Every episode of The Bachelorette seems to be the “most shocking yet,” but this week certainly had fans reeling — and talking, tweeting, and freaking out — over one of the contestant’s secrets.
As things heat up between bachelorette Becca Kufrin and the men vying for her heart, viewers watch as she digs deeper and deeper into their past lives and relationships in an effort to determine who she’ll choose to (hopefully) say “yes” to on the season’s finale. Week seven saw Kufrin and the six remaining men take on the Bahamas. She granted frontrunner Colton Underwood the first “one-on-one” date and the opening 30 minutes of the episode instantly focused on his secret — he’s still a virgin by choice — which the other contestants believed could “ruin” his relationship with Kufrin.
But why? Their points were that sexual chemistry is a huge part of a relationship and that it was a lot to ask Kufrin to take on the “big responsibility” of devirginizing Underwood. While we won’t deny that chemistry matters in a relationship, Kufrin said countless times how strong she believes her connection with Underwood is. The show’s editors carefully selected clips of Kufrin fawning over Underwood’s “Greek God body” to edit next to his hesitation to reveal he’s still a virgin. And as the show and its stars continued to focus on what this would mean for the couple’s relationship, fans began to speculate why it mattered so much.
A former Bachelor contestant sympathized with Underwood. Ashley Iaconetti, a contestant on season 19, had to reveal the same information to bachelor Chris Soules. Iaconetti said that while it was tough to disclose such private information for the masses, what was even more difficult was the way the show framed the news.
“… what I am really tired of is the show making it seem like such a big deal, such a big reveal — like it’s even something we have to talk about at this point in a relationship. But mainly what I find so frustrating is that they keep making it seem, time and time again, like it’s a reason for some romantic development to stop,” Iaconetti told Access.
We couldn’t agree more. Despite seriously lacking attempts to encourage diversity and innovative thinking on the show (while there has been one black Bachelorette and zero black Bachelor leads to date, let alone any leads of other races or ethnicities, the show remains predominantly white in both its contestants and stars), it typically promotes our society’s most common misconceptions and stereotypes of what a marriage “should be:” Two heterosexual white people in their late 20s to early 30s who have enough experience to “know what they want” but not too much that they’d appear undesirable to their potential partner.
So Underwood, despite his clear relationship experience (he dated Olympic gymnast Ali Raisman), charity work, and financial stability, was suddenly a candidate in jeopardy as he opened up about the fact that he is a virgin. What’s more, he disclosed to Kufrin that it “wasn’t a marriage thing” and that he was just waiting for the right woman. This should have made his news even less of a “big deal,” since it indicated that if the two end up together, he’d be willing to explore their sexual chemistry before they tie the knot.
Rather than obsess over someone’s status as a virgin or not, The Bachelorette had the opportunity to use the platform to make the news less of an ordeal. And while Kufrin inevitably gave Underwood a rose with the ability to “move past” his virginity, it was hardly a win considering how much the episode focused on the news.
A Thrillist piece revealed that contrary to popular belief, Millennials have fewer sexual partners than Generation X-ers and Baby Boomers did when they were our age. Their research on how early our generation is having sexual intercourse for the first time showed that being a virgin in your mid-20s is not as rare as we may think — or as reality television would have us believe.