The Bachelor's Madison Prewett: Power Over is Fear Of
In the midst of this season of The Bachelor, the actions of one of the contestants has posed a question for viewers and for women's rights activists. Madison Prewett told Peter on this Monday's episode that she would not be able to move forward if he was intimate with the other two women on the show. Viewers on Instagram and Twitter have sparked an unflattering comparison of Madi to last season's contestant Luke P., who was trolled after giving Bachelorette Hannah Brown a similar "ultimatum." So is Luke P. experiencing the bad end of a double-standard because he is a man? Upon deeper examination of this event, it is clear that there may have been an even deeper double standard affecting both of these contestants throughout their lives.
Madison and Luke P. expressed their beliefs to the Bachelor/Bachelorette in very different ways. Luke had told Hannah that he is waiting for marriage at the very beginning of the season. He sat down at dinner before the "Fantasy Suite" date, and was pictured saying, confidently, "So, let's talk about sex." He proceeded to tell Hannah that "If you were intimate with one, or multiple of these men, I would be wanting to go home." Hannah B. shot back that he's not her husband, and therefore can't tell her what to do. As Hannah sent him home, Luke P. claimed that she owed him time to speak, and even asked to say a prayer over her. Clearly, Luke P. is very secure in his decision to wait for marriage.
On the other hand, Madison sat down with the Bachelor Peter after a rose ceremony, to share her decision with him. She seemed nervous, and didn't yet tell him she was a virgin. She expressed that if he slept with other women, it would be hard for her to move forward. Peter was confused, but she never absolutely threatened to go home. Later at dinner, after she shared that she is in fact waiting for marriage, Peter asked whether there was a 100% chance she would leave if he slept with anyone else. Peter was still looking for her to doubt her decision just enough to let him off free for sleeping with other women six days before their potential engagement. Madison was pressured to doubt her convictions and approve of Peter's behavior. And the fact that she was so nervous to tell Peter her decision shows that, throughout her life, she probably has not received the greatest responses to sharing her virginity.
An article from the Columnist in 2017 explained that "power over is fear of." Men often look to women for approval of their masculinity and attractiveness, and consequently have oppressed women in fear that women would not approve of them. Men have been able to do this because they are physically stronger and more imposing. In this case, Luke exploited the emotional attachment that Hannah had to him, doing whatever he wanted because she would always approve of him. Whereas, in Madison's case, she could not pressure Peter into accepting her decisions.
But, by viewing these two contestants differently are we promoting a double-standard that hurts men? I would argue that it's impossible for women to oppress men. Biologically, men are generally more confident than women because they are physically stronger, meaning they can push standards on women. Women are still struggling to escape these standards both in relationships and in the workplace. Encouraging women to be more confident, like Madison was, is a great thing because we are still so far from equality.
Understanding why men and women act certain ways can give us insight into problems in society, and how we can solve these problems beginning with addressing our own biases.