We're only two weeks into this season of The Bachelor and well, it's already been a lot. And unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.
Everyone tells me not to expect much from a show that pits women against each other to vie for the attention of a man, and they’re right, but even my lowest expectations for Australian TV didn’t account for the racism I've seen unfold this season.
I’m a relative newbie to The Bachelor. I watched my first season last year and, while it obviously wasn’t super progressive, the discourse around Abbie Chatfield and her 'villain edit' started an important conversation that's now transformed into something rather impressive. Maybe that’s why I thought this season we’d have the same level of discourse and critical thinking — but nope.
Watch this year's Bachelor decorate a cake while answering rapid fire questions about the season. Post continues below.
Even before Locky’s season began, there were red flags. As the promos ramped up, Areeba — the only woman of colour we had been introduced to — was immediately cast as a cut-throat b*tch. Gee, giving the only brown woman a villain edit. Groundbreaking.
There’s a long history of painting assertive brown women as competitive, “aggressive”, or a “threat.” It dates all the way back to colonial times — the perfect way to simultaneously gaslight, dehumanise and silence us. The angry-brown-woman stereotype delegitimises our emotions and justifies crimes against us. You can read more about it in Ruby Hamad’s incredible book, White Tears Brown Scars.
Despite all this, I watched The Bachelor anyway. But instead of seeing the exciting Pakistani-Australian representation I’ve been craving my whole life, I got to see a brown woman get racially abused for laughs.
If you need a reminder, Zoe-Clare spent the majority of the first cocktail party complaining about Areeba for interrupting her chat with Locky earlier. And the rant became about race very fast.
She mocked Areeba’s name, calling her “abracadabra”, which felt so overtly racist that I was left staring at my screen with my mouth hanging open.
It hit way too close to home for me. My name is Soaliha. Traditionally pronounced Saw-leh-ha. With a hard ‘h’. I have been called every butchered and anglicised version of my name you can think of. I’ve even had a teacher call me “Saliva” at school.
When I was 18 and working my first job in retail, a manager told me my name was too hard to pronounce and that she would call me Leah instead. I was literally called “Leah” on the actual rosters for months without my consent, by multiple managers in multiple stores. And I didn’t have the confidence to argue about it because I didn’t want to be branded the ‘angry brown woman.’