Why reality TV show The Bachelor does nothing to empower women

We all love a good reality show, right? Especially when true love is at stake. But there’s something about The Bachelor — just started in its new ITVBe home after a three-year hiatus to recover from its Channel 5 run — that kind of goes against everything we stand for.

We’re all about women empowering women. But let’s face it — these ladies have no chance. The entire premise of the show, which started in the U.S. in 2002 and has versions in 14 other countries around the world, is an “eligible” single bachelor whittling down a pool of potential romantic interests over several weeks, until he is left with the woman he wishes to marry.

Yes, that’s right. Women want to be wives so badly they’re willing to go on television and compete with a group of other women for the hand in marriage of a man they don’t even know.

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Basically no matter how nice our Bachelor may be he’s simply playing a bunch of women off against each other. It’s the reality TV equivalent of sleeping around that we’re somehow expected to accept because it’s on television and because he’s looking for love. Down several girls’ throats and possibly inside their bikini tops.

But hold on a second: there’s a spin-off show, The Bachelorette, which turns the tables and has several men competing for the affections of a woman. This makes it all OK, right? Sadly, no. The latest series of The Bachelorette, which will soon be aired in the U.S. and might as well be called “The 1950s Housewife,” is already being labelled sexist after revealing its “surprise twist.”

“For the first time in Bachelorette history, we’re gonna have two Bachelorettes,” host Chris Harrison announced at the series finale of the most recent series of The Bachelor in the U.S. “That’s right, it is going to be Britt and Kaitlyn. So the 25 men, on night one, they are going to have the ultimate say on who they think would make the best wife.” Even in previous series of The Bachelorette it was the men who were in control, even though a woman was handing out the roses. Men made the rules and decided if and when to propose. Additionally every single Bachelorette since the first series in 2003 has been a losing contestant from a previous series of The Bachelor. Giving a poor rejected woman a second chance to find love, you might say.

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So now The Bachelor is back on U.K. screens and time will tell how it goes down with a British audience. It’s actually the 16th series of the show that we’re being treated to, which aired in the U.S. in 2012. The Bachelor himself is California winemaker Ben Flajnik, who’s actually no stranger to the show having been runner-up on the seventh series of The Bachelorette (his marriage proposal was turned down).

The first episode, during which Flajnik met the 25 ladies ready to fight for his love, was certainly entertaining. We saw the first hint of claws being sharpened, one woman drinking too much and wailing like a banshee in the bathroom and two contestants who seemed far more interested in flirting with each other than with Flajnik. Expect lots of the same to come, along with plenty of backstabbing, hot tub action and a huge step backwards for the gender equality movement.

The Bachelor continues on ITVBe, Friday at 9 p.m.

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