Yet for every girl who is on a reality show, there are about nine million girls who are not; at least this might open up some discussion about what emotional abuse looks like and how it works, and is overall less damaging to the female gender than, say, Rock of Love, wherein girls are chosen for their ability to conform to super-problematic “skank” stereotypes and then humiliated on camera for all to behold. I can totally see some woman tuning in and being like, “I had planned to laugh at the girls on this show for dating such douchebags… but lo, it is I who am dating an even bigger douchebag than the ones portrayed therein!” Then, in my fantasy, the girl will get some actual therapy and actually dump her abuser instead of STICKING AROUND BECAUSE SHE THINKS SHE HAS THE ABILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY TO CHANGE HIM, OH MY GOD. So, if it can help people in those ways, it is… almost kind of feminist, or feminist-friendly? Wow.
So then they have this other show! It is called Tough Love!
Remember that other show we just watched a part of, wherein the guy talked about using certain standard and universally recognized tactics of emotional abuse (giving and withholding approval depending on how the abused works to serve the abuser’s needs at the expense of his or her own; the abuser dealing out “punishment” disproportionate to the actual behavior of the abused, in order to keep the victim’s emotional stability and happiness contingent on his or her own; “keeping her in line,” and everything that is basically summed up within that phrase)? Well, good news! If you want to learn more about these tactics, you can watch this one douche employ them over and over again, for money, on the very same channel!
Because, you see, the problem with the women on Tough Love is not that they haven’t met the right person yet. The problem with these women is that they are trusting their own instincts, expressing their own priorities and desires, and not basing every single decision in their personal and/or public lives on the necessity to please men, all men, all the time, of which gender (“men,” of course) this one terrible douchebag asshole is the perfect representative. (Dudes are all terrible douchebag assholes, just like him! Or so say dudes who market themselves as “relationship experts” for the ladies, always; were I a dude, I would punch him in the tender vittles for misrepresenting my gender so, but whatevs.) He is therefore going to yell at them and say terrible things about them and encourage other dudes to say the same terrible things about them, and then he is sometimes going to physically administer shocks to them when they fail to please him (“be grateful I’m not your actual boyfriend! Because he would be allowed to punch you,” I imagine him saying quite cheerfully) because we can’t make the abuse parallels any more explicit unless some women are experiencing actual physical pain, and then, once he has entirely broken down their personalities and ruined their self-esteem and they have restructured their entire lives around meeting his bullshit standards, he is going to pat them on the head and call them good little girls. And then it will be time to watch Tool Academy!
This is the portion of Tiger Beatdown in which we learn that the market can never be relied upon to serve feminist values, because where misogyny is a dominant social force it will always be more salable and popular than its opposition. Also, that you maybe do not really need cable.