Hello hello hello to all our returning readers, our ranters, and to Victoria F’s dog, Buxton!
We had a similar reaction to this week’s episode.
As always, here’s a reminder about what we’re up to:
We’re working to examine and call out our culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation. Check out our weekly Facebook Live video (clink this link!) to hear all our thoughts and let us know what you’re thinking about this week! Don’t forget, you can always follow along with us on Twitter too! (@Safe_PassageDV) As a fun bonus this week, our video is sideways on Facebook and someone accidentally gets hit in the face with a rose!
This week was all about the drama, so let’s not wait one more second!
Who wants drama?
We’ll start with a quick recap off all the hometown dates in the order shown by production before we dive into the drama:
- Knoxville, TN: Hannah Ann
Hannah Ann takes Peter ax-throwing so he can prove that he’s a “tough guy” to Hannah Ann’s father who works in forestry. Cool. When meeting Dad later on that evening, he seems wholly unimpressed, so this might not have worked out as planned.
- Des Moines, IA: Kelsey
Kelsey and Peter foot-stomp some grapes into a signature wine. She tells him she loves him and they drink the Toe Pinot. That’s really all there is to report.
- Auburn, AL: Madi
Madi takes Peter to explore Auburn University and trounces him in a friendly game of HORSE. Charles Barkley tells him to treat Madi right and Madi’s family obsesses over whether she’s told Peter that she’s a virgin.
- Virginia Beach, CA: Victoria F
DRAMA. Victoria meets Peter on a beach and almost loses her dog while making out with Peter. They take some old-timey pictures and dance to a live country-music performance that’s just a little too on-the-nose with lyrics like “I don’t want easy; I want crazy.” Before leaving, Peter is caught by an old ex, Merisa, who warns him that Victoria isn’t a good fit for him. Merisa tells him Victoria has a reputation for ruining relationships, a negative personality, and just generally not the right fit for a guy like him. Peter brings this up to Victoria before meeting her family and all hell breaks loose. Peter heads back to his hotel room rather than sit through what would have been THE MOST AWKWARD FAMILY DINNER EVER.
The episode ended with a rose ceremony. Peter sent Kelsey back home to Des Moines. Next week is the fantasy suites and the previews show we’re not done with the drama yet!
We’ll miss you, Kelsey!
Of course, we have to talk about the Victoria F situation and we’ll get to that, but we want to take a minute to address a few other more subtle things that happened this episode.
First, the idea that Peter has to be some kind of “tough guy” to impress Hannah Ann’s dad. We see this time and time again that just as girls are expected to look and behave a certain way to be accepted, guys get forced into their own box too. Tony Porter calls this the “Man Box” (Watch his Ted Talk!) and Jackson Katz calls it the “Tough Guise”. Men are expected to be unemotional, providers, physically intimidating, and even violent. Men aren’t often told that it is okay to have feelings and to be empathetic and kind. Peter doesn’t strike us as the ax-throwing type and that is completely fine. Everyone should be free to be who they are, not feel forced to live out a stereotype based on their gender.
The other subtle attitude that popped up was the idea that the highest ideal a woman can strive for is a relationship with a man. You might be able to guess it from our ranting last week, but this came up in Madi’s family. We talked last week about purity culture, so I won’t rehash that except to say that staying a virgin until marriage is a CHOICE. It is a totally great choice to make if it feels empowering or important to you, but it is not an inherently better or safer choice than choosing to have sex with another adult who is enthusiastically consenting. “Saving yourself for marriage” is totally cool; you do you! But choosing to have sex (or being a victim of sexual assault or abuse) does not make you any less valuable. You are not broken. You matter.
Getting off our soapbox there and climbing onto another soapbox…
Madi’s dad, Chad, mentions that he and Madi’s mom have been praying for Madi’s husband since Madi was an infant. Do I think that this makes Chad and his wife bad people? Do I think they had bad intentions or wanted to hurt their daughter? Absolutely not. Do I think this attitude props up our patriarchal system that harms women, even if unintentionally? Absolutely yes.
What if Madi realized growing up that she was bisexual or a lesbian? What if she fell in love with a woman or someone who was nonbinary? Would she feel safe to come out to her family, knowing that they’d been praying for her husband since she’d been born?
What if Madi met a man, fell in love, got married, and then started getting abused? Would she feel confident and safe to leave that relationship, knowing that her family would always support her? Or would she worry that she had “failed” in the most important aspect of her life, her relationship?
If you are the praying type, pray for your daughter to be kind. Pray for your daughter to be brave. Pray for your daughter to be smart, to be empathetic, to be a leader, to be a world-changing woman. Pray for her to be so much more than “just” a wife. Make sure your daughters know that the most important thing isn’t if or who they marry. They are so much more than that.
Thank you Hasan Minaj.
Okay…onto the main event. VICTORIA F!
In our ABC book of Abusive Behaviors, G stands for GASLIGHTING! And underneath G for Gaslighting? A big ol’ picture of Victoria F. Funny enough, she’s pictured under M for Manipulation as well.
When things are going her way, Victoria is happy as a clam.
Sorry not sorry
But as soon as things aren’t going her way, Victoria pulls out all the stops to manipulate Peter until she gets what she wants. Last night, Peter had some concerning information brought to him by an ex-girlfriend. He very reasonably wanted to sit down with Victoria and discuss what he heard. He wasn’t accusing her of anything or calling her names, but just looking to have a much-needed conversation. But just like all the other “tough conversations” they had, as soon as Victoria felt the power shift away from her, she went into defensive mode.
- Victoria said that it was “unfair” that Peter brought this up. (Wouldn’t it be more unfair for him to continue to blindly pursue this relationship without giving her a chance to air her side of the story?)
- Victoria made herself seem like the victim, flipping the narrative that this was Peter’s fault for bringing this up at a bad time. (“You decided that what Merissa told you is more important than meeting my entire family.”-Victoria making it seem like PETER is at fault for bringing this up. When were you supposed to talk about this? Should he just ignore all the problems and red flags so that it doesn’t inconvenience you?)
- “I’m trying really hard. I’ve never tried this hard in a relationship.” (Again rough quote from last night, but Victoria claiming that she is putting in the work without showing any of the receipts. What have we seen that shows she is trying? You can’t just say that you are doing things. You have to actually do them.)
- Peter tries to talk things out and make sense of the situation. Victoria’s response: “You just came in here to act like that…are you kidding me?” “I like adore you. I was going to tell you tonight that I’m falling in love with you. How am I supposed to do that now?” “I had high hopes for you to meet my family and I’m just so disappointed.” (She’s blaming him and hoping to make him feel guilty, so he ignores his gut feeling about her being the wrong person.)
And Peter ends up apologizing to her. He apologizes if she felt like he was attacking or accusing her. He apologizes for ruining the evening.
He had a TOTALLY normal reaction to getting some disturbing news about a love interest he is really just starting to get to know. His reaction was reasonable and rational. He tried to get to the bottom of things. But Victoria F’s manipulation and turning-the-tables confused him until he couldn’t trust his gut or his heart and he ends up keeping her around for another week.
Our Rose for this week goes to Merisa for being the friend who would reach out and let someone know that they might not be seeing all sides of the situation. This wasn’t just messy gossip or sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong. This was a chance to be a positive bystander, check-in on a friend, and let them know they may be stuck in a relationship that is hurting them. Be there for your friends. Reach out. Let them know they aren’t alone and that they deserve a love that doesn’t gaslight or manipulate. They deserve a relationship that doesn’t hurt all the time.
If you’re that friend and you need advice on how to get through, give us a call. We’re always here. 815-756-5228.