How we win: How to resist the pernicious sexism of The Bachelor yet still enjoy the spectacle; or how to deconstruct your cake and eat it.
Something you should know about Le Boss Fox: there is almost no reality TV that I won’t watch. You name it- all the Love and Hip Hops, all of my beloved Real Housewives franchises (literally. every. single. one.) Even DC, Vancouver and Miami!! Win!! (Shoutout to my fellow aficionados who get that reference.) Basically everything Bravo puts out, most of what VH1 put out, some of what E puts out and finally anything made in Australia where I live. I freaking love it all and I have zero fucking shame about. It shows and teaches me many interesting things. I would happily write a PHD in deconstructing the conventions and tropes contained within the mode. I love it (did I mention I love it?). And that, my friends, is that.
Once you’ve watched enough of this stuff, the dark arts and machinations of the producers become obvious; consequently that’s when things get interesting. When you’re fairly certain you can separate the contrived and the artificial from the real, you catch the revelations, the genuine emotion and the authentic relationships that occur- in what are often deliberately constructed pressure -cooker environments. FASCINATING. What is always most interesting to any audience is seeing ourselves reflected back at us. I will just as happily watch actors performing Shakespeare live at a theatre as watch a different kind of actor expose truths (unwittingly or otherwise) about the human condition on The Bachelor.
Shouting at dinner
All of this is pre-amble to my point about the spark that lit the burning flame of righteous indignation within Le Boss Fox last night. I was watching The Bachelor (Aussie version). Now I’m not going to say that at a certain juncture I ripped off my head-phones and shouted “THIS IS HOW THEY WIN” at my startled husband and two small sons at the dinner table because then you might judge me for ignoring them in the first place. Let’s just say a blonde female person living at my house did that. Hint: *It was me.*
Oh no he fucking didn’t
So there I was, deal made with my dear husband that I would watch The Bachelor at dinner on my computer (wearing headphones) so he didn’t have to suffer through it later (win – win). And this is what Richie, the face that flashes up on your pantone colour chart under the heading basic beige, said to Nikki (to be fair, she seems nice) on their “date”. Richie, who has confused driving quickly with having an actual personality, looks deeply and sincerely into Nice Nikki’s eyes and actually says:
FUCK, IT’S STILL IRRITATING ME.
He doesn’t say that, what he actually said is still irritating me.
He says, with as much gravitas as someone who may as well be a houseplant can muster: “Nikki, I’m not looking for a good time girl. I’m looking for a girl I can have a future with.”
What he’s trying to say
Now, there’s some heavy subtext in that statement. Chiefly regarding his obvious sexual attraction to Nice Nikki’s rival, Sexually Voracious Single-Mum Alex, but also regarding his “relationships” with all the other contestants. I think Richie and Nikki genuinely like each other. She’s definitely won
a year of Daily Mail sidebar coverage and New Idea cover stories Richie’s heart. In the limited time they have together, all of which is filmed, he’s pumping Nice Nikki’s tyres (she’s a good girl not a good-time girl) and indicating she shouldn’t be jealous of his “acting” like he’s enjoying kissing at least 6 other beautiful, lively women desperately competing for his attention.
Because Nikki is worthy, pure, chaste and “honest.”
And the others are sluts.
AND SHE EATS IT UP AND THIS IS HOW THEY WIN.
Now I don’t actually think “they” means every man. Cool your jets, enlightened men. However, I do think “they” are a certain type of man, some who don’t know any better and some who do know better but want to protect their privilege at the crest of the patriarchy. When I say “they” I also include all the women co-opted by the patriarchy into swallowing and perpetuating this UTTER FUCKING BULLSHIT.
Guess what girls
Here’s the news: women, you can be both a good and a good-time girl. You can have a good time and yet be worthy of a future with a man you love. You can drink, dance, work, travel. Furthermore, you can wear whatever you want, kiss whoever you want and fuck whoever you want and still be worthy of a fantastic, happy relationship. You can even be worthy of motherhood too, if that’s what you wish for.
When you let yourself be put in the “good-girl” category and feel pleased by and proud of that, and a little conceited about that, THEY WIN.
You are being reduced, limited, muzzled and oppressed and they are making you feel good about it! Those patriarchs and their hand-maidens haven’t been in charge all of this time without learning a few tricks. They will reward you for conforming to this trope. They will praise you and venerate you. They will castigate women who fall into the other category so that you are afraid of stepping out of line!
When you let this happen, THEY WIN.
How we win
So how do we make sure we win? This is the glorious part. Be unapologetic about enjoying yourself. Demand pleasure and fulfilment. Eat, drink, dance, love, parent and feel no shame. Call out their narrow, constricted, double standard-having, disingenuous, hypocritical, sexist bullshit. Above all be good girls having a good time and refuse to let anyone tell you otherwise. Teach your sons and daughters and your nieces and nephews to do the same. Love every dark, deep, strange and wonderful bit of yourself, fully and with pride. That is how we win.