Why We Need To Be Talking About Bryce’s Behaviour On MAFS

Even if you don’t watch Married At First Sight, it’s likely you’ve heard of the drama unfolding in this year’s latest season of contestants looking for love (or 15-minutes of fame, which seems to be just as big a motivator for getting onto the show). Each year, the dinner parties prove controversial, and the inevitable cheating scandals that emerge are – as always – riveting TV drama. The same can’t be said for 2021, though. 

We thought we’d seen it all as far as MAFS was concerned, but this year’s drama has been far too explosive and, in light of recent marches held around the world as women stand up for equality and justice, you have to wonder if there’s even a place for such television anymore. Rather than portray a behaviour or attitude that we can aspire to, it seems to only reinforce the turmoil and harassment women around the world experience daily. 

What we saw on MAFS last night was evidence of such, with Bryce Ruthven forcing a kiss on Bec Zemek’s cheek midway through an argument. For those who have no idea who anyone on the show is, Bryce has most definitely been this year’s villain. He’s left his partner, Melissa, feeling isolated in the experiment from the rest of the group and constantly seems to display gaslighting behaviour. It’s hard to believe a man this toxic was allowed on the show, or why Melissa continues to defend him to such passionate degrees. 

The drama between Bryce and Bec has continued to escalate ever since Bec revealed to the group that Bryce (allegedly) has a secret girlfriend outside the experiment. We’ve seen him complaining about Bec upsetting his wife repeatedly, suggesting that her issues stem from her being romantically interested in him. 

Last night, things came to a head when, during an argument, Bryce walked up to Jake (Bec’s “husband”) and tried to shake his hand, “crowning” him the King of the Experiment. He then walked up to Bec to crown her Queen, but instead of shaking her hand he forcibly kissed her on the cheek while she yelled at him to get off her. 

It was tough to watch for more than just the cringe factor or annoyance of Bryce hogging camera time. How many women can say they’ve had their personal space invaded, that even despite protesting or telling someone else that you aren’t interested, they still continue to disrespect your privacy and space. And how many women can attest to having their bodies touched without permission, or their space being dominated by a man, one who uses his body to intimidate them? The sad reality is that a majority of us can say yes to any and all of the above. That so many men don’t even consider this an invasion of a woman’s personal space is alarming, as Bryce’s actions show just how ingrained in society such behaviour has become. 

Last night, despite physically and verbally indicating she did not want to be touched, Bryce ignored Bec completely and invaded her space. Despite treating her husband with respect, this went out the window when he turned to Bec, essentially seeing her space as fair game. He’s continued to suggest she’s into him, believing her criticism of his behaviour to be nothing more than some perverse form of negging. And all that indicates is how deeply problematic Bryce’s behaviour is and how it mirrors that of countless males around the world. 

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