Bachelorella: How The Bachelorette Got Bystander Intervention Right

The men of The Bachelorette dealt with sexual harasser Ryan swiftly, without excuses. Screencap by @bricesander.
The men of The Bachelorette dealt with sexual harasser Ryan swiftly, without excuses. Screencap by @bricesander.

In the midst of what was arguably the most sexist season premiere of The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise, a magical thing happened. There was a beautiful lesson in sexual harassment and bystander intervention, and I felt for a fleeting few minutes like the world was a better place than it was.

Let me rewind. Quirky, edgy Kaitlyn and beautiful, arguably shallow Britt arrived to woo 25 men into choosing them to be the next Bachelorette. The Internet waited with bated breath to see how sexist this sexist twist on a normally female-driven show would be. The Bachelorette did not disappoint—Britt was catty and smug, Kaitlyn was nervous and felt “sick to her stomach” about the men voting on who to keep around. The men were in turns pretentious, nauseating and hunky as they decided which woman to choose. They were all plied with alcohol.

Copious amounts of alcohol.

Ryan, a 28-year-old “junkyard specialist” from Missouri, got rip-roaringly drunk early in the evening. He yelled at other men as they made their entrances, was gross about the women behind their backs, and stripped down to his briefs to swim in the pool with a flute of champagne. Ryan was the ultimate drunk bro, and the other dudes shook their heads and dismissed him for getting “white boy wasted.” They bristled at his disrespectful behavior toward them, and one bold soul pulled him aside to demand why he made fun of his grand entrance in a “carpool.” I’m not even going to get into that.

But when Ryan interacted with the women, a spectacular thing happened. The other men stepped up and stepped in.

Exhibit A: Ryan and Britt grabbed a love-seat outside to have some one-on-one time, as the women are obligated to do with each of the dudes to justify why they should be the next Bachelorette. Not one but two men broke into their conversation to give Britt an out. Jonathan commented on Britt’s wide “rescue me” eyes and successfully swept her away after another man failed. The men recognized a woman stuck in an uncomfortable situation and receiving unwanted attention, and they gave her the exit she needed to escape the interaction. WELL DONE, GENTS.

Exhibit B: Kaitlyn was chatting with some guy when Ryan stumbled up, commended her on her hot appearance, and then swatted her ass. Kaitlyn was horrified and did not stand for it, and one of the other men pulled her away before Ryan could be even more of an abusive asshole. GREAT JOB, RANDOM DUDE.

Once the ladies were safely removed from Ryan’s noxious presence, the other men called him out on his bullshit. When he referred to Kaitlyn and Britt (supposedly jokingly) as “hoes,” pretentious Toby told him that was no way to speak about women. KUDOS, PRETENTIOUS TOBY.

Another man, one of the generic Disney Prince brunets, asked Ryan why he was taking his shirt off.

“Why am I not raping you right now?” Drunk Ryan slurred in response.

“Why is ‘rape’ your go-to word?” the Disney Prince fired back. THREE CHEERS FOR DISNEY PRINCE.

And then… judgement day. Chris Harrison gave Ryan the official boot, saying he was clearly there for the wrong reasons. Drunk Bro Ryan left without protest, scolded into mortified silence by another man. Chris Harrison is, of course, the ultimate host/male privilege machine. When Chris Harrison votes you off, your life is over.

Forget, for a moment, that the Kaitlyn vs. Britt season premiere set up the women to compete for male attention. That, my friends, is how you fight rape culture as men. That is how you keep women safe. You value their comfort and security above your bullshit bro camaraderie. You don’t accept excuses. You don’t say, “Oh he was just drinking, he probably didn’t mean it.” You don’t dismiss foul language and degrading conversation as a joke, or accuse women of overreacting if they are offended. You do not give second chances. You notice red flag behavior and you BOOT THEM OFF THE TELEVISION SHOW.

Thank you, The Bachelorette. Just thank you. I wish more male-dominated institutions were like you. If, you know, male-dominated institutions have to exist at all.

You can find me on Twitter each week, live-tweeting The Bachelorette (if I’m not, you know, doing something else):

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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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