‘Survivor 43:’ Justine Brennan on How Sexism Played a Role in Her Elimination

Justine Brennan smiling

CBS Justine Brennan in "Survivor 43."

Last night’s episode of “Survivor 43” saw the second person eliminated from the season after a bewildering return of the Beware advantage in a new form: Vesi tribe member Cody Assenmacher would lose his vote unless he convinced each of his tribemates to willingly give him certain decorative beads they possessed. He was able to do so, and in turn send the stunned Justine Brennan home.

Since her elimination, Justine has shed some light on what really went down behind-the-scenes at the Vesi tribe, and revealed why she believes there might have been a bit of gender bias in her tribemates’ targeting of her.

Jesse Lopez Was Really Playing Both Sides

Survivor 43 Vesi Tribe

CBSThe Vesi tribe in “Survivor 43:” (L-R) Dwight Moore, Nneka Ejere, Cody Assenmacher, Noelle Lambert, Jesse Lopez, and Justine Brennan.

In her exit interview with EW, Justine spoke about what happened at the Vesi camp in her final days which the edit did not show; namely, how strongly her tribemate Jesse Lopez was playing both sides.

Although the edit portrayed Jesse as closest with Cody and Nneka Ejere (with whom he voted to eliminate Justine), the reality is that he pretended to be much closer to Justine and her ally Noelle Lambert a lot more than was shown. “Jesse was also coming to me [and] Noelle and saying, ‘Okay, Cody and Nneka are saying this,” Justine said. “And he was really strategizing with us to a point where I thought I was safe.”

She added that she was upset this wasn’t included in the edit, as it could have really shone some light as to why she was so trusting of him. “I wanted to trust Jesse,” she explained. “I knew in the back of my mind that I couldn’t, and you can kind of see that in internal battle with me in my confessional last night.”

She added that it “stung” to see how Jesse spoke about her behind her back. She explained:

It stung a little bit to see Jesse say that the person he least jived with on our tribe was me. … Jesse was a really endearing and sweet person out there and I was like, ‘You know what? I actually like this guy. I can see myself building trust for him. I’m just not completely there yet.’ And so yeah, it stung a little bit that he didn’t feel the same way with me.

How Justine Sees Gender Bias in Her Elimination

Justine Brennan smiling

CBSJustine Brennan in “Survivor 43.”

Justine was also not afraid to speak about about how she believes gender bias played a role in her elimination. As she said in EW, “there definitely is a gender bias on ‘Survivor,’ and I think everyone knows that.”

In her exit interview with Parade, Justine highlighted how she was shown as a threat because of her ability to make fire, which she didn’t do much to hide. However, it was quite the opposite on Baka, where Mike Gabler and Sami Layadi were praised for their firemaking abilities.

“You don’t see people reacting to them being like, ‘Oh, you guys showed your cards too early’,” she said. “But that’s the reaction that it has been for me. Or they’re like, ‘Oh, why do you make fire?’ Someone has to make fire, or else we’re not going to have fire out here!”

She added that “it’s a bummer that, in the game of ‘Survivor,’ for a woman specifically, that can be the death sentence for you.” Of course, Justine is not the first to highlight a gender bias in “Survivor;” the consecutive wins of Erika Casupanan and Maryanne Oketch in “Survivor 41” and “42” came off the heels of six male winners in a row, and both have been unafraid to discuss how gender played a role in their games, and in the game of “Survivor” at large. It remains to be seen how this popular topic of discussion will impact the rest of “43.”

“Survivor 43” airs Wednesdays 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

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