I realized something this past week: The Bachelorette is my favorite show. I can’t say why, and I don’t know that I’ll always feel this way, but like drunkenly pulling smarmy, ugly leather jacket-clad Nick into your Ireland hotel room in a feverish passion, the heart wants what the heart wants. And this week, I’ve just wanted The Bachelorette.
As a show, The Bachelor is a really straightforward narrative of patriarchy: there’s a single boring white dude, and 30 women with blonde highlights and unthreatening careers fighting over him. The Bachelorette, however, is more of a mind-fuck. It more or less always brings us the same tired cliches about hetero romance and gender, the same negative stereotypes and narrow views of womanhood as its brother program, but it’s all wrapped up in a kind of faux female empowerment—a crowd of HOT TOPLESS GUYS with SIX-PACKS, OMG, fawning over one lucky single gal in a glorious triumph for feminism and equal opportunity. This is our turn, ladiesssss!
For a brief moment on this past week’s episode though, it felt like it kind of was. There was indeed a tiny glimmer of feminism, in which the show decided to cater to Kaitlyn’s sluttiness. To be perfectly clear, by saying sluttiness I of course am joking about the double standards that the show and our horrid patriarchal culture perpetuate around female sexuality; by Kaitlyn’s sluttiness I do of course mean her Totally Healthy Female Sexuality. The show saw that Kaitlyn was being unapologetically sexual, and they did some helpful rearranging to cater to it. Continue reading