Why shows like the Bachelorette (yes, my occasional guilty pleasure) take women back 100 years…

I have to admit it: at the end of the day, after waking up at 5 and working all day, I do like to flop onto the couch with one or both of the dogs and watch stupid TV. The Voice, So You Think You Can Dance, even American Idol – bring it on…. Gordon Ramsey yelling obscenities at both competent and incompetent chefs – yeah, baby, I’m in. And yes, I do (occasionally, and only occasionally) watch the Bachelor or it’s female off-shoot, the Bachelorette. Yes, I know it’s staged. Yes, I know this is as far from ‘reality’ as is humanly possible. But yet…

Doofus #1, Doofus #2, and Doofus #3

Part of me wants to believe in happily ever after, in romance, in unexpected possibilities…. But the other, larger, saner elements of my personality scream out “you have GOT to be kidding me!!” As my son would say “Actually?? Really??”

And then, if you look at the bigger picture, you realize just how demeaning this whole Bachelor/Bachelorette show really is, for women in particular. Think of it this way: in 1900 ‘nice’ women were not permitted out alone in public. Their clothes covered their bodies, more or less, from head to toe. Whether they were high born or from the poorer classes, women were subservient to men in every conceivable way: financially, socially, politically, and intellectually.

Poster Ladies

Can you imagine any of these women fathoming the concept of something as ridiculous and base as the Bachelorette? These women, who had even the most innocuous encounters scripted by civil codes and social class, would have been aghast at the brazenness of the women who populate the Bachelorette. (How brazen? This brazen.)

If a Belle Epoque woman were to think of freeing herself of some of her constraints, her goals would have been more modest: perhaps she would have chosen to ride a bicycle (one of the first vehicles that truly liberated women) or a horse, unaccompanied, in the countryside.

Independent Ladies

THIS is not what she would have had in mind

TV shotsAnd even if I do (occasionally!!) watch the Bachelorette, I have to say that if given the choice between the brazenness of these modern femme fatales or their more restrained counterparts of the last century… the choice would be a tough one. Don’t get me wrong: I am a thoroughly modern woman and I would not have been very good at the whole social proprieties thing, but on the other hand, when it comes to romance, I’m still a little old fashioned. At least in public 🙂

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