Welcome to the world of Yes Means Yes!
I’m honored to be writing a weekly column for Amplify starting today. Just like I did in my anthology Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, I’ll be using this space to connect the dots between the diseased attitudes we have toward female sexuality, and the ways rape is allowed to function and flourish. The title is inspired by the idea that "no means no" is not enough – until women are equally free to say "no" and "yes" to sexual expression, we’re still being treated like sexual objects instead of whole human beings. And that makes it a lot easier to rape us.
Case in point: have y’all been watching More To Love, the new "plus-size" version of The Bachelor? (It’s OK if you have – we all have guilty pleasures. Heck, I watch American Idol and Gossip Girl. But more on that in another column.) A lot has been written about whether it’s helping or hurting the fat acceptance movement, and that’s an important conversation to have. But what’s making me see red is the toxic combination of the women on the show believing that the shape of their bodies make them unworthy of love or sex, and the way these very same women are made to compete for the affection of one guy on national TV.
We know very little about Luke, the guy in question, except that he favors double entendres about "juicy meat" and calls women’s bodies "bangin’". Oh, and there’s one other thing – he is attracted to "larger" women. And that’s enough to make nearly every woman on the show fall instantly in love.
What makes this dynamic more dangerous than the normal Bachelor dysfunction is the level of desperation the women express. In interview after interview, we hear from women who’ve never been on a date before, who’ve been cheated on and verbally abused by the dates they did have, and who clearly believe that, because of their size, this guy being paid by Fox to date them all simultaneously is their only shot at love. Say what you will about what I’m now calling The Skinny Bachelor, but the women on that show certainly know that if they don’t wind up marrying the guy on offer by the show, they will probably date again.
The truth is that there are plenty of people in the world who are attracted to sexual partners who are fat, or, more generally, whose bodies don’t fit the young-white-skinny-busty-ablebodied ideal that dominates our pop culture. But the media does such a good job of shoving that ideal down our throats that these women are ready to do anything – anything – to win the affections of this exceptionally-average-seeming dude, just because he doesn’t find their bodies gross. And if you don’t already know what a perfect recipe that is for sexual coercion or date rape, check out this clip from the premiere, where Luke tells a girl that she has to kiss him if she wants to make the first cut:
You can bet I’ll be watching to see how bad it gets – and keeping you posted right here. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on More To Love – better or worse than your average reality show? And are there topics you want me to address in future columns? Have your say in the comments…