An Ex-‘Challenge’ Star Spoke Out About the Show’s Sexism: ‘Women Are Often Seen as Baggage’
MTV’s The Challenge is getting more viewers than ever with Total Madness. Fans love the competitions, the drama, and, of course, the veteran players who come back on the show season after season. But the show’s had some serious controversies over the years — and plenty of issues with sexism.
Even on Total Madness, we’ve seen some of the men throw sexist remarks to the women. And The Challenge has a dark past with a rape allegation that many believe wasn’t handled appropriately. Here’s what an ex-Challenge star had to say about the issues she’s experienced first-hand.
There’s a lot of negative talk against women on ‘The Challenge’
A lot of problematic behaviors have already been exposed on The Challenge: Total Madness. We saw Nelson Thomas call Kailah Casillas “the foulest woman in the house” after she had a fling with Stephen Bear. And Jenna Compono was verbally assaulted by her partner, Zach Nichols, once again.
This isn’t the first time Nichols was caught acting extremely inappropriately toward women on the show, either. Back in 2015 during Battle of the Exes 2, Nichols and Jordan Wiseley were caught having a conversation about the women in the house, according to MTV.
“Women were created from the men. He took a rib…God took a rib out of Adam to create Eve. So they are made to be …,” Nichols starts.
To that, Wiseley replies, “Inferior.”
Then, Nichols adds, “Are we supposed to honor them? Yes. These aren’t our wives. These are f*cking swamp donkeys.”
As for the “swamp donkeys” comment, Nichols tried to defend himself later by saying, “I just think I threw two fun words together. I’ve heard it but haven’t looked it up on Urban Dictionary or anything.”
There was a sexual assault case against 2 ‘Challenge’ castmembers
The Challenge has an unfortunate and dark past when it comes to sexual assault. Back in 2009 when MTV was filming Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Ruins in Thailand, Tonya Cooley filed a lawsuit claiming Kenny Santucci and Evan Starkman sexually assaulted her while she was intoxicated in her bed.
“Noting that Plaintiff was passed out to the point that she could not be awoken even with aggressive physical contact or cold water, Santucci and Starkman took another male participant’s toothbrush and rubbed the toothbrush around Plaintiff’s genitals,” the lawsuit details, according to The Daily Beast.
Ultimately, neither Santucci or Starkman appeared on another season of the show after this. But there were no repercussions for their actions, either. The publication notes the lawsuit was settled out of court in 2012. None of the details were made public.
An ex-star from the show said ‘women are often seen as baggage’
Ex-Challenge star Susie Meister has spoken against the show for a variety of reasons ranging from inappropriate conduct to certain players cheating. And she, too, noted that the sexism on the show is horrifying.
“Think about it: The goal of the people there is to win money and, there’s no doubt about it, when you have a co-ed team, the women are going to be less helpful in completing the physical challenges than the men,” Meister told Buzzfeed. “So women are often seen as baggage and [that] bleeds over into our dormitory-style living where we are seen as disposable or nuisances, so that often creates a feeling of gender war.”
She then added that it gets difficult to “maintain any sense of dignity or self-respect” when you’re on the show because of the free-flowing alcohol and number of male competitors who “try to take your tops off in the pool or whatever.”
We’re hoping The Challenge will do more to hold contestants accountable going forward, as they could certainly do better even on Total Madness.
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