Culture

The Bachelor Franchise Has A Problem With Toxic Masculinity

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The latest season of The Bachelor might have already started in Australia, but people are still riled up about some of the toxic behaviour that played out on this year’s Bachelor in Paradise.

The show’s been heavily called out for being sexist and for its portrayal of male stereotypes, which a lot of people are arguing were harmful and anything but funny.

I want to figure out how this season of Bachelor in Paradise led to a discussion around toxic masculinity. And whether airing this behaviour in the first place, can be beneficial in calling it out.

But first, what went down this season?

Tahlia Pritchard: “It was interesting because it showed a lot of toxic behaviour we are not really used to seeing on the Bachie franchise in particular.”

That’s Tahlia Pritchard, she’s the Editor of Punkee and has been covering the Bachelor franchise for a while now.

TP: “There was a whole Bulla Banquet centered around the ‘bro-code’ which was kind of gross to watch. And things really came to a head when these men started fighting each other and yelling about women being property.”

The worst offender was Ciarran Stott, who was called out for his behaviour towards the women he pursued on the show.

His toxicity became really clear when he expected another contestant to ask his permission before dating his ex-girlfriend.

There were a bunch of moments like this throughout the season, and people are calling them problematic because of the way that they reinforce the drivers of toxic masculinity.

That’s essentially anything that holds up the idea that men should be held to emotionless, hard, and violent standards.

Toxic masculinity is a massive conversation and Bachelor in Paradise is a reality dating show, which isn’t normally the landscape of such social commentary.

Pritchard believes that showing this kind of behaviour on a show like Paradise actually does more harm than good, and that more airtime could’ve been used to show the more respectful relationships forming between contestants.

Especially since nothing good actually came from calling out Ciarran, who still has a significant social following (and revenue stream) outside of Paradise.

TP: “Seeing this behaviour on screen is kind of reinforcing to younger audiences that sure, you can get a villain edit, but you still get rewarded at the end of the day.

If we’re showing these behaviours and there’s no action, or responsibility, or remorse coming out of it then what’s the point? There’s no lessons being learned.”

Arguably the most frustrating thing about this, is that it was up to the women on the show to call out the toxic behaviours – which is exactly happens way too often in broader society.

US Representative AOC recently gave a speech in the House of Representatives that called out the sexist behaviour of another, male representative.

And musicians like Stella Donnelly have been trailblazers by explicitly singing about the shortcomings of men in their creative work.

With Bachelor in Paradise, a lot of people were left feeling that really, the guys just should have been aware of their own behaviour.

TP: “It would’ve been really nice for the other guys to step up and pull their bros into line. If the bro-code means that much to them – like call your mates out when they’re behaving like that.”

The Takeaway

Pritchard told me that if we saw male contestants calling out toxic behaviour, or if a contestant like Jamie was afforded his opportunity to show an emotional reaction without being made into a joke – maybe this discussion of toxic masculinity could’ve been beneficial.

But instead, Bachie fans hope the show sticks to what it’s good at: helping people fall quickly and superficially in love.