While lying completely sprawled out across my couch with a plush blanket and an empty almond container, I realized that A. I had watched all 9 episodes of the Bachelor, and B. I was getting so flipping angry at Juan Pablo.
That’s right. For all you ladies worldwide who watch reality television and like your weekly dosage of hot steamy drama as a man tries to find his future wife in some place like Bora Bora, you know what I’m talking about. And if you’re reading this in a different country right now, you still know what I’m talking about. The Bachelor has become a globally known reality series that melts every girl’s heart and creates the greatest, and fakest prince charming fairytale that television produces. But despite its shear ridiculousness of forced relationships, The Bachelor also raises some deeper issues. Distracted by Juan Pablo’s accent and bright yellow cotton shirts until episode 6, Miss Strong began to realize that this season of The Bachelor is one of the greatest portrayals of the “assumed role of the woman,” and not only has it demeaned many woman, but has built some up as well.
It’s pretty much a straight given that the idea of The Bachelor downgrades the women species. We see a handsome man look into the camera and tell us that all he wants is love and a family, but let’s be real here. What he’s really trying to say is, “All I want is a roomful of woman in tight bright dresses who are helplessly staring at me.” But….it’s obviously the same thing.
As many women are eliminated during the first couple episodes because “there was not a connection” (meaning “they weren’t hot enough for me at first sight even though they probably had a really wonderful personality”) competition rises and the remaining women begin traveling around the world with the bachelor…what a lucky man he is. If a woman gets picked to move on to the next week she feels good about herself, and if she’s eliminated she feels like she’s worthless. If she isn’t wearing make-up: worthless compare to the others. She isn’t smiling…she’s basically worthless. We hear and see the woman gushing over how great of a guy he is, how much they can’t wait to see him, and how much they are in love with him, but like please…let’s talk about how much he should be waiting to see you. All Juan Pablo has really done so far is…well, stand there. For some reason, I’m still not seeing why the idea of a flock of woman following a man around Vietnam is uplifting and empowering.
We’re finally midway through the season, when almost every single woman on this planet is head over heels in love with Juan because he doesn’t really speak English, and because all he’s really said, are three words in English. “But it’s ok.” He’s gone on dates with all the remaining women, and after spending time with each one, does a quick recap on how he feels and what he likes about them to their parents. Want me to remind you? They’re all beautiful, sexy, and pretty.
Woman are more than that. A woman can be sexy, and she can be smart. A woman can be pretty, and she can be a kick butt CEO. A woman can be beautiful, and she can lift massive amounts of iron weight in the gym. A woman’s description and the essence of who she is, is not limited to three words that strictly describe her outer physical appearance. A woman does not need to simply represent sex, and above all does not need to fit a certain ideal in order to fit into what a bachelor, or any man wants. Our world has an ideal fantasy of the woman that has dated back for thousands of years. We use art, television, media, and even daily interactions with friends or in the school hallways to constantly remind women of what they should be, and what they are expected to be. Women are not cardigan sweaters that get purchased after someone surveys the entire store for better sweaters. You either know you want the sweater you see, or you don’t. Watching a roomful of women in high heels and plastered whitened smiles stare at a man while he takes his pick from the litter does not reveal their individual potential, nor show the world how strong and real they can be. Where them real woman at?! Suddenly we look up from our popcorn bowl and while reaching for a napkin realize that all the women on the show who expected highly of themselves and their future have been eliminated.
The entire controversy at the end of the season of The Bachelor was this (and if you’re a die hard reality fan and have not seen the last couple of episodes yet, stop reading, SPOILER ALERT WARNING): One of the girls on the show didn’t like feeling like part of a herd, and at the very end, spent some “alone” time with the bachelor…the next day she informed the entire world that he talked about himself all night, never asked about her or what she liked to do, and simply did not care. Miss Strong doesn’t care about any of that. Drama is drama, and I’m actually a firm disliker of reality television…too much is not healthy. What Miss Strong does care about, is that for the first time pretty much ever, a woman on reality television decided to rebel and leave, because she was smart enough to realize what’s wrong with our world, and wanted to be strong, individual, and respected.
If this had not happened, I wouldn’t have thought to publish this article. When this woman had a fight with the bachelor and left St. Lucia, and the show, women all around the country were thrown for a loop; WHO WILL HE MARRY NOW?! Half of you probably secretly thought, “she just wasted so much publicity and a really great man” while the other half of you hopefully were over there like, YGG! You go girl, you just woke our entire country up from behind their half eaten chocolate boxes and closed TV room blinds, and proved what it means to be a STRONG, WOMAN.
1:48 in and sure enough: “When I have emotions, I want someone to talk about them. Do you have any idea what religion I practice? What my political views are? My views on social issues, things that matter? How I want to raise my kids? You don’t take me seriously.” And the answer, of course was, “No….but it’s ok.”
The take away point is this. Not all men are like Juan Pablo or assume the role of the Bachelor, and our entire world does in truth expect a lot more from women than it used to. However, the problem that remains is not because of men…or that one guy, or the world. The problem, is women being afraid to stand up, and earn respect from the person who isn’t respecting them. The problem, is that women expect little of themselves, because they think it’s appropriate. When girls on my college campus walk into the weight room…they either don’t, or they laugh at themselves and then resume cardio, because they’ve convinced themselves that that’s what’s expected of them, and that they need to act accordingly. You don’t need to be a rebellious woman, or a woman who fights with people, or someone who is constantly butting heads with an underestimating Juan Pablo sitting beside you. But you do need to love yourself, and respect yourself. There will always be people who don’t respect you…always. Everywhere you go. That’s how this world is. So don’t add to it.
YOU are a WOMAN, A GIRL AND A LADY. That means that you too, deserve respect in relationships, in the gym, and in your daily world. You are allowed to be strong and smart, and you are allowed to surround yourself with people and men who recognize that. But even more importantly, you’re allowed to stand in a room wearing high heels and an incredibly tight dress, and know that while you may look sexy to any man standing in front of you with a rose, you can want him to care about your political and personal views while challenging him to a bench pressing competition. You’re allowed to share your favorite aspect of politics with the public, rather than your favorite flower or board game. You’re high heels do not limit you. You can be sexy, and you can also be strong. You are allowed to be both. “It’s ok.”