Laura Tanner: F- 1pm
The Bachelorette Social institutions of marriage and family shape the ways in which love is understood and perceived. The pop culture television show, The Bachelorette features a single bachelorette and multiple male suitors exemplifying how institutions can shape notions of love. This paper is centered on the eighth season of The Bachelorette. For the very first time, the show features a young single mother, Emily Maynard who hopes to “fall in love again” and is in search for “a man that can be a father figure for her young daughter”. Maynard has several luxurious dates with the suitors who consist of mostly affluent Caucasian males. The dates offer Maynard a better sense of compatibility in deciding who could be her potential husband. However, Maynard is not the only one in search of love but so are her suitors—in finding “the one” they can spend the rest of their lives with. In addition to the dates, incompatible suitors are personally eliminated by Maynard during the rose ceremony after all dates are held. Together, the representations of love reinforce how notions of love are shaped by social ideologies. In this paper, I argue that The Bachelorette represents love as consisting of a heterosexual monogamous relationship and reinforces the patriarchal marriage system. Although the show is merely a commercialization of dating, it generates sexual scripts for participants to follow reinforcing the hegemonic ideologies, creates invisibility for couples who exist outside of the heterosexual norms and further marginalizes women.
The Bachelorette showcases a search for true love but creates marginalization by representing love as obtainable only through heterosexual monogamous relationships. The heterosexual monogamous structure of love is displayed from the very start of the show as Maynard and the suitors emphasize their intentions. In the first episode Maynard clearly states that she hopes to find a husband that can be a father figure to her daughter, while the men hope that Maynard will become their wife—or the one they spend the rest of their lives with. Their intentions are centered on the idea of having one partner for life. This particular idea exemplifies how “monogamy has come to be the definition of love (Jackson 205)”. The notion of love displayed by Maynard’s search for a husband represents the idea of a heterosexual and monogamous relationship backed by institutionalized ideas of marriage. These institutionalized ideas do not allow all lovers to marry, particularly if they are lesbian, homosexual, or already married (Jackson 207).” Traditional ideals of marriage in turn represent a monogamous relationship between woman and a man. While sexual preferences are not discussed on the show, it is implied that both Maynard and the bachelors are heterosexual because all suitors are male. Love represented on The Bachelorette omits the possibility of homosexual and lesbian love by focusing solely on the heterosexual relationship between Maynard and the suitors. The institutions of marriage and ideals of a heterosexual monogamous relationship date displayed in The Bachelorette, are a product of early American courtship. The history of courtship was one of an economic and social structure and was used to maintain or challenge racial hierarchies in which class was contested (Baily 3). How these social and economic factors shape the structure of The Bachelorette in relation to the history of courtship can be exemplified by Charity Girls. These girls were urban working class white women who often went on dates with men, not for money rather to uphold and image clean from a good girl bad girl dichotomy. With changing ideals of what was considered proper and improper for women, women were forced to abide by prescribed sexual scripts such as being accompanied by a male. Although they were working class women, to uphold their image they were coaxed into being treated by men,