Thoughts On The Bachelorette, Luke P., and Empowering Women

Previously, on The Bachelorette

Actually, that’s pretty much it so far, eh, fellow rose lovers? Ugh, please, Chris Harrison, no *clap* more *clap* recaps. This season’s The Bachelorette has enough substance that it has been extended by a week to allow an entire recap episode. Like many other watchers, I felt last week’s episode was unwanted and unnecessary. Please just give me more Tyler C., and Hannah being authentically herself. I am LIVING for the two of them!

I apologize if you are not a Bachelor/ette fan and will graciously excuse you from reading further into the coming rant. In all honesty, I have not watched the show since Jojo’s season, but when we opted for Hulu this past Spring I figured I might as well watch  Hannah and her beaus on Tuesday mornings while I get ready for the day. I went into this season with no expectations and no knowledge of Hannah “Beast” but WOW… it has been a trip, hasn’t it?

I have never considered giving my guilty pleasure recognition on this blog, but I feel like there’s some real topics needing to be discussed. Specifically, I feel the need to talk about Luke P., Hannah, and the beasts we each may face in relationships.

** Fair warning, there may be spoilers ahead! Please do not continue if you do not want to read any spoilers. 

First off, Luke P., or whom Hannah has officially designated as JUST Luke moving forward. Luke is a beast all in himself. I understand completely that the Bachelorette is a TV show and that producers edit the crapload out of the footage taken in order to find the juiciest drama available. I mean, there is a reason this season has such a high-following — this season truly might be the “most dramatic one” so far. However, even extreme editing could not hide the fact that Luke has some serious issues going on.

Luke is a master manipulator, or as many of my favorite Bach-podcasts label him, he is a master gaslighter. He will make a ridiculous statement, Hannah or one of the other guys will call him out, and he’ll back-track with, “Huh? That’s not what I meant/said.” This cycle happens at least 146,984 times per episode and is so cringe-worthy I sometimes have to fast-forward through his appearances.

For those Luke supporters out there, please listen up. Gaslighting is an abusive behavior where the abuser systematically brainwashes their victim to the point he/she loses his/her own identity. It is a common method used by cult leaders and dictators, but can also be experienced in personal relationships — much like Hannah can be witnessed experiencing on public television.

I understand there are some people out there who think Luke is simply misunderstood. Let me be the one to break it to you: Luke is a gaslighter. I have limited sympathy for abusive behavior, and there have been times watching this season has been triggering for me, so I’m not going to beat around the bush: Luke appears to be an abuser. And Hannah is his (currently) unknowing victim.

Gaslighting can be difficult to recognize from the victim’s perspective. The manipulator is a pathological liar who comes across as incredibly charming. Victims feel guilty for second-guessing their abuser and this confusion is something the gaslighter latches onto and twists to his/her favor. According to ThriveTalk, gaslighting happens in a series of steps: Lying, Denial, Use of Love, Loss of Identity, and Confusion being a few. Do any of these sound familiar with our own little Lukey P?

The evidence for Luke’s behavior spans the course of all seven episodes so far. Luke has been caught in a number of lies directly by the other suitors, all of which he promptly denies to Hannah or to them in order to curve support for him. He uses Hannah’s adoration of religious faith to twist their relationship. He has caused her to question her sanity multiple times. And He strings Hannah along with their  physical attraction to one another with the promise that he has more to offer her than just his good looks.

Unfortunately, Luke has nothing more to offer Hannah (or any other girl at the moment) than a severe form of mental and emotional abuse. I am not sure if Luke is an actual psychopath as the other men claim, but he is definitely a narcissist with an edge of violent tendencies. I won’t go into an in-depth discussion of each occurrence, but we’ve all witnessed his reactions and patterns of thinking on the show long enough to have considerable evidence for this statement.

Yet, that does not mean Luke is beyond redemption. I like to think no one is beyond redemption, and that watching yourself on television probably is a very enlightening experience. My hope is that Luke takes this opportunity to reflect on his behavior and grow from it into a better person.

Perhaps viewing his actions on such a public platform will be rewarding for Luke.

Perhaps he’ll move forward and find ways to better himself.

Perhaps he’ll take the critique he’s receiving and use it for positive growth.

No one is a helpless cause, Luke, so take this experience and learn from it — we’re still rooting for a good outcome in your future.

Now… I could go on and on about Luke, but I would rather change the topic and focus on our queen: Hannah. I am invested in this season completely due to Hannah and how refreshingly raw she is throughout the show. I would be proud to call Hannah my friend.

