One episode of risible show is one regressive step too many, writes Raybon Kan.

'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

I think this was the pitch for The Bachelor.

I've never read Jane Austen, but for reasons of feminism, this week I boycotted - or should I say girlcotted - The Bachelor.

My conscience pricked - or should I say, down-there'd - by International Women's Day, I felt unable to watch dozens of women compete to marry a dude they've never met. What makes the Bachelor the one? Well he's literally the one guy in the room. Which makes his worth equal to 30 women. (At least. We're not counting the women who didn't qualify to get in the door.)


These are women on a zero-man contract, on-call, on a trial period with no personal grievances, to please a man they haven't met. And besides, if all these other women are after him, he must be worth it, right?

On the bright side, The Bachelor does provide plenty of roles for women. But no role models. Even Miss Universe can pretend the woman won because of talent, and her prize opens doors. But here, the prize is the rich hunk. Her victory is to be taken off the market. The Bachelor, meanwhile, had won before the show began. He's the one with a wallet full of roses.

I'm not saying this isn't reality. If anything, this show is very honest. Rich people are better off than poor people. In classical economics, a woman who marries a rich guy is better off than one who doesn't. Even Donald Trump's three wives were all making rational economic decisions.

But with its extensive harem of beauties sparkling, panicking and scheming to impress a single Sheikh, The Bachelor is propaganda for Saudi Arabian attitudes to women. A human rights organisation should be collecting up episodes of this show, like evidence of animal cruelty, to raise awareness so we can rescue the contestants from this cage.

Maybe I'm taking it too seriously. It's just TV, right? What's wrong with some veg-TV, couch-time to tune out, a quick hate-and-judgment fix, before going back to the voices in your own head? Besides, love (or at least mating) really does make the world go around, so it's not like The Bachelor is fabricating a new human appetite. Women are the audience for the show, so who am I to say it's bad? Surely that's democracy in action.

Well, I'm saying it's bad.

We're better than this. Every ounce of progress, combined, worldwide, on International Women's Day doesn't reverse the damage done by one episode of The Bachelor. Glass ceiling? What glass ceiling? The Bachelor's response to the glass ceiling would be to get the girls to dance on the glass ceiling, while the Bachelor sits underneath.

Bachelor NZ girls at this week's rose ceremony, in which Catherine Lum was sent home.
Bachelor NZ girls at this week's rose ceremony, in which Catherine Lum was sent home.

The crappification of everything invades our minds, making our neurons flabby and obese. Just the fact I'm writing about it is part of the problem.

While we're distracted by the idiot question of who will win The Bachelor, we don't ask whether this show should even exist. Not to mention the American colonialism. This show takes away our identity. New Zealanders don't have bachelors. We have stag dos, not bachelor parties. A New Zealand dating show should be called Drink, Root and Vomit.

New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote, and has already had two female prime ministers, and yet we take our cultural lead now from the worst of American TV, which is stuck in the quicksand of its own history. Obviously, with Donald Trump (the former owner of the Miss Universe pageant) about to become US President, we are in the end of days as forecast in the Book of Revelation. So the pain won't last long - but still - don't we want to go down fighting?

Meanwhile, we're being told to judge another woman, Maria Sharapova, for taking Meldonium, a banned substance from Latvia, meant in theory for diabetics. Apparently the world doping agency banned it because it was turning up in a lot of samples. Well, maybe it's a masking agent, or maybe the world doping agency is standing in the way of medical progress.

If this drug can turn Latvian diabetics into professional tennis players, let's give someone a Nobel prize.

Sharapova's sponsors have dumped her like Usain Bolt off the blocks. Nike wanted you to think Sharapova's success came from her outfits. Tag Heuer wanted you to think her timing came from her watch. Porsche wanted you to think a Porsche could help you score her.

Of course, the real question is this: does Pharmac subsidise Meldonium? I think my diabetes is acting up.

Debate on this article is now closed.