Bachelorella Recap Week 8: Sex, love, and the issue of choice

Whitney is THIRSTY. Everyone is so ready to bone.
Whitney is THIRSTY. Everyone is so ready to bone.

This week was the fantasy suite episode of The Bachelor. It was pretty boring. This was the most boring episode we’ve had in a while.

For the uninformed, here’s the deal with the fantasy suite: Chris and his lady have the option to stay in a hotel room ~without any cameras~ for an entire night. Yes, this is a sex thing. There’s usually an understanding that the bachelor or bachelorette will bang their three remaining suitors, three nights in a row, and it’s admittedly gross and sounds exhausting. But this is also a holy fuck these people have never been alone together thing. Fantasy suites are the only opportunity they have to be behind closed doors without producers, cameramen, and us live-tweeting their interactions before a marriage proposal. It’s a big deal.

In the past the fantasy suite episode sees some serious shit go down because without the cameras around, people get real. In Juan Pablo’s season, future Bachelorette Andi basically stormed off the show because of how he behaved alone (a lot of talking about himself, name dropping, and probably dubious sexual behavior). It’s pretty common for people to have serious conversations now that they have an extended period of time to actually talk with their partner. This week, Chris and Becca walked out feeling super conflicted about whether or not they have an actual future together, and Chris reportedly asked her if their feelings were just a result of being on a television show (good question, Chris!).

See it's awkward because she's a virgin.
See it’s awkward because she’s a virgin.

So yeah, that’s what all the fuss is about. But the only real drama this week—other than Chris eliminating Kaitlyn, for shame—was the same old, same old about Becca being a virgin. I have to give the girl credit, she is not milking this like Ashley I. was. Becca made her decision to wait until marriage for religious reasons, and we only saw her talk about it this episode after an entire season of backbiting and bit-swapping. It was believable, genuine, and hard to make fun of.

Hard, but not impossible. As a slut I’m always going to giggle when someone talks about arousal as “experiencing temptations.” But yeah, I respect it. Chris also respected it, and his concerns about her low level of experience have more to do with her lack of any prior relationships than her virginity. He’s looking for a wife, yo.

Also notable is the fact that Chris is continuing to be his genuine rebel self and told all three women he’s falling in love with them. This is a HUGE BACHELOR NO NO, and for good reason: it gave all the women a false sense of security, and Kaitlyn looked truly blindsided when he said goodbye to her after the rose ceremony. Traditionally bachelors and bachelorettes have had to say nothing (or just an awkward thank you) when their suitors confess their lovin’ feelings, and it makes it all the more powerful when they finally are allowed to share how they feel during the finale. I sobbed like a baby when Sean told Catherine he loved her, the two of them clutching each other like terrified little ducklings. It’s a weird rule out of context, but I think it’s a good one.

Chris is a feelings slut.
Chris is a feelings slut.

I also love the fact that love and sex are not always tied together on this program. Usually suitors tell the bachelor or bachelorette that they love him or her during hometowns or just before entering the fantasy suite, but it isn’t a reciprocal conversation. There are jokes about “making love,” but that’s not really what they’re doing (although as I’ve written about previously, Nick’s comments during Andi’s season about how could you have made love to me if you didn’t love me or whatever were particularly weird). I loved it this episode when Chris talked about “having the intimacy we haven’t been allowed,” even though it was such a weird euphemism. Sex on this show is intimate, but it’s also a natural progression of a relationship—especially when leading to marriage.

The last moment worth mentioning was Chris and Whitney’s conversation about her potentially moving to Iowa if they were to get married. For a refresher, Whitney is the fertility nurse from Chicago with a very high-pitched but endearing baby voice and a hell of a lot of class. I’m a Whitney fan. Chris addresses his concerns that her career is amazing and it would be a major sacrifice on her part to give it up to move to Arlington. I’ve seen Whitney get some second wave feminist shit for how she treated his question, but this conversation was rad for a lot of reasons.

First, Chris validates her career hardcore. He admits his town is pretty much the worst, and that she has worked very hard to get where she is. He has such respect for who she is and what she does and it’s very refreshing, considering the whole “I’m here to find my farmer’s wife and take her back to Arlington” theme of the season. He really does want what is best for these women, and he knows he’s offering a mediocre existence not to be romanticized. “Sacrifice” is exactly the word for it.

But, second, Whitney makes it clear that this is her call and not his. From the beginning she has made it clear that she has put a lot of thought into this, even before she got on the program. While the other women waffled and bitched, Whit has been confident and level-headed about a future in Iowa. When you fall in love, you make sacrifices as a couple to make it work. This is a sacrifice she wants to make, and Chris will presumably make sacrifices as well. Whitney addresses the Arlington situation with maturity, grace, and clarity. Snaps for Whitney.

And third, while the “feminism is about choice” model is flawed and limited, choice is still a thing. Yes, being a wife and mother is an ideal of womanhood that many women do not fit and have no interest in fitting. Yes, being a badass nurse is respectable and awesome and great. Giving up my career and moving to the middle of nowhere to be a stay-at-home mom is not my fantasy. But Whitney knows what she wants, and this isn’t some false consciousness cultural brainwashing. She loves her career but knows herself well enough to know she wants a family more. And she gets to decide that. She has that choice. The feminist struggle is to make sure everyone regardless of race, class, gender, orientation, etc. has choices, and good choices. All of the choices.

Arguably I’d love it if Whitney didn’t have a sad multiple choice prompt of a) give up your career and move to a ghost town or b) keep your career and be aloooone, but still. She’s really excited about her decision and she has thought it through, and that should be good enough for all of us.

In conclusion, fuck who you want and fuck who you like, probably don’t tell three different women you are falling in love with them, and choose your choice. CHOOSE YOUR CHOICE.

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Ella Dawson is a sex and culture critic and a digital strategist. She drinks too much Diet Coke.

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