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The Bachelorette did Katie Thurston a disservice with a "sanitized" discussion on sexual assault

  • "While it was very clear what Katie was talking about, the language she chose to use was cautious," Shannon Melero says of Thurston's revelation on Monday's episode that she had been sexually assaulted 10 years ago. "Her admission of what had been done to her started off with a line she’s been pushing all season: 'As you all know I am very sex-positive,' she said, before explaining that her outlook on sex was the direct result of a negative experience. 'For a long time I didn’t want to have sex and I was in such denial about what this person had done, I tried to be in a relationship with them. I felt responsible for being too drunk but it wasn’t my fault... Consent is important and I did not give it that night.' Like most emotional revelations on this franchise, the moment felt staged despite Katie’s bravery for sharing something so intimate on national television. The setup and the language had the distinct thumbprint of producers who get their checks signed by a network owned by Disney. Katie shared this huge revelation and instead of talking more about how she felt about it or even gauging the men’s reaction to something like this, the segment was quickly closed down, with Nick Viall thanking the men and Katie for their honesty. This admission, and Katie’s feelings, were left dangling in the air, unaddressed. The whole exchange was as sanitized as a discussion of sexual assault can possibly be." Melero pointed out that in the group date, none of the men shared anything of note. "Yet at the end of it, it was Katie who was baring her soul in front of a group of men who had no other reaction than shaking their heads and thanking her for sharing, as if all she had done was split the last slice of pizza," says Melero. "The moment also betrays the very notion of consent itself that Katie was trying to put forward. How exactly did the producers gain her consent to have this extremely personal story aired out on national television as little more than an Episode 2 plot point that played second fiddle to an argument between Thomas and all the men in the house? If the entire marketing behind Katie’s season is that it’s a brand new girl power season with a sex-positive cool girl and her two new lady pals running the entire show, then where exactly on the feminist spectrum does a semi-scripted admission of sexual assault fall?"


    • Katie Thurston stressed the importance of opening up about her experience publicly: "I think it's just hard for people to start the conversation, and I think that's what being vulnerable does," she told Mike Johnson and Bryan Abasolo on their Talking It Out podcast. "You know, that's kind of what that circle did (on the group date) - one person started to open up and then the other person's like, 'Well, they're going to share, I'm going to share,' and (it was) just kind of this domino effect."
    • Rachel Lindsay exposing The Bachelor franchise could lead to meaningful change: "It’s true: Lindsay didn’t blow anything up," says Emily Yahr. "But her story could lead to meaningful change. Lindsay shedding light on what else really happens on the show could affect viewers’ perspective on the series. Not to mention that of the actual contestants involved. The Bachelor franchise has always been resistant to change, but if Lindsay’s revelations lead to more stars of the show feeling bold enough to share all, it could be a domino effect that’s hard to stop."
    • Who could replace Chris Harrison?: Variety reports the choices for new Bachelor franchise host ranges from Rachel Lindsay to David Spade to Billy Eichner and Jimmy Kimmel.


    TOPICS: Katie Thurston, ABC, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, Reality TV