One of the things that makes me grimace when watching both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette is the language used to describe the contestants. The males involved with the shows are referred to as “men.” However, the female participants are almost always referred to as “the girls.” On rare occasion, they sometimes are referred to as ladies. There’s a great disparity in these chosen words. The word man represents a grown male; the parallel term is woman. The word boy represents an immature male, usually a teenager or less; the parallel term in this situation is girl representing an immature female. However, when language is used on The Bachelor/ette, parallel terms aren’t used. Instead, we repeatedly hear “men” paired with “girls.”
I find this linguistic disparity discouraging and sexist. It seems to be putting down the women and making them less mature and capable than the men. Language like this reveals our latent cultural attitudes and an undermining belief in the equality of the sexes. However, many folks would tell me that this is no big deal. After all, it’s “just” a reality show, but everyone knows that reality shows aren’t all that real. Yet the language used by the show is reflective of a greater issue in our culture.
The traditions on The Bachelor/ette are well entrenched, and fans are liable to revolt if changes are made that are perceived as too drastic from the norm. However, I wish that those on the show and those producing it would make an effort to make sure the language used reflects the equality between the sexes that should exist in our world.
© 2015 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC