The Gendered Self-Help Reel: How Romantic Comedies Instruct Women on Dating Dos and Don’ts

  • Melissa Ames
  • Sarah Burcon


On 22 June 2015, the Twitterverse erupted when ABC’s latest ‘bach-elorette’ had sex with one of her male suitors prior to the show’s pre-approved, pre-scripted timeline. Far from being a PG-rated reality TV program, the long-running show is well known for broadcasting a slew of make-out sessions and an entire episode devoted to speculating on whether the bachelor or bachelorette will have sex with any or all of his or her final three contestants in the fantasy suite. Yet when an episode aired revealing that Kaitlyn Bristowe, the show’s star, and repeat contestant, Nick Viall, had slept together at the close of their one-on-one date, Bristowe faced a wave of criticism from fans through social media. Over 70,000 tweets with the hashtag #TheBachelorette appeared in the 24 hours surrounding this episode and a vast majority of them were negative posts consisting of judgmental quips and derogatory slurs focusing on Bristowe’s sexual activity.1 These tweeters, the majority of whom were female, were quick to affix all the normal labels used to discuss so-called female promiscuity. Among the tamer tweets were chastising posts like this one: ‘Kaitlyn needs to learn how to keep it classy & not so trashy #TheBachelorette.’2


Gender Stereotype Sexual Double Standard Protestant Work Ethic Happy Ending Fictional Narrative 
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Copyright information

© Melissa Ames and Sarah Burcon 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa Ames
    • 1
  • Sarah Burcon
    • 2
  1. 1.Eastern Illinois UniversityUSA
  2. 2.University of MichiganUSA

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