Will You Accept This Rant? February 17

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Hello hello hello to all our returning readers, our ranters, and to Victoria F’s dog, Buxton!


We had a similar reaction to this week’s episode.

As always, here’s a reminder about what we’re up to:

We’re working to examine and call out our culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation.  Check out our weekly Facebook Live video (clink this link!) to hear all our thoughts and let us know what you’re thinking about this week! Don’t forget, you can always follow along with us on Twitter too! (@Safe_PassageDV) As a fun bonus this week, our video is sideways on Facebook and someone accidentally gets hit in the face with a rose!

This week was all about the drama, so let’s not wait one more second!


Who wants drama?  Nobody.  Us.

We’ll start with a quick recap off all the hometown dates in the order shown by production before we dive into the drama:

  • Knoxville, TN: Hannah Ann
    Hannah Ann takes Peter ax-throwing so he can prove that he’s a “tough guy” to Hannah Ann’s father who works in forestry. Cool.  When meeting Dad later on that evening, he seems wholly unimpressed, so this might not have worked out as planned.
  • Des Moines, IA: Kelsey
    Kelsey and Peter foot-stomp some grapes into a signature wine.  She tells him she loves him and they drink the Toe Pinot. That’s really all there is to report.
  • Auburn, AL: Madi
    Madi takes Peter to explore Auburn University and trounces him in a friendly game of HORSE. Charles Barkley tells him to treat Madi right and Madi’s family obsesses over whether she’s told Peter that she’s a virgin.
  • Virginia Beach, CA: Victoria F
    DRAMA. Victoria meets Peter on a beach and almost loses her dog while making out with Peter. They take some old-timey pictures and dance to a live country-music performance that’s just a little too on-the-nose with lyrics like “I don’t want easy; I want crazy.” Before leaving, Peter is caught by an old ex, Merisa, who warns him that Victoria isn’t a good fit for him.  Merisa tells him Victoria has a reputation for ruining relationships, a negative personality, and just generally not the right fit for a guy like him. Peter brings this up to Victoria before meeting her family and all hell breaks loose. Peter heads back to his hotel room rather than sit through what would have been THE MOST AWKWARD FAMILY DINNER EVER.

The episode ended with a rose ceremony.  Peter sent Kelsey back home to Des Moines.  Next week is the fantasy suites and the previews show we’re not done with the drama yet!


We’ll miss you, Kelsey!

Of course, we have to talk about the Victoria F situation and we’ll get to that, but we want to take a minute to address a few other more subtle things that happened this episode.

First, the idea that Peter has to be some kind of “tough guy” to impress Hannah Ann’s dad. We see this time and time again that just as girls are expected to look and behave a certain way to be accepted, guys get forced into their own box too. Tony Porter calls this the “Man Box” (Watch his Ted Talk!) and Jackson Katz calls it the “Tough Guise”. Men are expected to be unemotional, providers, physically intimidating, and even violent.  Men aren’t often told that it is okay to have feelings and to be empathetic and kind. Peter doesn’t strike us as the ax-throwing type and that is completely fine.  Everyone should be free to be who they are, not feel forced to live out a stereotype based on their gender.

The other subtle attitude that popped up was the idea that the highest ideal a woman can strive for is a relationship with a man.  You might be able to guess it from our ranting last week, but this came up in Madi’s family.  We talked last week about purity culture, so I won’t rehash that except to say that staying a virgin until marriage is a CHOICE.  It is a totally great choice to make if it feels empowering or important to you, but it is not an inherently better or safer choice than choosing to have sex with another adult who is enthusiastically consenting.  “Saving yourself for marriage” is totally cool; you do you! But choosing to have sex (or being a victim of sexual assault or abuse) does not make you any less valuable.  You are not broken.  You matter.

Click this link and watch this video right now.  

OKAY.

Getting off our soapbox there and climbing onto another soapbox…

Madi’s dad, Chad, mentions that he and Madi’s mom have been praying for Madi’s husband since Madi was an infant.  Do I think that this makes Chad and his wife bad people?  Do I think they had bad intentions or wanted to hurt their daughter?  Absolutely not.  Do I think this attitude props up our patriarchal system that harms women, even if unintentionally?  Absolutely yes. 

What if Madi realized growing up that she was bisexual or a lesbian?  What if she fell in love with a woman or someone who was nonbinary? Would she feel safe to come out to her family, knowing that they’d been praying for her husband since she’d been born?
OR
What if Madi met a man, fell in love, got married, and then started getting abused?  Would she feel confident and safe to leave that relationship, knowing that her family would always support her?  Or would she worry that she had “failed” in the most important aspect of her life, her relationship?

If you are the praying type, pray for your daughter to be kind.  Pray for your daughter to be brave.  Pray for your daughter to be smart, to be empathetic, to be a leader, to be a world-changing woman.  Pray for her to be so much more than “just” a wife. Make sure your daughters know that the most important thing isn’t if or who they marry.  They are so much more than that.


Thank you Hasan Minaj.

Okay…onto the main event. VICTORIA F!

In our ABC book of Abusive Behaviors, G stands for GASLIGHTING! And underneath G for Gaslighting?  A big ol’ picture of Victoria F. Funny enough, she’s pictured under M for Manipulation as well.

