This week, there were two back-to-back episodes of Bachelor spinoff Bachelor in Paradise, and in last night's episode, the big drama was the possible "threesome" that occurred between Jesse, a very drunk Christy, and Lucy. But what really happened between the three of them? In this op-ed piece, an anonymous viewer argues that this appeared to be date rape and the show's producers purposefully blurred the lines.

I recently watched the infamously misogynistic guilty pleasure TV show Bachelor in Paradise. The Bachelor franchise is known for portraying women in the most negative light possible. The producers use women as tropes of "stage-5 clingers" or "trashy," neither of which should be confused with those who are there for the right reasons — aka to find love!

This show, which is watched primarily by women, does not seem to generate the same ire that other (arguably less) offensive portrayals of women in the media generate. I am guilty of this double standard. I hate Robin Thicke, but I can't get enough of Bachelor Pad.

I have struggled to justify my interest in the show to friends and colleagues. More recently, I have given up in my quest for rationalization and either don't fess up to watching the show or laugh it off as a guilty pleasure.

But last night's episode has provoked me to renounce the show. While I was able to tolerate and even find some humor in caricatures of beautiful single women and their dating faux pas or woes, I cannot laugh at date rape, which is an all too real aspect of young women's dating lives. As many of us know, Title IX is a landmark federal civil rights act that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Passed decades ago and famous for making college sports a reality for female athletes, Title IX has recently been invoked in an effort to address the issue of sexual harassment and sexual violence on college campuses.

The number of young women who are the victims of sexual assault is horrifying (nearly one in five women in a US survey say they have been sexually assaulted). College campuses are being urged now to address this problem head-on. I think we should call on ABC to do the same.

Last night, everyone who tuned in to the second part of a two-day Bachelor in Paradise event saw what appears to have been a date rape.

Of course, it is always unclear what is reality and what is reality editing. For example, one of the characters this season has been shown talking to raccoons. But to the observant eye, it appears that maybe the producers are using the raccoons as payback for her breaking the rules regarding cell phones. When she runs off to have a private conversation via cell phone (not allowed in paradise), the producers edit the scene to show her talking to a raccoon. The editing is sometimes explicit, and other times it is more subtle.

The scenes with women are almost always edited to make them appear "crazier," "clingier," and more unstable than they really are and certainly "crazier" than the men. Even this more subtle editing is probably acknowledged by most viewers who chalk it up to fair play considering these individuals freely signed up for the show.

If the "hookup" scene in question was edited to appear worse than it was, that doesn't make things much better. Either way, the producers seem to have intentionally blurred the lines of this situation. Remember, there are cameras and mics on every cast member. Someone knows what really happened. But instead of dealing with this issue, or perhaps in order to avoid the issue, the producers have obscured an otherwise transparent situation. While these editing decisions may be acceptable for some situations, it is irresponsible to blur the lines in a situation involving alcohol (the most common drug used to commit sexual assault), sex, and questionable consent. The producers have essentially added their voices to the common refrain that women who get drunk deserve what they get.

Let's review the facts (as portrayed by the producers):

  • Jesse brings two bottles of tequila to a group of cast members, serving shots to all of them.
  • Jesse gives a special, and much taller, drink to Christy, with whom he went on a date the night before.
  • Christy drunkenly confronts Jesse to ask him whether he kissed her friend Lucy. Jesse lies and says no.
  • Immediately before the producers cut to the bedroom shot, Christy has an incoherent camera interview where she says "I feel a lot better after speaking with Jesse. Jesse is . . . 100 percent honest, genuine, really good looking, I mean full package, like really good catch. The romance between Jesse and I is like . . . (sigh) . . . I see . . . the little things . . . " [Translation: this girl is extremely drunk.]
  • The scene cuts directly to a "hidden" bedroom night-vision camera that shows Jesse and Christy in bed, nearly naked, kissing and touching.
  • Producers then show Lucy barging in on them in the room with a voice-over explaining "sharing is caring."

The next day, Christy jokes that the night before must have "been a dream." According to the show's rules, now Jesse has to choose between Christy and Lucy. Only one woman can stay. In an effort to get the upper hand, Lucy decides to "scheme against Christy." She approaches Jesse and reports to him that "She [Christy] didn't know it was you when you first came into the room. Last night when you crawled into the bed, she was half asleep and told me that she thought it was me [Lucy] until she felt the beard and she was like 'Lucy doesn't have a beard.'" Jesse feigns outrage: "That's f*cked up." How dare Christy suggest that she was not fully aware of what was going on during their sexual encounter.

In light of the recent collective efforts to address the rampant sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence on college campuses, it is unfortunate that ABC has chosen to treat the question of date rape in this way. The producers seem to have intentionally created ambiguity around the issue. At this point, I find it impossible to continue watching the show. Regardless of what really happened between Christy and Jesse, the show aired a scene that quite possibly could have been a date rape. Watching a man (who called his previous sex partner "what's-her-nuts") crawl into bed with a woman who is drunk, half asleep, and claims to not have known it was him makes for very disturbing and unentertaining television. Watching last night's episode made me feel all guilt and no pleasure. This fan's "journey" is over.