Is This Year’s “Bachelor” Helping Us Think Beyond The Stereotypes?

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I’ve been sucked into The Bachelor again. No excuse really, other than it’s the perfect wind-down tv that gives me an added connection to NC and something to comment about on Twitter.

While this season has some disconcerting constancies about it – that include Osher’s perfect hair, the gaudiness of the mansion and it’s general “whiteness” – it is much more interesting than the preceding few because the producers have given us a “Bachie” with personality this time.

I’ll admit that it’s refreshing to meet a man who doesn’t rely on his Ken doll looks and sculpted body to attract women; a man who is actually prepared to make an effort to talk to the women and even crack the odd self-deprecating joke; a man whose vocabulary extends beyond ‘I like to go to the gym’ – even when it is quite evident that he does like the gym…praise be.

For those of you that have no intention of watching it, this year’s “Bachelor” is thirty-year-old Nick Cummins, an ex-Wallaby star – which I understand is an Australian rugby union player – also known as The Honey Badger, and for his career modeling boxer shorts. Don’t worry, I fact-checked this on your behalf.

Seemingly, from a salt-of-the-earth and genuine Aussie family that doesn’t mince its words and just wants their boy to be happy, Nick is the boy next door – although you do require a dictionary to translate his ockerisms.

To be honest, it’s hard not to like him. He appears to be comfortable in his own skin and exudes a level of confidence in the company of women that never comes close to arrogance. And I want to believe that in spite of his rumored playboy antics on the Northern Beaches, he is ready to settle down. I’m not as sure how well he’d fare as a Trivia Pursuit partner – although, who am I to judge? – but for a rugger bugger, he seems quite tuned into his female side and genuinely interested in finding his soul mate.

Of course, the success of this show relies on the recording of fly-on-the-wall bitching sessions in the house, during which the women are witch-hunted to hoist up the ratings.  And this year’s bunch of beauties don’t disappoint. As each week passes, their resemblance to an undersexed pack of rabid dogs as each of them fights for a piece of Nick’s flesh (or one of his off-the-cuff one-liners – that none of them really get), is becoming more and more uncanny.

I don’t like to knock my own gender, but there are a handful of “Princesses” in the house that are about as suited to Nick as Dutton is to immigration, and who have been carefully selected to keep the entertainment factor of the show pumping. Their role is to rouse the pack to a state of near blood-curdling cannibalism, because the camera loves nothing more than a group of fighting, bitchy women, to the point that sometimes I honestly fear for Nick’s life.

Funny really, because in The Bachelorette series, the men are always portrayed as mild-mannered besties, who would give up their lives for their best bro over the supposed object of their affection; whose main ambition in the competition (it appears) is a prolonged male bonding session at the expense of Ten.

And perhaps there’s an element of truth in that and how differently competition plays out between the genders. Women are (generally) better communicators than men and if you’re brave enough to expose yourself on the dating “Hunger Games”, you’re unlikely to be phased by a few minor confrontations about how much time you spend with your prey.

Men, on the other hand, are often blind to what’s in front of them until it slaps them in the face.  Evolution, toxic masculinity and saving the world have kept them far too busy to develop that much emotional dexterity, and for many of them, a comment such as ‘We need to talk’ can be a peril worse than canal root surgery –  obviously, I’m stereotyping here and that may just be MY husband.

So while it’s refreshing to have a bloke who doesn’t take himself too seriously, let’s not knock these girls – whatever their real reasons for going on the show. Give them their five minutes of fame. Who knows how hard they’ve had to work to look that good in a cocktail dress. After all, men are consistently patted on the back for their ambition, while we’re always accused of not being forthright enough – a no-win situation, in my view. Let’s not shame our gender’s proclivity to dissect, analyze and strategize, but rather embrace their humor and commend them for getting up there to have a go.

Perving On Surfers

Spring is finally in the air and those nubile, Ripcurled surfers, with their washboard stomachs and tantalizing wetsuits, (that leave as much to the imagination as the one-pieces sprayed on to the Olympic rowers), have thankfully returned to our street en route to the beach. It makes every extra dollar of that premium we pay for housing close to the beach, so worthwhile.

And if I’m honest, it takes the discipline of a nun not to perv on them, even though my son thinks it’s highly immoral for me to do so, or at least, to do so in what he considers to be a salacious way.

Which is an accusation I take offence to. Because what I’m actually guilty of, is ‘appreciating’ the beauty of grown men in their twenties and thirties, not young boys; which by my definition makes me a cougar, rather than a pervert.

For those not ‘in-the-know’, ‘perving’ in Australia is defined as ‘looking lustfully at the opposite sex’. Gawping. My interpretation is more akin to a mature appreciation of male aesthetics. Especially since ‘lust’ has long since been filed away in the ‘things I did when I was young’ box of experiences, along with late nights and drinking more than three units of alcohol.

Unfortunately, rationalizing my behavior to my fifteen year old son has been harder than persuading him that low-slung trousers look ridiculous. And even I can see, that in the under-developed mind of a teenage boy, my argument does sound worryingly like a feeble excuse for lechery, almost as lame as my analogy of the male physique to a timeless piece of art.

What I can’t decide is whether his TITF reaction is because of my age or because I’m a woman. After all, we haven’t forced him to justify his behavior when he’s been caught red-handed ogling older scantily-clad women on the family computer. I think his attitude smacks of double standards.

So annoyingly, sexist comments regarding male physicality have therefore become taboo in our house. And sadly, his Dickensian awkward attitude towards anything sexual regarding me, his mother, (he has obviously also chosen to believe that he is the product of an immaculate conception), only brings out the worst in my delinquent side, and the more he doth protest, the more lewd I become.

Although luckily I do have the familial support of his sister on my side, who at eighteen, is apparently allowed to verbalize her fascination with ‘fit’ young men without coming across as sordid. The old man’s opinion is typically and very firmly ensconced on a fence in Switzerland somewhere; he is simply relieved that my sexual focus is aimed anywhere other than on him.

So my daughter and I have had to take our new bonding activity underground, due to the perving embargo in our own home. And so, closeted away, in the sanctity of ‘the tip’ she calls a bedroom, we engross ourselves in our new sport, where, with the meticulousness of Olympic judges, we scrutinise every fine detail of male physical perfection.

We question the worthiness of pecs over abs, if tattoos are still sexy, is exfoliation  necessary, whether men can you get away with long hair in their twenties, beards, and how short is too short? All brain-taxing dilemmas.

Is that so wrong? After all, it’s been common practice for men since the days in the cave.

‘Innocent’ perving, or ‘appreciation’ for want of a better word, is a fundamental trait of human nature, an evolutionary act with its roots in the most primal animal mating rituals. Think of birds showing their flamboyant plumage and the flaming red booty of baboons. Shouldn’t  women be free to ‘appreciate’ beauty too, without being condemned as lascivious?

I’m not sure if my son is being ageist or sexist in his attitude to women perving, but either way, I probably need to give him a lesson in equality and double standards.

Male Body photo courtesy of Weipim at www.flickr.com

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