When Reality TV Does Something for Feminism.

Back during Valentines Weekend, I did a blog series about all things love, including one post called “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop…but Maybe I Should?” This post explored my guilty pleasure, ABC’s The Bachelor and all of its spin-off shows.  In the blog, I opened up about some of my vexations with the show, namely that it has some very anti-Feminist tendencies.  I confessed that I might stop watching this franchise’s shows if it didn’t start portraying women in a different light.  Tonight, on this season’s “Men Tell All” episode, I got everything I was asking for.
I have always been a fan of this season’s Bachelorette, Kaitlyn Bristowe.  She was by far my favorite contestant on the previous season of The Bachelor, because I loved her tattoos, witty antics, sense of adventure, and soft heart underneath it all (let’s be honest, I want to be best friends with the girl!).

KB Being Awesome

Love her

I was ecstatic to hear the news of her becoming the new Bachelorette, and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching her journey to find love this season.  What I have not enjoyed, however, is reading through all of the backlash she has received on social media because of some personal decisions she made that would ultimately affect her future infinitely more than any of the people writing about her.
Allow me to explain: Kaitlyn has been more intimate with the show’s contestants than previous Bachelorettes have, at least that we know of.  As a result, social media has been plagued with degrading and down-right disgraceful comments about her, calling her every derogatory name in the book.  The worst part of all is that most of the people doing the shaming are WOMEN!  Despite the fact that I might not have personally made the same decisions as Kaitlyn if I were in her shoes, I expect more from my gender.  In a world that constantly seeks to belittle us, I expect us to band together and handle our differences with a little more dignity, class, and compassion.  I also expect people to steer clear from judgment, because we all make mistakes (one of my friends from church said it best—if you “call out” someone, you are not coming from a place of concern for them; you are coming from a place of judgment).
Tonight, I got to watch ABC do something incredible and fight back.  The show’s host, Chris Harrison, publicly showed some of the tweets and messages that Kaitlyn has received so that all of America could see just how far some people have taken their criticism.  They read the tweets/comments/etc. word for word.  I hope the authors of said words were cringing in their seats at home, because people need to realize the effect that words can have, even if those words are composed in cowardice behind a computer screen.  Chris Harrison’s gesture completely blew me away, and I applaud him and ABC for doing it.  It did not seem like a ploy for higher ratings, but rather a genuine act of concern for Kaitlyn.  Chris Harrison also kept up with Twitter and came to her defense if anyone continued to harass her or question why ABC’s gesture was even important.

Harrison

Chris Harrison
Here’s the thing: the gesture WAS important.  Gender bias is unacceptable… cyber-bullying is unacceptable… being downright cruel is unacceptable.  Yet, so many of these issues are swept under the rug.  I’m glad ABC took a stand! And, while it was probably done with only Kaitlyn in mind (as it should have been), it was a crucial move for American pop culture and for Feminism.  Maybe it sounds like I’m being dramatic, but bear with me.  Isn’t it nice to see a progressive move on Reality TV for a change?  Isn’t it nice to hear someone stick up for a woman and derail the vicious double standards that rage rampantly throughout our country?  I could not stop smiling for the rest of the episode.
I am hoping that this is a move in the right direction for ABC.  I think picking Kaitlyn Bristowe as The Bachelorette (or at least one of the possible contenders) was a positive choice as well.  She has shown time and time again that she does not care to say off-the-cuff things, act differently than people might expect, and stay true to herself even if her actions were sometimes not the most popular.  She owns everything about herself, including her mistakes.  And while some people may argue otherwise, I think she is a beacon of class (coupled with some modern sass).  She has also taught us some valuable lessons along the way, like the importance of a free spirit, the essentiality of self-worth, and the healing power of forgiveness. Andi Dorfman, another Bachelorette whom I adored, said it best.

Andi Dorfman
I have nothing but respect and admiration for this season’s Bachelorette.  While I do not envy her having to put up with a lot of prejudiced morons, I am so thankful that she is willing to stand up for what she believes in.  Tonight, she proved that one person can make a big impact.  Her staying true to herself along this entire journey motivated what I previously considered a regressive television franchise to take a bold stand.  I hope she realizes the gravity of what just happened, but more than that, I hope she realizes what an awesome person she is.

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