'The Bachelorette' Still Has a Major Problem With Female Sexuality

Source: ABC
Source: ABC

Whether ABC wants to admit it or not, The Bachelor franchise is essentially a televised, highly lubricated group orgy. With the heavy sexual innuendo, steamy make out sessions and hard, oiled-up bodies popping up in nearly every shot, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette would basically be advertisements for group sex, were it not for the intervention of network TV censors. 

Yet for all the show's coded discussion of sexuality, it takes a fairly regressive approach to women having sex — an attitude that was on stark display on The Bachelorette last night, when Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher took the guys on a group date at a sex-themed comedy show. 

The episode featured a wide range of lurid anecdotes, from one bachelor's account of using his tongue to spell out the alphabet while performing cunnilingus, to another's tale of inexplicably cutting off a lock of a woman's hair. Yet one of the most telling aspects of the group date was the bachelors' reaction to the sex-themed group date in itself, which came as a total surprise to them when they showed up to the theater. 

When the show's female host showed up onstage and started pretending to have an orgasm, their reactions ranged from confused to horrified: 

Source: ABC
Source: ABC

While it's understandable that the men would be nervous about sharing their personal sexual histories onstage, some of their concerns appeared to have less to do with talking about their own sexual past and more to do with hearing the (primarily female) speakers discuss their own. One of JoJo's suitors, Vinny, dismissed the host's opening monologue about her sexual awakening as "some crazy sex story." 

"She was talking about orgasms, about being abroad, about how to give blow jobs," he said in a confessional. "Stuff that you wouldn't really expect to hear on your first date." 

Chad, in particular, resented the fact that he would have to hear JoJo talk about her sex life, or be asked to publicly discuss his. "I don't care about her sexual past. I don't want to talk about hers or mine ... sex is something you keep to yourself," he said while backstage.

The way Chad ate deli meat last week would suggest otherwise:

Source: Giphy

The suitors' reluctance to hear a woman openly discuss her sexuality is particularly noteworthy, given that this season, they've apparently had no issue discussing their own. The premiere of The Bachelorette dripped with male braggadocio, with the suitors making dick jokes aplenty and boasting about their own sexual prowess, in typical Bachelor franchise fashion. 

Given the sexually infused environment of the show, one wonders why the suitors would be so uncomfortable sharing sex stories, or hearing the stories of the (predominantly female) storytellers onstage. Unfortunately, discomfort with female sexuality seems to be part and parcel with The Bachelor franchise. Just last year, Kaitlyn Bristowe was slut shamed for openly admitting to having sex with a contestant before the fantasy suite dates — even though previous male bachelors have done the same. 

Clearly, the double standard is still alive and well on ABC — but not if JoJo has anything to do with it. JoJo, who has already established herself as among the more sex-positive of the bachelorettes, gave a pretty reasonable (and, frankly, pretty badass) explanation for the sex-themed group date. 

Source: Mic/ABC

"I am a physical person. I think intimacy is really important in a relationship," she added. "I wanna see what these guys are made of." Hopefully, JoJo wasn't disappointed by the stories the contestants shared onstage — but for the viewers at home who may be tired of seeing women paraded around and objectified on TV and then shamed for embracing their sexuality, it was another experience altogether. 

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EJ Dickson

Ej Dickson is Mic's Connections editor. A former lifestyle editor at the Daily Dot, Ej has also written for Salon, Vice, the Awl, the Hairpin and Women's Health Magazine. She does a middling impersonation of R&B star Macy Gray.

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