ABC makes a spectacle out of Bachelor Colton Underwood’s virginity.
Colton Underwood is a virgin. But you know that. Everyone knows that. On this season of The Bachelor, ABC seems to be frothing at the fact that Colton is a virgin. They mentioned it 24 times in the first week and another 16 in the second. The bachelorettes, the public, and Chris Harrison are all shocked that Colton, the 26-year-old ex-NFL player with a body that’s been sculpted by the gods, has never had sex. But is his untouched penis the only thing that he’s defined by?
According to ABC it is. They have branded Colton Underwood as “The Virgin Bachelor,” making this small part of his identity, his entire identity. Even Jimmy Kimmel perpetuates this construction. Kimmel plays a skit with Colton named “Jimmy Kimmel Teaches Virgin Bachelor Colton the Birds and the Bees”. The title in itself names Colton as “the virgin” as if he’s nothing but that. In this skit, Colton is made to appear infantile and pathetic.
ABC released advertisements spoofing the poster of The 40 Year Old Virgin. This ad makes Colton look dorky as if the cause of this is his virginity. The cut-line of the poster is “what does he have to lose?” It’s probably his dignity. The Bachelor has aired countless jokes regarding his chastity, like when a bachelorette played a card game where she stole his “v-card,” or when another popped a red balloon in front of him, symbolizing her popping his cherry. So, what’s the result of all of this? The Bachelor has made Colton to be a spectacle – an anomaly. ABC might as well throw him in a cage and put him next to the monkeys in the zoo. He’s become the butt of a joke that isn’t even funny.
The show feeds off of the impossibility that someone like Colton could be a virgin. But why is it so impossible? The reason is gender stereotypes. Society expects men to have sexual experience from a young age. This expectation is reinforced in certain contexts, especially, for example, in a locker room. In an interview with Chris Harrison, Colton recounts the football locker room talks where members of his team would glorify the “triumphs” of their sex lives. These conversations instilled shame in Colton, causing him to believe his virginity made him “less of a man.” The Bachelor certainly perpetuates this stigma by portraying Colton as a sexless oddity.
Colton is not “less of a man” for choosing to wait. He is not a spectacle or a zoo animal. And he is not defined by his virginity. Hey ABC, leave the man alone! It’s his body and his choice and he should not be disrespected for it.