To be perfectly honest, he has a point. Can a guy dating multiple women be a feminist and an advocate for gender equality? And can those calling themselves feminists be so if they’re tuning in to watch?
The whole premise of the show is about women (predominantly white women at that) competing for a man who has all the power – hardly an empowering message for the thousands of female viewers.
In previous seasons, contestants have had to look after robot babies to prove they’d be good mums and slut-shamed for working in the sex industry when male Bachelors who have worked in the same industry were given the tick of approval.
And yet, every year without fail, self-confessed feminists eagerly watch the candlelit dates and cut-throat catfights, chatting about it with their girlfriends and colleagues.
So why do we watch it?
Speaking about the American franchise, writer Anna Breslaw told Vogue that she reckons the reason why a lot of “cerebral, New Yorker–reading women” are fans is because it’s “a funhouse version of our own dating lives at one time.”
“We’ve all dated the fratty douche who got too drunk on the first date, the emotionally removed asshole you shouldn’t fall for but you do, the totally-nice-and-cute-so-why-don’t-I-feel-it guy,” she explained.
The Huffington Post’s Emma Gray, who also co-hosts US Bachie podcast Here To Make Friends added: “The Bachelor hits us in that really vulnerable part of ourselves where we all want love and fulfillment.”
It’s true – we’ve always had that fairytale of the handsome prince and beautiful princess falling for one another, overcoming adversity and living happily ever after together. We’ve had those stories told and retold to us since childhood and it’s hard to get that traditional love story format out of our heads.
In a chat with Body and Soul, psychologist and NSW CEO of Relationships Australia, Elisabeth Shaw says that no one can be that poster child feminist 24/7, adding that having the choice to be politically incorrect and indulge in a guilty pleasure like The Bachelor is part of the fun of being an adult.
“It’s like any other reality show” Shaw told the publication. “Sometimes watching people behave badly is a bit of an outlet in itself. Sometimes watching what you really don’t want to be doing is clarifying. A way of checking in – and asking yourself ‘Would I put up with that?’ or ‘Would I go along with that?”.
“Whether it’s The Bachelor, or Married at First Sight, or Wife Swap, there seems to be a perennial theme – ‘How do I find a great love match?’ We might be busy trying to be a feminist, but we’re also busy trying to find love. These things can run parallel.’”
Whether, like Izzy’s mum, you identify as a feminist or not, it’s safe to say there has been some eyebrow-raising behaviour shown towards women on the show ever since it kicked off in 2013. But as guilty pleasures go, this one continues to be one of the nation’s favourites.