I have never been able to watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. My roommates in college used to kick me out of the house on Monday nights because I am so cynical about the entire franchise (particularly The Bachelor but we will get to that). They couldn't stand to have me in the room because I was such a buzzkill. I know everyone loves it. I know its popular.
I get it, but that doesn't mean I will ever like it.
Most of my friends think I'm a little over the top in my feelings about this TV show, but I think I have just the right amount of indignation towards it. I've talked to plenty of people who love the show, and most of them agree that the premise is demeaning and ridiculous, yet we all support this farce that ABC calls "love."
Let's think about this for a minute. How many people do you know who are completely OK with their significant other dating someone else? How many of you would marry someone who had been dating several other people just days before proposing to you? If we are honest, we have to admit that most of us would never be alright with that situation.
The Bachelorette is bad enough, but the reason I think The Bachelor is slightly worse is because women struggle with self-image in a way that men don't. I do recognize the fact that men can have just as many self-esteem issues as women, and I know that it can be discouraging to a man's self-worth to be compared to 25 other men while fighting for the same woman.
However, women - no matter how confident - all struggle with self-image on some level. We are constantly told by peers, society, and the media that we are never thin enough, our skin is never firm, clear or tan enough, our boobs aren't perky enough, our legs aren't long enough, we don't have a "thigh gap" (the most ridiculous of all the image expectations), we just can't ever be "sexy" enough. It is shoved into our brains from all sides that if we aren't attracting the attention of the opposite sex then there must be something wrong with us. And what does this television show do? It shoves 25 women all in one place and forces them to fight over one guy.
Want to know the quickest way to cause a woman to have bigger self-image problems? Force her to compete with other incredibly attractive and beautiful women for the attention of one guy.
First of all, its obvious that ABC won't even pick you to be on the show unless you fit a certain image that is considered attractive by the general public. The women selected are all very thin, perfectly proportioned, beautiful women. The chances of randomly walking into a building and seeing that many gorgeous women all at once is basically nil, unless the building you're walking into is the Playboy mansion or hosting a Victoria Secret photo shoot. This also adds to the body image issues that every girl who watches the show already has.
And the fact that this season of The Bachelorette has two women and the guys got to choose which one continues the show after one short group meeting...
It's ridiculous and it makes me angry.
Second of all, all 25 of those women decide on night #1 that they are head over heels, ready to get married and start a family, totally, completely, in LOVE with the chosen bachelor. After one meeting. And it's not even a one-on-one meeting, it's a group meeting. It takes two seconds for each one of the women to declare that she absolutely can't live without Bob (or whatever his name is).
Then we get to the ridiculousness that is the decision making. Of course this is dragged out over several weeks, because this is TV and we have to have a good show that keeps people on edge and waiting to see what will happen next week. The contestants have to go through a series of group dates, one-on-one dates, and even two-to-one dates while the bachelor or bachelorette (depending on which show we are talking about) narrows down the contestants to find his or her soul-mate.
There are enough obstacles in the world to keep us from finding that one person we will spend the rest of our lives with without us creating competition for no reason.
The last phases of the selection process are the worst. He meets the last four girls' families before choosing one to kick to the curb. Of course, after "dating" for weeks and meeting her parents, she is devastated. Because now she's so invested and so "in love" that she can't understand why he didn't chose her over the other three. Then there are the closed-door overnight getaways.
Let's all be honest with each other and call it what it is. The contestant gets to have sex with the last three women (or men) before he (or she) decides who he will marry. He gets to test drive each one before making a decision that is supposed to impact the rest of his life. I realize that this sounds like a practical thing to do, except we are talking about people, not cars. Sex is not meant to be thrown around like it's no big deal. Sex is personal. It is intimate. There's a reason why your youth pastor in high school told you to save sex for marriage. Because if you have sex with the wrong person for the wrong reasons, someone will always get hurt. Always. And that's best-case-scenario.
And each girl knows. She knows that he's just been with someone else in a very intimate way. And she still insists that he is "the one" and that she is so in love.
Does anyone else see a problem with this??? It's socially acceptable adultery. Cheating.
Disguising it with a flashy TV show doesn't change that.
I know I lost a lot of you up there when I mentioned my archaic and outdated views about sex. I can deal with that. If you're still with me, I swear I'm almost done.
This is not love, a fact which is proven by the alarmingly low retention rate of the bachelor/bachelorette marriages.
Because love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast. It is not proud, rude, or self-seeking. Love is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
How much impatience, envy, boasting, manipulation, trash talking, and dishonesty is utilized by the contestants in order to win over the bachelor?
It bothers me that these relationships are the ones we romanticize. This is the standard we have created for ourselves regarding love and marriage. We are outraged when women aren't treated the same as men and we believe in feminism. Yet, we pit women against each other to fight over a man as if we are worthless without him.
This isn't healthy.
It isn't love.
And we need to stop pretending like it is.