Hollywood has done a lot of symbolic things in support of women in recent months. Black dresses at the Golden Globes. All-female presenters at the SAG Awards. White roses at the Grammys.
And seemingly everybody wearing Time’s Up pins.
Symbolism is great. Raising awareness is fantastic. But how about corporate Hollywood actually doing something concrete in support of women?
Cancel “The Bachelor.”
Warner Bros., which produces the show, and Disney-owned ABC, which airs it, have issued statements about how they support women. Canceling this show would be concrete evidence that it’s not all just talk.
The so-called reality show is a festival of offensive female stereotypes. Unless you think dozens of women doing anything thing they can in pursuit of a man is empowering.
(”The Bachelor” airs Mondays at 7 p.m. on ABC/Ch. 4)
Emily Maynard, who appeared on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” described it like this in a piece she wrote for Marie Claire magazine:
DISAGREE? LET ME KNOW • Is there some redeeming value to “The Bachelor” that I’m missing? Can you make a case that it’s not sexist? I want to hear from you. Email your rebuttal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This guy likes you, and he gives you a rose. If he doesn’t, you don’t get a rose, and then you’re crying in a limo and the whole world’s going to see it. It’s just giving the guy all the power, and that seems very sad.”
It’s like something straight out of the 1950s, when women were expected to be housewives. (OK, sometimes nurses, secretaries or teachers.) And a lot of the women on “The Bachelor” bring that I’m-desperate-to-land-a-man vibe to the 21st century. They’re so desperate for the man to propose that they’ll battle dozens of other women.
Not every contestant is like that. But the show focuses on the worst of the women — the ones who are phony and manipulative, who backstab and catfight.
The show is constructed so the women have to hope the man proposes. There’s often a discussion about the woman relocating to be with the man; it rarely goes the other way. If the man has sex with multiple women, he’s a stud; when “Bachelorette” Andi Dorfman was outed by Nick Viall, one of the two men with whom she had sex on that show, the ensuing slut-shaming was off the charts.
And Viall was rewarded by headlining a season of “The Bachelor.”
But it was also troubling that Dorfman quit her job as an assistant district attorney so she could go on a phony reality-dating show. Lots of women quit their jobs, but the Bachelors aren’t expected to do that.
And there are rivers of tears from women who aren’t strong enough to find validation in anything other than being the little wifey.
The two Utah women who were on the current season fared better than many, although some of the other contestants extended their claws when Maquel Cooper arrived to meet bachelor Arie Luyendyk Jr. in a race car. Marikh Mathias mostly flew under the radar, largely avoiding the catfights and getting relatively little screen time — perhaps because she and Cooper were eliminated in the most recent episode.
On every season of “The Bachelor,” women are made to conform to stereotypes. The crazy one. The lush. The bitch. The virgin. Season 19 spent a great deal of time focusing on/mocking the two virgins, delivering the message that they were weird.
Do you want your daughters watching this?
Frankly, if one of my daughters went on this show, I’d have a stroke. Not because “The Bachelor” is ludicrous. (They’re looking for true love on national TV?) But because the show is fundamentally anti-woman.
In a 2010 interview on “20/20,” creator/executive producer Mike Fleiss said that the show’s terrible track record — one wedding in 21 previous seasons of “The Bachelor” — doesn’t matter because its success is “really based on whether [the viewers] like the guy and hate the girls.”
Hating women is the actual definition of misogyny.
And even the women’s unhappiness makes for good TV. “Those who don’t like to see happy endings like to see other women in misery, and so when the girls start crying they feel ‘At least it’s not me,’ ” Fleiss said.
You have to REALLY want to be on TV to sign up for “The Bachelor.”
You can argue that “The Bachelor” is escapism — TV fluff — but that doesn’t alter the fact that teens and preteens are growing up with this as an example. And that it’s being sold as “reality.”
And, no, “The Bachelorette” doesn’t balance the scales. The men on that show are more empowered, and even if they weren’t, it wouldn’t wipe away the sexism of “The Bachelor.”
But there is something Warner Bros. and Disney can do about all this. Cancel “The Bachelor.” And “The Bachelorette,” “Bachelor in Paradise” and any other spinoffs while they’re at it.
Time has run out on this cultural anachronism.