The Bachelorette Has a Toxic Masculinity Problem

Chad and Alex, The Bachelorette | Photo Credits: Rick Rowell, ABC

On The Bachelorette, roughly two dozen men compete for the right to propose to one woman. In order to prove that they're marriage material, the men have to be charming, confident and show how they would be able to provide for their future wife. But the men who are getting the most camera time this season don't do that. These guys -- Chad, Alex and Evan -- are more concerned with demonstrating that they're the alpha male of the house. And that's a problem.

Look: The Bachelorette and its brother have never been progressive in their depictions of gender roles, but the current season of The Bacheloretteis endorsing toxic masculinity to a vexing degree.

If confidence, bravery and protectiveness -- character attributes possessed by respectable Bachelorette contenders -- are traits that are culturally thought of as "good" and "masculine," then aggression, recklessness and dominance are toxically masculine.

Toxic masculinity promotes and perpetuates stereotypical, harmful beliefs about how men should act. It writes a script for what a "real man" is, and a "real man" is unemotional, insensitive, hypersexual and violent. It perceives anything stereotypically feminine -- such as having feelings -- as weak and inferior, unfit for a "real man" to engage with unless he's subjugating it. Thus toxic masculinity is misogynistic and homophobic. It's also physically dangerous, because it compels men to solve problems through violence.

Chad, this season of The Bachelorette's villain, embodies toxic masculinity to the point it verges on self-parody. He says offensive things and then belittles others for being sensitive when they get offended. He thinks of himself as superior to all the other men, especially physically weaker, emotionally softer men like Evan (an erectile dysfunction specialist), and attempts to resolve all conflict with violence.

Chad's propensity for violence reached its peak so far on the show when he tore Evan's shirt and threatened to kill him, after Evan embarrassed Chad; but it's infected every conversation and interaction Chad's had on the show. From threatening to find and beat up frontrunner Jordan Rodgers after the show is over, to saying he wished he could hurt his nemesis Alex, after Alex badmouthed him to JoJo (this year's Bachelorette), to the production increasing security in the house, Chad's menacing presence has made everyone else on the show question their safety. He's taken the show hostage at d--- point.

Chad has even said that JoJo wants a man like him, which hits the toxic masculinity jackpot: a man professing to know what a woman wants better than she herself knows, based on his own opinion... Not anything she's actually told him. He positions himself as a proverbial "real man," while in his opinion the other men are children, or girls, or whatever.

Don't get us wrong, The Bachelorette presents Chad as unequivocally bad... Even as the producers know the audience will revel in his bad behavior, and hang on his every ridiculous word.

But there are other men of low moral character this season who aren't so transparent. Chad's main antagonist, Alex, is also toxic, because he's fueled by aggression and the compulsion to dominate; and yet Alex is repeatedly referred to as a "stand-up guy" by his peers.

Alex, like Chad, is a Marine (Chad was discharged, and Alex is still active). Alex doesn't think Chad's boorish behavior befits a serviceman, so he's is on a single-minded campaign to destroy Chad. But in Alex's attempts to get justice/punish Chad for his inappropriate behavior, Alex acts even more aggressively than Chad. Chad may call him a "p---y," but Alex calls him a "piece of sh--" first. He's just as domineering as Chad, but he couches it as being the peacemaker who stands up for what's right, a role no one appointed him to.

Toxic masculinity is more complicated than just being applied to immediately recognizable alpha-male aggressors, though. Whiny Evan is equally problematic, even though he's more likely to deal with conflict through dialogue than violence. He could use his verbal skills for diplomacy, but instead he tries to mix it up with the meatheads.

When he publicly embarrassed Chad by implying Chad takes steroids, during a group date in Episode 3, Evan demonstrated that he's willing to escalate conflicts he wasn't even previously involved in. In the aftermath, he showed he's unwilling to take responsibility for his actions when he starts things he can't finish. Evan pretends like his blatantly disrespectful comments were all in good fun and Chad is crazy to take them otherwise. Evan acts like the victim of bullying, but relishes his opportunity to be a bully himself. It's a vicious cycle of abuse.