When things are going her way, Victoria is happy as a clam.
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Sorry not sorry

But as soon as things aren’t going her way, Victoria pulls out all the stops to manipulate Peter until she gets what she wants. Last night, Peter had some concerning information brought to him by an ex-girlfriend.  He very reasonably wanted to sit down with Victoria and discuss what he heard.  He wasn’t accusing her of anything or calling her names, but just looking to have a much-needed conversation. But just like all the other “tough conversations” they had, as soon as Victoria felt the power shift away from her, she went into defensive mode.

  • Victoria said that it was “unfair” that Peter brought this up.  (Wouldn’t it be more unfair for him to continue to blindly pursue this relationship without giving her a chance to air her side of the story?)
  • Victoria made herself seem like the victim, flipping the narrative that this was Peter’s fault for bringing this up at a bad time. (“You decided that what Merissa told you is more important than meeting my entire family.”-Victoria making it seem like PETER is at fault for bringing this up. When were you supposed to talk about this?  Should he just ignore all the problems and red flags so that it doesn’t inconvenience you?)
  • “I’m trying really  hard.  I’ve never tried this hard in a relationship.” (Again rough quote from last night, but Victoria claiming that she is putting in the work without showing any of the receipts.  What have we seen that shows she is trying?  You can’t just say that you are doing things.  You have to actually do them.)
  • Peter tries to talk things out and make sense of the situation.  Victoria’s response: “You just came in here to act like that…are you kidding me?” “I like adore you. I was going to tell you tonight that I’m falling in love with you.  How am I supposed to do that now?” “I had high hopes for you to meet my family and I’m just so disappointed.” (She’s blaming him and hoping to make him feel guilty, so he ignores his gut feeling about her being the wrong person.)

And Peter ends up apologizing to her. He apologizes if she felt like he was attacking or accusing her.  He apologizes for ruining the evening.

He had a TOTALLY normal reaction to getting some disturbing news about a love interest he is really just starting to get to know.  His reaction was reasonable and rational.  He tried to get to the bottom of things.  But Victoria F’s manipulation and turning-the-tables confused him until he couldn’t trust his gut or his heart and he ends up keeping her around for another week.

Our Rose for this week goes to Merisa for being the friend who would reach out and let someone know that they might not be seeing all sides of the situation.  This wasn’t just messy gossip or sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong.  This was a chance to be a positive bystander, check-in on a friend, and let them know they may be stuck in a relationship that is hurting them.  Be there for your friends.  Reach out.  Let them know they aren’t alone and that they deserve a love that doesn’t gaslight or manipulate.  They deserve a relationship that doesn’t hurt all the time.

If you’re that friend and you need advice on how to get through, give us a call.  We’re always here.  815-756-5228.

Will You Accept This Rant? January 27

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Welcome back to all of you who love Bachelor Nation, hate Bachelor Nation, or love to hate Bachelor Nation!  All are welcome in our tiny corner of this vast and complicated universe of tears, roses, and prematurely popped Champagne bottles.

If you haven’t been following along yet, we’re working to examine and call out our culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation.  Check out our weekly Facebook Live video (clink this link!) to hear all our thoughts and let us know what you’re thinking about this week! Don’t forget, you can always follow along with us on Twitter too! (@Safe_PassageDV)

Strap in, folx!

This week’s drama:

  • Peter’s first one-on-one date with Victoria F: a flight (because Peter is a pilot, remember?!), Cedar Point Amusement Park all to themselves, a private country-music concert, and a romantic dinner.
  • THE PRIVATE COUNTRY MUSIC CONCERT WAS BY VICTORIA F’S EX-BOYFRIEND!

    Or maybe just her one-time hookup but still…well done, producers!
  • Full-tackle football group date: yellow versus pink teams, everybody tied.  I cared almost as much as I do about regular football. Go team.
  • Group date cocktail party: the return of Alayah!  Alayah comes back much to the frustration of literally everyone else but Peter and the ABC execs. (insert dollar eyes emoji here)
  • Post-group date drama: Alayah isn’t happy with having a beef with just ONE Victoria.  She spills the tea (from the internet–Hi Reddit!) on Chase Rice and Victoria F and starts a two-Victoria feud.
  • Second one-on-one date: Peter has a romantic and refreshingly drama-free date with Kelsey in romantic Cleveland, OH.
  • Pre-rose ceremony cocktail party: everyone but Alayah is pissed at Peter and they do not hold back.
  • To be continued: the episode ends with Peter and Victoria P having a conversation about Alayah and it looks like this drama will follow us into next week’s rose ceremony.

We’ve got a whole suitcase to unpack with all this drama but the major revelation for one of our WYATR hosts is that ABC likes to leave you on a cliff-hanger instead of getting down to the rose ceremony each episode. Get used to it, Kendal!

Our main takeaways from this week were:

  • Relationships end and we’re shaped by  our history.
  • Women and femmes are defined by so much more than our appearance.
  • Emotional manipulation is very serious and far too common.
  • Roller-coasters are for amusement parks, not relationships.

