Look, the Bachelor franchise has no delusions of progressiveness. The ABC reality series are devoted to a very traditional type of love. There are rose petals, elaborate dates in tropical locales, and at the end of it all, a man gets on one knee and proposes to a woman. It's all very picturesque, but it's not very forward, per se. In terms of representation and political awareness, Bachelor Nation has got a ways to go. This year in particular, though, the franchise seems to be making strides, starting with what we'll call the Dancing With the Stars snafu. In March, former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe exposed what seemed to be a double standard in the world of Bachelor Nation. According to Bristowe, although the franchise frequently sends Bachelors to DWTS, their female counterparts have been barred from the popular reality show. In a recent interview with Refinery29, Jojo Fletcher seemed to corroborate this claim.
"Yeah, I would have," Fletcher replied when Refinery29 asked if she would ever do DWTS. Then she added, "But some contractual things kinda got in the way."
For those who haven't been following the story, let us get you up to speed. Bristowe, 31, alleged that after her turn as Bachelorette, she was invited onto the hit reality show Dancing With the Stars. As the story goes, Bachelor producer Mike Fleiss wouldn't let that happen. Fleiss did let Nick Viall, Sean Lowe, and Chris Soules go on the show, however.
"Actually I was offered [Dancing With The Stars], had the contract & Mike Fliess [sic] told me I wasn't allowed. He said he didnt want people wanting fame after his show," Bristowe wrote on Twitter after it was announced that Viall would appear on this season of the show.
Fleiss responded with some belated support, writing, "@kaitlynbristowe has my total support if she wants to appear on DWTS!!!"
When asked if she was aware of this Twitter exchange, Fletcher told Refinery29, "Yeah. I know what's going on there." After a pause, she continued, "I will say, I hope that now that it's come to light that the Bachelorettes haven't really had the opportunity before [to appear on DWTS] that [the situation] it changes."
It's difficult to discern the reasoning behind this seeming double standard. Bristowe implied that producers didn't want the Bachelorettes to seem hungry for fame. Fletcher implied that the prevailing theory is that Dancing With the Stars has the potential to ruin the relationship. She doesn't think this is a viable reason, though.
"If it's a decision that [the Bachelorette is] making and their partner supports it, then let them do it," she said. "You know, if your relationship fails because of Dancing With the Stars, it's not because of Dancing With the Stars. If your relationship is strong, it's gonna last no matter what."
This is where it gets confusing. Because post-show, both the Bachelorette and the Bachelor are nurturing a recent engagement. It doesn't matter the gender — a relationship forged in factory of that franchise is fragile. If the Bachelorette runs the risk of ruining her engagement by going on another reality show, then so does the Bachelor. Clearly, this argument only applies selectively. Fletcher seems to be keenly aware of this, although it's not entirely clear what prevented her from going on Dancing With the Stars. Was it because the producers didn't want her to break up with Jordan Rodgers, her fart-loving fiancé?
"You would think that, but then why would the Bachelor be able to do it?" she answered. "So I think there might be. I don't know. You know?"
Given that the Bachelor franchise isn't terribly progressive, yeah, there could be — we'll say it — some sexism afoot. Well, there might be. We don't know. (Actually, we do know. You know?)