The common denominator between these three is that they have rigid ideas about how men should act, and will do what they can to force others to conform to those ideas.

Except, and this is the key point: their ideas are bad.

None of these guys are presented exactly heroically by The Bachelorette, but they're not discouraged, either. Chad's been eliminated from The Bachelorette, but he's going to be on . Alex and Evan are still in competition on The Bachelorette as of this writing.

And this is to say nothing of The Bachelorette's inclusion of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on last week's episode. Roethlisberger has twice been accused of sexual assault.

All of this adds up to the franchise not-so-tacitly endorsing terrible male behavior, from the innocuous (encouraging rudeness), to silent agreement (welcoming in someone repeatedly accused of assault), to the actually harmful (allowing a potentially violent person to remain in the house).

You might say, "so what? These men are all cretins and no sensible person would think their behavior means anything." Well, I say that the endorsement of behavior like this, the fact that we find behavior like this entertaining, the fact that these men are given TV airtime, all contributes to perpetuating the existence of toxic masculinity. It teaches men that behavior like this is rewarded. Maybe not by getting the girl in the end, but with fame and money and power.

And if you think that it has no real-world significance, may I remind you of the striking similarities between Chad and a certain aggressive and offensive Presidential candidate?

Unfortunately, the toxic masculinity problem would be a difficult one for The Bachelorette to solve, should it decide it wants to do so. Since the most entertaining parts of The Bachelorette are fueled by interpersonal drama, the show needs strong personalities who will create conflict in order for it to be interesting.

That might mean casting more men like Evan, who will create conflict that doesn't have the risk of escalating into violence and who aren't as antisocial as Chad. The beefcake quotient might suffer, but the show would become wittier; albeit without solving the essentially problem.

At the very least, The Bachelorette needs to stop casting men like Chad. Anyone who says the person they admire most is, "myself in ten years, alright alright alright" should not make it past the first audition. The Chads of the world don't need any more attention, let alone the reaffirming reward of national exposure. And it would be a huge step in stopping the poisonous spread of toxic masculinity... At least on TV.

This article originally appears on TV Guide.com.

Comments (19)
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Jun 21, 2016
I'd say it more has a toxic shit TV show problem.
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Jun 21, 2016
Being a man isn't toxic - that is just misogynist propaganda. You shouldn't feel ashamed for being born as the unfavored gender.
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Jun 21, 2016
And not a single word of the article was understood.
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Jun 21, 2016
Correction: Not a single word of the article was read.
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Jun 21, 2016
How embarrassing! Have some self respect for yourself and stop putting yourself on display, as someone with the brain capacity smaller than a rain drop. My point is, know what you are talking about, before you ridicule yourself.
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Jun 21, 2016
Chris Hansen does not pick ALL the bachelors that show up. The woman has some say and it really does appear she is attracted to the bad boys. Not the first nor the last time a woman "followed her heart and not her head".
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Jun 21, 2016
Is this leeding to more rape? Can you prove that the rape statistic has gone up because of this show?
No?! Then stfu and stop trying to police things that do not need policing.

or is this like a power trip for the writer? Gets to feel like its on a high horse talking to the plebs about morality or something?
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Jun 21, 2016
The leftist press trying to feminize men VS viewers who want tv to simply be entertaining / relaxing.
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Jun 21, 2016
Why don't you go and cry wank to Trump instead?
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Jun 21, 2016
Donald Duck Trump (& Chris Christie) would be very entertaining as tv talk and/or entertainment show hosts. I don't support his political candidacy. I also don't "cry wank" (a Brit puff term I had to look up). Since Senator Ted Cruz suspended his campaign, I now urge support for the Green Party candidate Jill Stein (like Bernie, honest which Hillary & Trump aren't, & a staunch defender of the environment, social security, health care as a human right, & major cuts to the military industrial complex; of course like Bernie she has her share of wacko views too). Jill Stein 2016 Green Party
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Jun 20, 2016
Thank you for also calling out Alex and Evan who are not saints in their interactions with Chad! Of course, Chad's behaviour is disgusting but those two need to get a reality check: they are not the heroes in this story!
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Jun 20, 2016
Whatever happened to simply getting down on one knee and proposing, rather than just competing for the affections of a woman on TV? That's the American way!
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Jun 20, 2016
Holy shit. I opened this article thinking I'd be reading a quick blurb regarding the bachelorette, and instead I see a (what felt like) 45,000 word think-piece about toxic masculinity. Yeaaaaaaaa, no thanks.

