Last night’s episode of The Bachelorette picked right up on last week's cliffhanger. After his ex girlfriend Alexis Thexton exposed him as cheater and Rachel told him to “get the fuck out,” DeMario showed up at the mansion gates to ask for another chance to prove himself. This week Rachel hears him out. She listens. She nods politely. She lets him share his inspirational quotes and anecdotes about her being the woman of his dreams. She graciously expresses gratitude that he has apparently learned something from the experience. And then she politely tells him that there is still no chance in hell that she will ever date him again.
Suddenly, Rihanna’s “Needed Me” plays in the background, and Rachel laughs as DeMario cries. Okay, neither of those things happened. But they should have! Rachel did not take DeMario back, and it was a celebratory moment for me. I found this model of conflict resolution in relationships refreshing, because we almost never see it, but we should.
In romantic comedies and reality television plot lines alike, viewers are confronted with a sexist trope about women in hetero relationships: that they owe their partners forgiveness when they mess up. Men betray women’s trust or fall short in some other way, and the women eventually forgive them and take them back into their lives. It’s another way to imply that women are the emotional gatekeepers in their relationships.
This trope is especially true for Black women. In Lemonade, after all of the baseball bats are swung and the "sorrys" denied, Beyoncé still forgives Jay Z. Granted, Bey and Jay have way more history than any couple on the Bachelor franchise, a shared child, and about 1.6 billion reasons to make it work, but still. Black women who choose not to accept men after their indiscretions — at least once — are considered cold, guarded, or lacking the true feminine nature required of a woman who wants a relationship with a man. You can see this rhetoric played out in just about any of Tyler Perry’s Madea films, or in conversations about side chicks on Black Twitter.
I love that Rachel not only choses to reject DeMario, but that the rest of her suitors don’t hold it against her. All of the contestants understand her decision as a sign of strength and intelligence (granted, it's in their best interest to do so). Rachel makes it even clearer to the remaining men that she has no time for pettiness and insincerity when she denies roses to both Lucas
thank god and Blake during the ceremony.
Ultimately, Rachel is making decisions that we would applaud men for making if the roles were reversed. We need more examples of women putting themselves first and following their intuition in situations like this. It was a tough choice, but one we definitely needed to see.