“Why I’m glad we’re seeing Cat and Romy on The Bachelor.”

 

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After Wednesday night’s episode of The Bachelor, I think we can all agree on three things:

  • There is perhaps no experience more frustrating and isolating than being gaslighted
  • Bullying doesn’t stop once you become an adult
  • Romy needs to be… jailed. Like two weeks ago.

For anyone who missed it, the drama began when 25-year-old Tenille returned from her single date with the Honey Badger having kissed him – even though she’d previously said she wouldn’t kiss him on a first date.

You see, the interesting thing about humans is that sometimes they change their minds, and also context is a thing. So even though we can be adamant about certain decisions, we often behave differently in the moment, and it’s precisely no one else’s business. 

Except one person decided it was their business, and that person was Romy.

I just think it's funny
that you said something once
and then changed your mind.

Romy took it upon herself to confront Tenille, asking her why she said it was "gross" to kiss Nick when he had kissed so many other women, and then went ahead and NOT ONLY kissed him, but also told everyone about it.

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Tenille explained that she never said it was gross, and reasoned that while in her normal, day-to-day life she probably wouldn't make out with a guy who was dating a dozen other women, she's on this show and....

NO.

Romy. Was. Not. Having. It.

"Then why are you on The Bachelor?" Romy said. "You know what The Bachelor involves." At this point, Tenille decided to walk away, but moments later, she was approached again. When Tenille tried to explain that she actually never said the thing Romy was accusing her of, Romy looked her straight in the eye and yelled: "WOW MAN DON'T BE SO AGGRESSIVE" and Tenille decided to run away from the mansion, which honestly seemed like a fairly reasonable response.

READ: The Twins recap The Bachelor: Er… it actually just became too mean.

Barefoot and crying somewhere outside the mansion, Tenille told a producer she just couldn't be there anymore, because of how badly she was being treated. Eventually she returned, much to the dismay of Romy and Cat, who said they wished she had "kept running".

In the same episode, Cat joked with three other contestants about an intruder named Deanna who tied her t-shirt up to 'show her midriff', even though she didn't have 'good abs'.

For Australian audiences, Romy and Cat's shaming, bullying and gaslighting of other contestants crossed an important line, resulting in widespread outrage.

The overall sentiment is that the cruelness of people like Romy and Cat shouldn't be aired during prime time on national television, because it suggests that it's normal, acceptable, and even amusing. Those women shouldn't be there - and the fact that they are indicates Channel Ten's tacit approval of their behaviour.

Throughout this season, however, I've been observing something very different.

For the first time in my life, I'm seeing nuanced experiences I've had placed in the spotlight, and an overwhelming sense of universal understanding that it's a painful, frustrating and lonely place to be in.

I remember being 14 and not having the language or the self-confidence to pinpoint why I was so hurt when a group of friends ran away from me at a shopping centre, then told me it was "just a joke".

I remember feeling so powerless when I tried to ignore the girls who constantly made fun of the way I looked, the way I dressed, and what I said, only to have them approach me over and over again asking me why I was being so sensitive.

Catch up on The Bachelor with our recap podcast, Bach Chat.


I remember mustering up the courage to stand up for myself and being told I was "aggressive" or "overreacting".

I remember being exasperated while trying to explain that tearing apart everything about me wasn't the same as just "being honest".

Last night in particular, it was vindicating to see this very experience reflected back to me on television. And to have the bulk of Australia's viewership identify it, talk about it, and decide that it's not okay.

The power of being gaslighted lies in its ability to make us feel entirely alone - like we're going insane.

The term comes from the 1944 film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. In the film, Bergman’s husband wants to steal her jewellery, and realises he can do it by having her dismissed as insane and taken to a mental institution. To make her feel crazy, he sets the gaslights in their home to flicker on and off, and when Bergman’s character reacts, he tells her she’s just seeing things.

What happened on The Bachelor last night was that an entire country saw the gaslights.

 

If we can have a conversation about what this behaviour looks like, how isolating it can be, and why it's so dangerous, we empower people experiencing it to trust their instincts.

And in doing so, we go just a little way towards removing its power.

For more from Clare Stephens, you can follow her on FacebookInstagram or Twitter. You can also join our Bachelor Lols group on Facebook for all Bachelor-related lols and goss. 

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