The Bachelorette: An Experiment in Modern Masculinity

When I return from my Monday softball game each week, my wife is usually engrossed in either ABC’s The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. We are currently in the midst of The Bachelorette at this point, and I have to say, it’s been pretty interesting. I would never tune in to either of these shows on my own, but I get sucked into the drama like a good Carl’s Jr. commercial.

What has struck me the past few weeks has been the considerable differences in the apparent “maturity” and emotional depth of the various men who are playing suitor to the start of the show, Kaitlyn (I apologize if I’ve spelled her name incorrectly. Minor details…). Some enjoy passing the time with the fart jokes and sexual banter that best typify “locker room talk.” Others seem more reserved in their language and appear to show, in the words of the old Sears ads, their “softer side.” They talk consistently about the development of their strong feelings for Kaitlyn and their emotional reactions to the other suitors on the show.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with either approach (stereotypical jock talk and affective/relational vulnerability), the thing that stands out each week is the result. All of the guys would be considered by a majority of women to be at least a 5/10 in terms of attractiveness and generally being a “catch.” It’s kind of a given that if you’re on this kind of show that you’re at least a stocking stuffer, if not the one true “God’s gift to women.” Looks are not the issue. Most of these guys have abs that could be taken to the river to scrub clothes on. The thing that seems to separate the guys in the eyes of the Bachelorette is their ability to live in both worlds.

Kaitlyn specifically states in almost every episode that she thinks ___(insert any guy from the show)___ is really hot, and she’s just waiting for him to open up and be vulnerable. Kaitlyn wants a guy that is competitive but not self-centered. A guy who has the ability to win a competition, but not the compulsive, angry, aggressive need to. A key lesson here for guys looking to get the girl is that being an attractive and skilled physical specimen is often enough to get you in the door. It may even get you in her bed, if that’s your goal. But if you’re looking for anything more than that, you’re probably going to need to learn to speak what sometimes feels like a foreign language. As confusing as it may seem to the guys,

One guy in last night’s episode seemed incredulous that Kaitlyn was not “impressed” by him being “a former model who has traveled the world a couple times.” He actually said on the show that his ex-girlfriend was twice as hot as Kaitlyn. I laughed out loud at this guy. Why does he think his ex is his ex? He clearly doesn’t get the importance of embracing both the traditionally masculine and the traditionally feminine. In an increasingly egalitarian world, women are looking for more than washboard abs, a cool haircut, a slim-fit tie and a paycheck. Sure, those things may be important at getting your foot in the door on a first date, but to close the deal on anything longer term, consider unflexing your muscles and working out your communication skills.

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