Victoria F was SHOOK to see her ex, Chase Rice, was the surprise performer at her date with Peter. TBF, Chase Rice seemed to be pretty surprised to see her as well. She went into a pretty full meltdown over how she would tell Peter that they were just serenaded by her ex. If we are honest about the nature of relationships, the vast vast majority of us will have an ex in our history. Very few of us meet one person and stay with them for the rest of our lives and very few healthy relationships are built that way.  It is completely normal to date someone, enjoy your time together, and eventually move on from that relationship. We all have relationships (romantic, platonic, physical, familial, or otherwise) that have shaped us into who we are today.  For better or for worse, we’re impacted by the people we’ve known and especially by the people we’ve loved. If your partner is too jealous to acknowledge your past or is threatened by your past to the point where they would be angry at a reminder of your previous relationships, that romantic connection is headed nowhere good. We were so happy to see Peter’s healthy and silly reaction to Victoria’s news showing none of the possessiveness or control a jealous partner might have.


He wasn’t mad, just a little slow to figure it out.

Staying on the same date, we were floored to hear Victoria’s toast to their future kids who would have “hot moms and successful dads.”  This throwaway moment in the episode highlights how often women are told, in obvious and in subtle ways, that the most important thing they offer to the world, to their families, to their communities is their beauty. Women can be conventionally attractive and that’s fine.  Wear make-up, wear heels, dress up, go high-femme by ALL means. But just know that this doesn’t make you a better or worse person; it doesn’t define you at all.  I hope Victoria knows that she can be so much more to her partner and her children than just a MILF. I also hope young boys watching know that their worth isn’t measured by their career success.  Just like women are put in a box of being judged by our appearance, men are often taught that their value lies solely in being a “provider”. None of us should be raised in a box and all of us should use all our strength to break down those binaries and stereotypes at every opportunity!


My face every time someone reinforces gender stereotypes.

From one Victoria to the next, a main theme of this episode was whether or not Peter could or should trust Victoria P.  Her conflict with Alayah from last week continued (helped by the producers manufacturing Alayah’s return, kudos on that drama guys!) and Peter was forced to decide if he trusted Alayah’s story or Victoria P’s. While I’m no hardcore #TeamAlayah stan, I have to say that she laid out her case to Peter with facts and receipts.  Victoria P’s ongoing conversations with Peter seemed to rely wholly on her telling him to trust her because of their connection and trust her because she’s been vulnerable with him.  She’s not telling him to trust her because she’s been honest or trust her because she cares for him.  She’s almost threatening to punish him for not trusting her, with or without evidence. She’s almost saying that him even questioning her is hurting their connection. This is subtle gaslighting but it is definitely gaslighting or if we’re being generous, gaslighting-adjacent.  Trust is important in relationships but trust should never be weaponized. Your partner should never bully you or punish you for being concerned by the facts that are in front of you.  “You should trust me no matter what.” “I can’t believe you would question me even though I’ve done X, Y, and Z for you.” “If you really loved me, you would believe me, not her.”  Those are the calling cards of a gaslighter. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, your partner should want you to get to the bottom of that, not punish you for being concerned.  We saw a lot of emotional manipulation out of Victoria P tonight and that is often overlooked or ignored in relationships.  This can be one of the early signs that something is really wrong.  Trust your gut and reach out for support. Sometimes we need someone else on the outside looking in (or an entire country watching on our TVs) to help us confirm that, yah, something pretty messed up is going on.

Finally, we just wanted to reiterate that relationships shouldn’t be a roller coaster.  We’ve talked in our videos about the cycle of violence and thinking of that cycle as a roller coaster is another way to recognize that you might be ignoring the lows because the highs have been so good. Abuse isn’t often constant.  It’s not usually a 24/7 battle with the person who is hurting you.  Most abusive relationships will have high highs and low lows. It is easy from the outside to focus on the lows you see in a friend’s relationship and wonder why they won’t “just leave”.  It is easy from the inside to focus on the highs and think that maybe if you just try harder you can make the highs last. We want you to know that you deserve better than that. Healthy relationships are not always honeymoons and Valentine’s day, but there shouldn’t be abuse. You deserve better and better is out there.  If you notice you’re caught in a roller coaster relationship, you’re not alone.  There is help.

Finally our roses for the week:

Our rose this week goes to all the girls in the house for sticking up for themselves.  We heard some real emotions this week being shared not just with each other but with Peter.  We’ve never gotten to see something like this before where contestants told the lead that they felt disrespected or hurt by his decisions and we’re so happy to see that play out on our screens. We need more examples of women speaking up for themselves and putting the emotional labor back on the person who really should be handling it. We can be kind and compassionate without being doormats and we were thrilled to see the women live that out this week.

Our dead rose this week goes to Alayah for some sneaky internet bullying.  We’re not here to say Alayah is awful or should go home, but she clearly brought up gossip about Victoria F and Chase to try to hurt Victoria’s relationship with Peter or with the other girls.  Two thumbs way way down to that type of bullying.

Maybe we should end next week with our good rose to go out on a high note; let us know what you think!  Check us out on Facebook and Twitter, share your thoughts in the comments, and let’s keep this conversation going!