Chris Harrison Weighs in on Bachelor Nation’s ‘Double Standard’

Chris Harrison on the strip dodgeball date

ABC/Craig Sjodin Clare Crawley and Chris Harrison appear on the season's strip dodgeball group date.

Weeks after the public outcry over a game of strip dodgeball during Clare Crawley’s time as the Bachelorette, Chris Harrison is weighing in on what many on social media have called a double standard. Fans and alum of the franchise took to social media to criticize a game of strip dodgeball which saw most of the winning team get completely naked.

“Is there a double standard? Would we have done that to the women? No, I’ll tell you that right now, no. Because that’s not okay,” Harrison said on Better Together with Maria Menounos. “Is it a double standard? Yes. Should there be double standards in the world? Maybe, in some cases, maybe there should be.”

On Thursday’s episode of the podcast, Harrison was asked by On Air Producer Jeffrey Graham about what he perceived as a focus on the sexualization of this season’s men, in particular during the strip dodgeball game. Harrison spoke about the potential double standard, crediting the show for sparking debates while placing some of the onus on this season’s setting and the date’s participants.

“We would all just love to say, ‘no it should be the same for everybody, you treat this person the same,’ but that’s not life. That’s not real,” he said. “That’s something you can say on a bumper sticker or safely say on Twitter, but it’s not real life. That’s not how the world spins.”

Harrison elaborated on the circumstances that led to the date, saying, “I think a lot of this had to do with where we were and the situation. We were in Palm Springs, it was 150 degrees, we could only have so many dates even outside. It was so bloody hot and so we were very limited in what we could do.” Given the COVID-19 pandemic, travel was not an option so this season filmed entirely in a quarantined bubble at the La Quinta Resort and Club near Palm Springs.

Harrison continued discussing the date, saying, “One thing I love about the show is it does push those boundaries and it pushes those debates and those, those levels of normalcy for what’s right and wrong.” Many fans took offense to the date, even calling it sexual harassment, pointing particular blame on then-lead Crawley.

“How far is Clare going to take this? What is she going to say? Will she actually make them do it?” the long-time host of the franchise continued. “She was the one saying, ‘Take off your shorts.’ or at any moment she could have said, ‘Okay that’s enough. We had fun.’”

Though, the men also had a part to play. “It’s incumbent upon the guys to have their own sense of who they are and say no,” said Harrison, noting one of the participants refused to strip completely down and received no ill will. “Uh, Kenny, Blake, all those guys, could not get naked fast enough. And Kenny, who has no tan lines, which sadly I know now…”

Crawley Responded to the Criticism on Twitter

In a since-deleted tweet, one Twitter user wrote, “It’s awful you had the guys take off their clothes in The bachelor asked the women do the same things all heck would break loose. You were wrong. Juan Pablo should have had you strip.”

Fans of the franchise will recall Crawley first appeared on Juan Pablo Galavis’ season, famously telling him, “I thought I knew what kind of man you were. What you just made me go through, I would never want my children having a father like you.” During his season, Galavis hosted a dog adoption date where his contestants each had a themed photoshoot with the dogs. One of the photos saw Lucy Aragon and future Bachelorette Andi Dorfman don only nude-colored underwear for their photo.

Crawley shared that photo in response, writing, “You mean like this?” She also liked a tweet blaming production for the date.

Fans Were Quick to Call out the Date’s ‘Double Standard’

Viewers of The Bachelorette’s second episode this season were quick to react when they saw ten men on a group date divide up into a blue and red team. Each player had a matching outfit, which included a color-coordinated jockstrap. After the blue team lost, they stood in a line and most of them removed the last remaining article of clothing before walking back naked.

Piper Elrod tweeted her reaction to the date, writing, “imagine if #TheBachelor made a few of his women contestants strip down NAKED as punishment…he would be DRAGGED for the sexual exploitation…but there’s no double standards with men.”

The Bach Bracket account now weighed in, tweeting “Gonna go ahead & firmly state my general dislike of all ‘strip’ dates because they make something that should feel empowering (being naked in front of someone you like!) into something forced, vulnerable, & potentially embarrassing.”

One Twitter user, Cami, called out her perceived hypocrisy from Crawley. “Clare: ‘Coming on here for my looks only?? How dare you?’ Also Clare: Boys! Get naked and play dodgeball!” she wrote.

The criticism was not restricted to fans, as a former winner, J.P. Rosenbaum called the date sexist. He wrote, “I realize this “date” is gonna have a lot of critics, but can you imagine the flak the show would get if this was #Thebachelor and the girls were stripping down to their underwear?”

Some viewers did come to Crawley’s defense, calling out production’s role and drawing comparisons to former dates, such as a lingerie pillow fight on Peter Weber’s season of The Bachelor.

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