One of the most feminist shows on television right now stars a woman who currently has six boyfriends. The show? The Bachelorette. It airs Monday nights on ABC and I, a staunch feminist, am addicted.
To understand why this show is so empowering, we must briefly look at the history of the plights of women. For centuries women’s sexuality was viewed in a negative light. Just two centuries ago, a woman could be killed or shunned for being affectionate with a man before marriage.
Most women had little to no choice in who they married and didn’t have control over their bodies. Their destiny was not their own to create. The men in their lives created it for them. In other countries this is still very much true today. Women are viewed as property and expressing sexuality is viewed as shameful.
Essentially, the Bachelorette takes all the ugly history of women’s unempowerment and laughs in its face.
This season, Jojo is the bachelorette. In episode 3, Jojo takes the contestants on a group date to a show about sex. The contestants then have to get up onstage and one by one tell an embarrassing sex story. Jojo looks straight into the camera and says, “I think that it’s really important to be able to talk about sex in a relationship. I am a physical person and I think that intimacy is important.”
The collective jaw of America hit the floor. This is franchise that has always ignored sexuality in previous seasons, and Jojo had just boldly acknowledged her sexuality on national television. This proved that we have come a long way since Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (who were married at the time) were shown sleeping in different beds in I Love Lucy.
The Bachelorette shows a woman who is taking control of her life. She sends men home one by one, acknowledging the fact that even though they are “good guys” she doesn’t want to settle. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it.
Jojo kisses several men each episode, but she is still respected by every man in the house. She is not labeled as a slut and her honor or quality is not diminished. The Bachelorette shows Jojo as a multi-faceted woman. She isn’t a sex symbol or sexual object, but she also isn’t afraid of showing her sexuality either. Men have never been defined solely by their sexuality, and Jojo is showing that women don’t have to be either.
Jillian James is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. She can be reached at jillianj@CentralFloridaFuture.com.