One thing I love about Hannah is that she is honest. I won’t pretend to understand the difficulties behind being a lead on the Bachelorette, but after watching Jojo’s season, I was so turned off by the lack of emotion Jojo seemed to have with her suitors. It was obvious Jojo and Jordan were going to be the endgame from Episode 1. But with Hannah, she truly wants to know more about each guy she is forming a relationship. (Sidenote, it both broke my heart and made my heart soar when Hannah thanked Dylan for sharing something personal with her when he did not receive the rose this week.) She asks a lot from her men, but she also gives all of herself to them — even if that might be a depressed or anxious version. She’s human and real, and I am loving it.

I would not want to find love on such a public platform, but I cannot deny that Hannah is giving the show her all. She wants to find love, and she is open to not settling for anything she does not see as her future. And as she struggles to find The Real Thing, Hannah is 100% relatable. I’ve lost count at how many times she has said, “I’m not perfect, and I don’t expect you to be either.” She embraces her flaws. She speaks out about her insecurities. She’s emotional. She’s intense. She’s quirky and endearing and can’t create a toast to save her life. Some of my favorite Hannah Moments have been when she blurts out exactly what is on her mind, expletives included.

I have read some very demeaning criticism of Hannah. I’m not going to touch on the religious debate or the Jed conspiracy in this post. That’s not what I am here to discuss. But I would like to say that I disagree with anyone saying she is handling Luke incorrectly. To me, I believe Hannah is dealing with this situation in the same fashion anyone else would, me included.

Hannah is not a psychiatrist or psychologist, meaning she is not actively considering the mental capacities of each of her suitors 24/7 . She is not omnipresent or omniscient, meaning she is not in every location as Luke to hear every word and phrase he has to say. Instead, Hannah is human. A very beautiful, sensual human. She was obviously attracted to Luke in Episode 1, and she has since verified that attraction multiple times. She also has been lied to by Luke on multiple occasions and gaslighted by him. We at home witness these situations, but Hannah is the one they are happening to — without edits and without time to read tweets, see memes, or even meditate on his words. No, Hannah is having to figure Luke out organically, which can be a lengthy process.

What’s more is that Hannah has put Luke in his place more than once. She told him point-blank that their one-on-one was the worst date she’d ever experienced and that she did not feel their relationship was on-track. It is easy for viewers to not agree with Hannah’s decision to keep Luke around, but I can sympathize with her situation. She likes the guy physically and he says a lot of great things to swoon her — how many of us have been in that kind of situation? I definitely have, and it is easy to see the manipulation — in retrospect.

Even further to the point, Hannah has been upfront with the other men concerning Luke. She’s asked them to allow her to figure out her feelings on her own and to stay in their own lanes. I personally love that Hannah is willing to set things straight out in the open, and to remind her guys that she is the focus of the show, not Luke. Hannah addresses issue head-on. I appreciate her for that and believe production airing this footage is empowering for women to watch.

In the past, the Bachelorette has been a guilty pleasure of mine that allowed for mindless viewing. Hannah’s season, though, I feel like there could be real benefit for females to watch. Does Hannah have meltdowns? Yes. Does Hannah and the men sometimes make questionable decisions? Yes.

BUT!

Who wouldn’t have occasional meltdowns under the immense pressure of being the Bachelorette? Who doesn’t make mistakes and odd life-choices from time-to-time? Who doesn’t question their feelings and doubt themselves sometimes? All of us would and all of us do. Personally, this season is the best form of reality television to me, because  it is real. It is authentic. And it could possibly make a lasting impact on the franchise’s future…

To me, Hannah’s real and raw approach is something that should be celebrated. I want her emotional, honest self to be impacting to other women. There is no need for us to hide our feelings, ladies. We as women are deeply emotional beings. We want good out of our lives. We want to feel good. We want to love good. We want to experience everything 110%.

And there is nothing wrong with those wants. 

Just as there is nothing wrong with embracing your sexuality, having an emotional breakdown, calling out a man’s double standard, or struggling to figure out Life.

I want to see more publications praising Hannah for her emotional intelligence. I want to hear more podcasts talking about what Hannah is saying right. I want to read more about how other woman could change relationship standards by speaking up, speaking out, and asserting themselves. Less about Hannah’s infatuation of Luke, less of other contestants’ exes, less criticism on Hannah’s mistakes. I want MORE focus on how an emotionally raw human has become The Queen of this highly-watched franchise.

Perfection is not necessary.

Doubt is relatable.

Regret happens.

As the third best man in the world said (G is #1 and my dad #2):

Keep on fighting, ladies,

 

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