reality tv

“You're not opening up enough." What the men on reality TV are really afraid of.

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” – Novelist, Margaret Atwood.

It’s a telling quote, isn’t it? Uncomfortably true.

We all know the latter half of that musing is real. How many of us hold our keys in our fists when we’re walking home, scared of strangers?

Or choose open meeting places for first dates because we’re scared of ending up in a Tinder date’s basement?

How many women are killed at the hands of their male partners every week?

At least one, in Australia alone. We know that.

Women are acutely afraid that men will kill them.

You can hear more terrifying stats like that here. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

For years, it seemed like the first half of Atwood’s quote was harder to prove. That it just existed to prove the power of the second half of the sentence.

But recently, reality TV has shown otherwise.

This week on Bachelor in Paradise, Australia watched as Connor told his love interest Shannon that he needed her to “open up more” because he felt like he “didn’t know her enough”.

Later, when pushed in an interview, he told Mamamia: “I needed that progression from our relationship, I need that push out of her in order to build something.”

Now, we don’t know the ins and outs of Connor and Shannon’s relationship – the couple hardly got any screen time. But what we do know is that that request, to ‘open up more,’ is very, very familiar.

Honey Badger?

Blake Garvey?

Ringing any bells?

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In season two of The Bachelor franchise, we watched the same thing happen to front runner Sam Frost, who was constantly being told by Blake Garvey she needed to “open up more”.

Blake and Sam Hot tub
Blake and Sam on The Bachelor. Image: Ten.

In the most recent season starring Nick Cummins we watched this familiar trope again, as he told Brooke Blurton and Sophie Tieman that they "weren't being open enough".

Reading between the lines, it feels like Nick, Blake and Connor wanted the women they were pursuing to put their heart on the line first, so they didn't have to admit how they felt and potentially get laughed at. They were terrified of being rejected.

You just have to look at the most recent example with Shannon this week.

After spending hours upon hours with each other, and on the precipice of their connection being taken to the next level, Connor started to back pedal. To audiences, it looked like he was trying to force Shannon to take that next step for both of them.

"I've been wearing my heart on my sleeve and telling you all my feelings towards everything. If you ask me a question I tell you how I feel about it," he said on Wednesday night.

"I don't feel that... I don't feel how much you care. I am so confused," said Shannon.

"Why can't you open yourself up to me?" he asked.

"What do you want Connor? What else do you need? I don't know anything about you either," she replied.

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Connor-Shannon
Things got tense between Connor and Shannon as they discussed their relationship on Bachelor in Paradise. Image: Ten.

It feels like Connor is too scared to go first, and wants Shannon to tell him she's smitten. That way he has the power. There's no risk of him being laughed at.

Later on that night, Shannon pulled Connor aside to admit: "I am so confused with how strongly I feel for you, and it freaks me the hell out. I am really impressed by you."

Suddenly, Connor's mind appeared to be at ease. "I could figure where you're at, but I couldn't really tell until you said it," he told her.

Was he just too embarrassed to go first?

Of course, what's interesting in a number of these cases is that the men involved - Blake Garvey, Nick Cummins, Connor Orochta - have begged for confirmation about how a potential love interest feels about them, only to turn around shortly after and admit they weren't entirely invested in the first place.

Asking a woman to "open up" more, when she's likely sensing your hesitation, is a way of establishing a clear power dynamic in the relationship. It's a way for a man to protect himself from the possibility of embarrassment.

Because for him, that's the most terrifying prospect of all.

What do you think? Are men just afraid that women will laugh at them?

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