimately hunting game. And we should *all* be creeped out by the implication that Hannah—the woman they’re all supposed to be there for—is prey.
Luke P’s language just reinforces the idea that Hannah is an object that can be won. Not, you know, a living, breathing woman with real dimensions and a mind of her own. It positions the men’s quest for love as something that’s not about Hannah or their feelings for her, but rather about finding another arena in which the men can compete against each other, one up each other and ultimately win. It’s a game. And Hannah is the trophy (wife) one lucky man will win at the end.
This feels especially wrong considering our current social and political landscape. Positioning women as prey is just not a good look in the wake of #MeToo, which highlighted just how often powerful men behave in predatory ways.
It enforces problematic gender roles—like, a lot
And btw? Toxic masculinity infuses the entire franchise. Just look at the kind of men that are even chosen to be on the show. For every Pilot Peter, there are about 100 Chads, the TV villain from JoJo Fletcher’s season, who described himself as manly and made fun of men who discussed their feelings.
If most contestants aren’t as overtly toxic as Chad, the men who are chosen to vie for the bachelorette’s heart do follow a *very* similar script: aggressive, muscly, conventionally attractive, rugged, manly-men. And hyper-masculine and competitive group dates just further emphasize the importance of these traits. Exhibit A:
Many of the men repeatedly emphasize that they’re ready to throw down for the affection of the woman they (purport) to love. Even Peter, who some may see as an exception to this rule thanks to his sweet disposition and endearing awkwardness, fits the bill. He’s conventionally attractive and similarly wants to “fight” for Hannah by showing his physical prowess.
These expectations are absolutely related to the constraints the franchise puts on bachelorettes and female contestants, which mostly revolve around being sweet, pious and pure. We know that there’s an expectation these women look a certain way, and they spend up to $40,000 to attain it. And there are consequences if they don’t meet these expectations. In Season 18 of The Bachelor, contestant Clare Crawley was essentially slut-shamed by Bachelor Juan Pablo Galavis after the two spent some ~intimate~ time in the hot tub together. During Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season of The Bachelorette, she literally received death threats after sleeping with contestant Nick Viall on their first one-on-one date. Madonna-Whore Complex, much? So yeah, toxic masculinity is bad for everyone.
All we can say, Bach franchise: