The Bachelorette Started Planting The Luke Slut-Shaming Seeds This Week

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Which of these quotes would you find more infuriating from a contestant on a popular dating reality series where eventual overnight dates have become a staple? First, there’s the intensely paranoid, “I want to make sure she’s not sleeping around. I don’t think she would ever do that, but, yeah, I gotta make sure.” Then, there’s the very unblinkingly judgmental, “Let’s talk about sex… And how the marriage bed should be kept pure.”
No matter which set of words truly grinds your gears, both come from The Bachelorette season 15’s smothering villain, Luke Parker, and can be found in last week’s spoiler-filled midseason trailer.
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When you take into account Luke and Bachelorette Hannah Brown’s slightly frizzy hair and summery clothing during these scenes, it appears the former’s campaign of slut shaming takes flight later this season when The Bachelorette heads to warmer climates. It’s not like Luke is breaking out the linen button-downs for the gray skies of Riga, Latvia.
Yet, the seeds of Luke’s imminent misogynistic critiques can be spotted all over Monday night’s “Week 7.” At least Hannah is finally starting to notice.
The turmoil, as Luke brings up multiple times throughout the episode, begins with Hannah’s naked bungee jumping date with season 15 middle-runner Garrett Powell. During the outing, Hannah and Garrett are strapped directly to each other, skin to skin, and jump out of a cable car 328 feet in the air. Hannah is definitely topless for this so-called “traditional” Latvian adventure, since we see her dramatically remove her white bra before plunging out of the car. It’s a weird and telegenic time that Hannah is visibly elated about once her feet are back on the ground.
When Luke hears about the date from Garrett the next morning, he is immediately, actively upset by the news. You can see him shaking his head while Garrett retells the story of the date, in utter disbelief the Bachelorette would partake in such activities. Then Hannah brings up the experience herself during a group date including Luke, announcing she did in fact jump out of a cable car naked with Garrett. Luke is “shocked,” saying in a confessional, “[Hannah’s] body is her temple, and to expose it to anyone who isn’t her husband… that was a slap in my face.” According to Luke, the woman who is destined to his wife would next trespass against him in such a way.
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For comparison’s sake, hunky fan-favorite Tyler Cameron tells Luke on the topic, “Here’s where I differ … I actually respect and love that [Hannah] went for it.”
It would be unsettling enough for Luke to harbor these slut-shaming feelings quietly, only unspooling them for contestant drama (“Like bare skin. Being topless. I was like, ‘Hold on, hold on, what?’”) and confessionals. But, Luke — the man who needed a shower intervention from Jesus to stop having premarital sex in college — takes his grievances to Hannah, comparing the Bachelorette’s Garrett date to her cheating on him. First, he brings up the “your body is a temple” line once again. Then Luke suggests her nudity is a “slap in the face,” since he wants her to meet his family soon. The suggestion is that Hannah may not be worthy to meet the Parkers after her fun-loving behavior in Riga.
“No matter what you do, I’m going to support you. Even if you make a bone-headed mistake,” Luke says as the cherry on the slut-shaming sundae. “And you just do something completely out of your character and something that’s wrong.”
To be clear, the bungee jumping is the “bone-headed mistake” that is “wrong” in this case, even after Hannah tells Luke she wasn’t manipulated into the date. She then goes out of her way to unnecessarily assure him the nudity wasn’t sexual for her. No matter what she says, Hannah’s self-assured actions aren’t something to be admired for Luke — they’re something to “work through.”
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At first, it seems as though Hannah didn’t fully hear the shaming tone in Luke’s voice. Then, towards the end of the episode, she pulls him aside for a one-on-one conversation about his attitude before the rose ceremony. “The conversation, it didn’t sit well with me,” she explains. Hannah goes through all of Luke’s previously mentioned hostile points and explains why they hurt her. In a powerful moment, she admits that even though the bungee jumping wasn’t sexual, “at this point it doesn’t matter because [Luke’s] not her husband.”
Hannah can and should be as sexual as she wants to be right now, with anyone she deems worthy of that energy.
Since the Bachelorette is right, Luke backtracks and gaslights her into giving him another rose. He claims he would never try to control her body (after an episode of trying to do just that), blames Hannah for “twisting his words” about the Garrett date (she wasn’t), and says repeatedly she “totally misunderstood” him (she didn’t). At the end of the conversation, he floats the possibility Hannah is unable to “totally remember” what he originally said. It’s a chilling conversation — and helps Luke remain for another week.
At this point, our only piece of solace is that unforgettable midseason trailer’s promise that Luke’s full-throated slut-shaming will eventually get him sent home. If only he didn’t need to start talking about “marriage beds” for that to happen.
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