Brow Beat

Why Did The Bachelorette Censor Random Anatomical Words During Its Absurd Sex Ed Segment?    

Joshua, showing us how tampons work on   The Bachelorette.

ABC, still taken from Hulu.

Last night’s The Bachelorette has gotten flak for its weirdly sensationalized “Brokeback Bachelor” plot, in which it tried to convince us that two of the suitors were falling in love with each other. But the episode was notable for another, perhaps even more surprising segment: Kaitlyn Bristowe forced her suitors to teach sex ed. When the men arrived at an elementary school for a group date, they probably had a lot of scenarios in mind that didn’t involve explaining menstruation, condoms, and the clitoris to a classroom full of kids. (This turned out, of course, to be a group of child actors. SURPRISE!) Kaitlyn described making them teach sex ed to children as the perfect “way of separating the men from the boys.”

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Of all the contestants, you really gotta feel for red-headed welder Joshua, who must explain what girls experience during puberty. “I’m screwed,” he declares pitifully. (To be fair, he also says he learned about anatomy and sex stuff from watching cows, so kudos for not trying to milk anyone during his presentation, I guess.) But even as he laughs and sweats his way through the Talk, and says tampons are “like a little torpedo” that girls “will actually insert,” it’s hard not to notice that ABC is going censor-crazy.

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The cross section Joshua uses to demonstrate a tampon being inserted gets blacked out with a censorship bar. Once again: The act of inserting a tampon into a medically accurate cross section of a plastic vagina is apparently too hot for network TV.

Ben H., who is tasked with explaining how sex works, is far and away the smoothest of the bunch. Not only does he give a reasonably accurate explanation of how sex works mechanically, he also turns his demonstration into a dance of seduction.

“In the beginning, two people fall in love,” he says. “They can do that in many ways.” He proceeds to invite her up to the front of the class to play the “egg” so he himself can play the sperm. It’s a story as romantic as a Disney movie, but then: “When the sperm is BLEEP out of the BLEEP … [babies happen].” One can only assume the words we’re looking for here are “ejaculated,” and “penis.”

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I get it. Network standards are network standards. But it was hard not to feel like ABC’s decision of what to censor was deeply, hilariously arbitrary. Producers essentially gathered a class of kids (tiny professionally trained actors or not), told them all about sex, and then made the adult audience play anatomical Mad Libs in the name of “decency.”

The kicker: If you look at the background, an anatomical chart on the wall appears to be blacked out. Apparently, even the classroom set ABC designated for this purpose was too scandalous for broadcast. Is it any wonder that grown American men cite cows and “nudie magazines,” in floppy-haired realtor Ryan B.’s case, as the source of their sexual knowledge?

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Poor Ryan B.’s attempt to explain female anatomy was probably the most telling. In attempting to explain lady parts, Ryan B. listed the vagina, the bladder, the vagina again, and the butt. The rest is still a mystery.

At one point, a kid in the audience raised his hand and asked: “I’ve heard the word BLEEEEP used before. What is that?” And then Ryan B. soldiered through a solid 24 seconds of explaining that this particular anatomical part was what made girls “want to have sex with you again.” “If you want girls to like you, you should know where that is,” Ryan offered.

Alas, he never actually managed to point it out. I assume he was talking about the clitoris. Thanks to ABC, it’s hard to know for sure.

An ABC representative declined to comment on the specific censorship choices made in this Bachelorette episode.

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