Trigger Warning: slut shaming and sex work shaming
PSA: Sex work is real work. In 2021, slut shaming and the sex work stigma are apparently alive and well. In this week’s episode of “The Bachelor,” contestant Brittany Galvin is subjected to nasty, petty treatment by the other contestants. Although it could be shrugged off as “shade,” Anna Redman spreading rumors of Galvin’s alleged sex work was both insidiously immoral and an unnecessary plotline for this episode.
Five newcomers were introduced to Matt James as a mid-season twist: Brittany Galvin, Michelle Young, Catalina Morales, Kim Li and Ryan Claytor. Classic shocked face pans and a reality TV feud would have sufficed in terms of drama, but “escort-gate” was a cruel addition to what could have been a fun episode.
Sex workers are rarely portrayed kindly in the media, and this dangerous accusation is no exception to the rule. Using “escort” as an insult and as a means to damage character contributes to societal fear of sex workers. According to a 2019 report by the World Health Association, sex workers have been heavily discriminated against by law and healthcare, assaulted at higher rates and vilified in their communities, according to a 2019 report by the World Health Association. If Galvin has worked as a sex worker, she was outed and shamed on national TV. This could be a threat to her personal life, work and her safety. If Galvin was never a sex worker, she is a woman publicly humiliated by lies about her sex life. It was a disturbing and dystopian plot line.
Also, this is “The Bachelor!” A frothy experience of multiple women chasing after a man and showing off their bodies with cute dresses. Many viewers and critics of “The Bachelor” have called the contestants sluts for participating in the program. The kissing sessions and the fantasy suite put female sexuality on full display.
The slut and sex work shaming are not only immoral but act as an antithesis to the show. In recent years, acceptance of women cast out by sexism, even the ones who don’t dress and act like Gloria Steinem, is a growing movement. Being educated and articulate is a good place for a woman, along with being a “bimbo.” Staying a virgin until marriage is a great choice for a woman to make, and consensually sleeping with as many people as their heart desires is too. Housewives and lawyers are equally valid. “The Bachelor,” of all programs, has always combined traditional femininity and nontraditional views of women.
“Being educated and articulate is a good place for a woman, along with being a “bimbo.” Staying a virgin until marriage is a great choice for a woman to make, and consensually sleeping with as many people as their heart desires is too. Housewives and lawyers are equally valid”
Why can’t a woman pursue marriage in the assertive way men traditionally woo a woman? Second and third wave feminism struggled with proving that marriage and frilliness were not all women could be, according to a Vox article by Constance Grady, but in the process potentially discounted many expressions of femininity. We see this modern struggle with the “Bimbo movement” versus “Not like other girls” girls. As problematic as “The Bachelor” can be, it proudly claims outlandish girly-ness. Fairytale storylines, roses and one handsome bachelor. Bachelor nation is primarily composed of female and LGBTQ+ fans. The show is escapism, a place where femininity and female sex are not seen as weak.
Crucifying Galvin was unpopular and upset fans. Sex workers and supporters of sex work watch “The Bachelor,” and in this season promoting diversity, the bigotry was uncalled for. Both the Twitter Bachelor nation and most of “The Bachelor” contestants were not in on the shaming, because shaming sexuality is simply not what “The Bachelor” is about. Hopefully, an incident like this doesn’t happen again and more enjoyable drama continues. Props to Katie again for sticking up for sex positive viewpoints. She is mature, beautiful and deserved her rose. Only the best for my future Bachelorette.
Rating: 2/5 stars. This episode was not fun, and I only watch for Katie and Matt interacting with goats at this point.