I don’t watch reality television expecting intellectual stimulation. I enjoy the drama and theatrics of women living a lavish lifestyle that I can’t afford (at least right now). I heartily laugh at the witty one-liners the ladies spew in confessionals. I don’t care if most of it is staged; it’s entertaining as hell. With 2.5 million viewers in its first week, Bravo’s latest show “Blood, Sweat, and Heels” proves I’m not alone. Normally I would find these numbers comforting, but after watching the first two episodes of this show, I’m afraid that people may actually be taking some concerning comments to heart.
Breaking from its usual routine of documenting the lives of bored housewives, Bravo’s latest venture follows around six independently successful women of color. I salute them for that, but unfortunately that’s where the kudos end. On the first episode, the ladies gather for an over-the-top rooftop brunch in Brooklyn. The outing starts off light heartedly; one woman brings sex toys, causing the others to erupt in laughter (PS- if you want some fun goodies you should head to our Love & Sex Issue Release Party at the Museum of Sex). However, once the brunch officially begins the tone changes.
“Do you feel strongly that a woman can rule the world?” host Daisy Lewellyn asks. Attendee Brie Bythewood chimes in, “Men are more stable.” Lewellyn agrees, “I don’t care if you’re a leader or if you’ve never done anything in your life, women are emotional, and that has a lot to do with [getting your] period.” One of the few people who adamantly opposed this viewpoint, Demetria Lucas, was vilified by the show for not only arguing about it so passionately, but for taking the discussion to her well-known blog.
What started out as a show that seemed to empower successful women and inspire young ladies has, yet again, disappointed. To hear women offer up these thoughts are jarring; if we don’t believe in our own power, then who will?
In the following episode, one of the ladies explains that being raised by a strong father has made her believe that a woman should never be stronger or more powerful than a man. She thinks it throws off the power dynamic. Um, are we supposed to hinder our own achievements in order to cater to the egos of the men in our lives?
While I believe that the core ideology of feminism is rotted in allowing women to freely express their opinions and have choices, it is unsettling that an opinion that is harmful to feminism’s progress can be supported and broadcasted to such a large audience. It’s one thing to declare that you don’t think you are capable of asserting a leadership role, but to make a blanket statement that no woman is fit for the job is dangerous.
Some may argue that a guilty pleasure show on Bravo can’t affect society’s mentality, but it subconsciously aids the misconception that women can’t lead and/or don’t deserve equal wages. Despite the clear achievements we have made, the glass ceiling still exists. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that white women still 77 earn cents for every dollar a white man makes (the disparity increases for people/women of color). Extraordinarily successful women aren’t immune either; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is still asked about her husband’s opinions on world issues in conferences, rather than own.
I want to support a show that features ladies of color in power, but not if they don’t support a women’s ability to lead and achieve.
Thanks to Bravo, Essence, Huffington Post, and NY Daily News
Images via Pop Tower, Clutch, and NY Daily News