Also, telling people not to glorify a certain type of behavior while also acknowledging the fact that that type of behavior is rewarded on shows like this (in the form of more screen-time and "fame") because that's what people want to see/showrunners give us because it gets them ratings, is basically asking the human race to be better than it really is. An impossible task, because, in the end, we're all just a bunch of shit-heels.

Thanks though, tvguide dude.

p.s. I don't think you used "toxic masculinity" enough in your article.
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Jun 21, 2016
How on earth can you "teach" some one to be "hypersexual"!?
You either are or you aren't. The cock "has a mind of its own" expression exists for a reason.

Men are "encouraged to be violent". Bullshit. If anything society apreciates more men who CAN be violent but chose to restrain it unless absolutely necesary such as defending your home or your loved one etc.

Men are encouraged to not have feelings.
Oh so he is saying we are like vulcans now. Men never know how to love or they never get happy or angry. You just need to have frowny face.

This author is absolutely clueless and has no basis in reality. He is just using philosophy that is "his opinion". And tries to use it and justify getting people angry at a show that he does not like.

Well as anything in a capitalist society if you don't like it, turn it off and switch the channel. There are other things for you to enjoy
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Jun 20, 2016
I mean, is it impossible? Okay, making the whole human race not the literal worst definitely isn't realistic, but not everyone is awful. Declaring the whole human race is like that is just a lazy excuse/justification so we can be awful ourselves. It really doesn't take much effort not to be a bad person. You don't have to necessarily be a saint or anything, but at least don't go around proclaiming you're going to murder someone.

And I know a lot of people like to argue, "it's just a tv show" but...come on. The majority of people are influenced in some way by the media, that's why an unfathomable amount of money is thrown into it, and that's why sites like this exist in the first place. It might not control us, but it does shape us. It seems even worse with a reality tv show since it's supposed to be, well, real. If people see real people acting like that, they'll think it's okay too.

It isn't absurd to ask them not to glorify a certain type of behavior and then acknowledge that is rewarded. I don't even know why you brought that up at all, since being glorified is the reward, they aren't two separate things. It's exactly the problem, in fact, that reality shows like this are about clever editing and subtle manipulation to produce desired events, tarnishing that pesky reality aspect. But a lot of viewers don't see that, so they do think it's real.
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Jun 21, 2016
Yes, people including children are "influenced in some way" by media. Real men competing for a woman are a better influence than ....
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Jun 20, 2016

This could be the slogan of every reality show on the planet. Everything is turned into a competition. And a little rivalry can be a good thing but some people make everything too personal. In sports for instance there are certain rules in place to stop things from getting out of hand and try to make things as fair as possible.
In dating shows there are no such rules and this is what you get...

You know the story about the scorpion and the frog?

A scorpion asks a frog to carry it across a river. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung, but the scorpion argues that if it did so, they would both drown. Considering this, the frog agrees, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When the frog asks the scorpion why, the scorpion replies: It's in my nature.

This is to illustrate that fundamentally vicious natures cannot change. Some people are just self-righteous assholes. Bad behavior is somehow still encouraged in modern society and especially on shows like this. Controversy will boost the ratings. It's all about the money, baby. I never watch reality shows because of this kind of behavior. It brings the worst out of people.


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Jun 20, 2016
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