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Why the Wrestling Group Date on ‘The Bachelor’ Was Completely Inappropriate

It’s easy to think of The Bachelor as this alternative world where politics and current events don’t exist and you measure your life in the glasses of wine you’ve had. As escapist TV, this is sometimes great, but then things like this week’s wrestling group date happen. Even if you’re a WWE fan (and I guess Bekah M. is?), the show’s attempts to seemingly create an empowering GLOW-like atmosphere fell flat in the worst way possible.

I’m all for being a powerful female athlete, but from the beginning, this date was not about showing the women positive, strong role models in sports. After being told that they would compete against each other in the wrestling ring, the ladies met two professional female wrestlers from the actual GLOW organization that began in the 1980s. I hope that these pros were told to play up the intensity for the cameras because they were not very inspirational.

Their tough, often rude talks with Arie’s women felt like one of those America’s Next Top Model challenges when Tyra wants to see how the girls take criticism from industry moguls. This is The Bachelor, where physical fitness and willingness to literally knock another girl out shouldn’t matter. What happened to the old-school group dates where they talked to kids about the birds and the bees or painted an orphanage in Thailand? (Okay, these were both Bachelorette dates. Notice a pattern in how they differ from Bachelor dates?)

The wrestlers’ intensity particularly affected Bibiana, who didn’t take criticism about her name lightly, and Tia, who was in tears after one of the wrestlers began yanking at her hair. Their emotional distress reminded us that, given both this date and last week’s demolition derby, The Bachelor is trying to be too oblivious of the greatest issues the country is currently facing.

Arie’s season feels different than its predecessors because it comes in the middle of the Time’s Up movement and the widespread national focus on sexual abuse and misconduct. Women of various backgrounds and industries have united in the name of #MeToo, and Hollywood has especially been vocal about igniting change in the conversation on gender equality. Last week, Oprah delivered a truly inspirational speech at the Golden Globes about men and women coming together to begin a new era in treatment of each other. The next day, The Bachelor aired its demolition derby date, which seems to have kicked off an unflattering pattern of the women being pitted against each other in unusually violent, occasionally degrading ways.

It’s not like The Bachelor is an ideal watch if you want something that always preaches feminist values. Producers can run and edit this show however they please, and sometimes the women don’t end up in scenarios that make them look the greatest. But when dates are becoming this tone deaf about the United States’ current social climate, it’s definitely concerning. It wasn’t necessarily the idea of wrestling that bothered Bibiana and Tia — it was the wrestlers’ rude, intimidating comments. Such critique made the atmosphere toxic, and these two were right to point out that such extremity between women was unneeded. I’m already hoping for them to teach guys a thing or two about feminism in Paradise this summer!

Kristen Perrone is a Siena College Class of 2018 alumna. She studied English during her time at Siena.