How The New 'Bachelorette' Is An Insult To Gender Equality Movements

by Macie Berlin

“Ultimately, the men will decide who will make the best wife.”

This was Chris Harrison's subtitle after announcing the "biggest twist in bachelor history" on "The Bachelor: After the Final Rose" last night.

Nothing says "empowerment" like pitting two women against one another (again) in the presence of 25 viable men.

"The Bachelorette" has taken a new spin by supplying not one, but two rejected competitors (let's be honest: that's what they are) from Chris Soules' season to auction off as the next ladies to hand out roses.

Chris Harrison, though somewhat cryptic in his description, alluded to the idea that only one of these women would have the chance to end up happily ever after.

Naturally, that decision will be left up to the herd of men.


I get it, I do. As a reality television connoisseur, I see the draw here.

Kaitlyn, bachelorette number one, ticks off the boxes for humor, wit and personality; whereas, Britt, bachelorette two, is pretty to look at. Why not let that dichotomy play out on national television?

"The Bachelor" has been under scrutiny for the 18-plus seasons it's been on air. We see little racial diversity, gender normative behavior reinforced and more broken engagements than we care to recognize.

We still watch, however, because we know what to expect: drama, love, heartbreak and entertainment. We know what we're in for, and to be fair, so do the contestants on the show.

But, this is a new low. Do you know what month it is?

It's the month we take to remember pioneers like Susan B. Anthony, who fought for inches of equality and legal recognition as the minority gender in America.

This is the month we take special note toward the many unjust truths that exist for women.

We admit that one in three of us has been sexually or physically abused; we stand up against the wage gap for the same jobs and work; we cringe that only 32 percent of women are receiving a secondary education.

And, then, we make a mockery of supporting each other, building each other up and setting an example for the next generation by baiting two women in front of a group of men who get to tell them if they are suitable wives or not.

That's some bullsh*t.

The insecurities bred within us stem from the societal demands we burden: how we look, talk, love and mourn.

We label ourselves and our peers as sluts, bitches, gold diggers and prudes. We body shame and get body shamed for being too thin, fat or disproportionate.

We wonder if we're good enough if we don't have a husband, family and white picket fence by the time we're 30. We crumple under the pressure of the expectations for our gender, even if we don't admit it, and we hope we can find enough success to validate being a good woman.

Allowing a group of men to pick one of two women to say who makes a better wife is taking 100 steps backward.

Forget that we're perpetuating heteronormative values by holding the diamond ring as the ultimate prize; we're perpetuating defining our self-worth as females through another gender by letting them tell us if they want us or not.

This isn't Britt versus Kaitlyn; this is a loss for all women.

It doesn't matter which one of these ladies gives out the final rose. It doesn't matter if they get engaged, married or end up back in their single lives in which they currently reside.

It doesn't matter if they hug each other on the show and put on a brave face, or consider it a great experience.

It's the message that matters.

Instead of working together to crack the glass ceiling, take back some of these detrimental labels and advocate for the women who don't have access to basic human rights, we are sending the message that value is defined by being picked (or not being picked) by a man.

Viewership turns from watching a (very abnormal) love story unfold to picking sides -- #TeamKaitlyn or #TeamBritt.

Chris Harrison already got the ball rolling by asking live audience members to clap for the woman they believed was most viable.

We become eager to use those same labels that tear our self-esteem to pieces in order to project the “best” bachelorette.

The sad truth is so many of us are unsure of our worth until someone tells us, and for many of us, that someone is a man.

I, too, am subject to the insecurities that blaze underneath a facade of success and confidence without the security of a relationship.

We forget we have power to pick ourselves up and create our own paths, but only with a cohesive effort. We forget about the battle our ancestors put up in order for us to continue the journey.

The “biggest twist in bachelor history” certainly doesn't help this forgotten truth.

"The Bachelorette" is going to go on. The season will be cast, filmed and displayed for all of its high-numbered viewers, including myself.

I challenge you to step away from the backlashing, body shaming and name calling between the two women and to start standing up to the idea that we are worthless without a ring on our finger.

Don't divide to root for one woman by beating down the other. Isn't that what we're fighting against to begin with?

You are not a slut, a bitch, a gold digger or a prude. You are a human. Women's rights are human rights.

Watch all the TV you want, just have the right conversations about it.

It's Women's History Month; don't stomp on that by tearing down other women, whether they are on reality television or not. Break the cycle and empower others to do the same.