The Slut-Shaming “Bachelorette” Kaitlyn Bristowe Endured Is What Women Online Deal With Every Day

As per usual, the penultimate episode of this season of “The Bachelorette,” which aired last night, had Kaitlyn Bristowe coming face-to-face with the suitors she sent packing over the course of the season. But it also had her sitting across from host Chris Harrison as he read a series of hateful, slut-shaming tweets (watch above) that had been directed at Bristowe after it was revealed mid-way through the season that she had slept with Nick Viall, who is vying for the final rose in next week’s finale.

I personally think you have to be absolutely naive to be surprised about the vitriol Bristowe endured for having sex, given our country’s often puritanical and confusing outlook on female sexuality. While Bristowe eventually expressed regret for sleeping with Nick “too soon,” it was really only because speeding up one relationship negatively impacted the connections she was exploring with her other suitors. Otherwise, Bristowe was unapologetic about owning her own sexuality and the value she rightly places on having a sexual connection in a relationship, and that continued during last night’s “Men Tell All” episode. Kaitlyn decried the online bullying and slut-shaming as “not okay,” saying that it had been “hard” on her otherwise “tough” demeanor, and that she had even received death threats.

I respect Kaitlyn so much for sticking to her guns and refusing to be ashamed for having sex, not just in the face of such rabid hate, but also the more “well-mannered” slut-shaming that she got from guys like Corey and Ian, not to mention Chris Harrison and the “Bachelorette” producers. Yeah, Harrison, I’m not letting your ass off the hook! I will never forget how EVERY SINGLE PROMO this season suggested that Kaitlyn was overwhelmed by guilt for being a slutty slutty slut, when what ACTUALLY caused her the most guilt was telling Shawn he was “the one” off-camera. Chris Harrison may NOW be sitting across from Kaitlyn with that sad puppy dog look in his eyes, “defending” her against cyber bullying, but he ALSO sat across from her earlier this season with a disapproving dad look on his face, guilt-tripping her like crazy. Yes, evil internet windbag losers would still have slut-shamed Kaitlyn for, god forbid, having sex with a guy she was dating like GROWN ASS WOMEN DO, but “Bachelorette” producers and Chris Harrison only encouraged them with their judgmental, bullshit editing.

One final note: the online harassment Kaitlyn endured is what far, far, far too many women deal with EVERY DAMN DAY. Chances are good that if you are woman who writes on the internet or who is active and opinionated on social media, you have probably endured some level of this same type of harassment. I have. So have more women I know than I could possibly count. The slurs and harassment and threats run the gamut, but more often than not, regardless of what I or these other women have “done,” it is either sexual or slut-shaming or about how ugly or fat we are. Just yesterday, I came into work and discovered some random loser had tweeted that I was ugly. That’s nothing compared to what Bristowe has dealt with, but it all comes from the same place — a misogynistic hatred of women. I hope that as Bristowe moves on from this experience, she doesn’t leave it completely in the past, and that she uses what she’s learned to draw further attention to the bullshit hatred women face online.