The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

These Sluts And Poofs Are Ruining Our Wholesome Reality Television Shows

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 3, 2008

I haven’t yet watched The Farmer Wants A Wife (the ridiculously patriarchal title and concept may have something to do with it…) but I have looked upon the farmers in the Women’s Weekly, and naturally read about them in all the pre-show media hype drummed up by poor old Channel Nine. And wouldn’t you know it, now there’s been a “scandal” – one of the ‘wives’ has been revealed to have posed nude prior to entering the show, once this year (for AbbyWinters.comNSFW – apparently) and previously for People.

My instinctual reaction is “who cares, it’s her body and her life”, but the slut-shaming reaction from the Daily Telegraph and the always reliable Australian Family Association has been pretty depressing:

Monique is not the first reality television contestant to have a dubious background. Big Brother‘s pint-sized belly dancer Rima appeared naked in an online shoot this year, and Gladiators challenger Sam Brodie was revealed to have posed for a gay porn website.

Australian Family Association national spokeswoman Angela Conway said casting agencies needed to take more responsibility.

“More responsibility” for what? To ensure that those bloody poofters, dwarves and whores don’t get a chance to appear on national television and expose their “dubious” backgrounds?

It’s hard to pick what the worst aspect of this “story” is. There’s the intensely judgmental headline, “Farmer wants a wife …but may get porn model”. There’s the implication that Monique is somehow “using” Farmer Nick by pursuing him via the show, when there’s no mention of the fact that the farmers themselves are using the female contestants in some sort of potential-wife prize-fight (and as we know, only one of the previous season’s farmers actually did end up with a wife). And then there’s the show itself, which takes the very real issues of rural male loneliness (you need only watch this video clip of last year’s farmer Chris to see how much having met someone means to him) and women longing for a partner, and turns it into an ultra-competitive spectacle for ‘the other half’ to gawp at.

The hypocrisy in these instances is out of control when you consider that it’s more or less an accepted career path for young women to enter Big Brother and exit the house into the warm embrace of a lads’ mag shoot, but it seems that if women (and gay men) decide to take charge of their own sexual identity and express it in a way that suits them – rather than a way that is airbrushed, objectified and geared towards heterosexual male pleasure – they better watch out.

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