We have finally docked on this toxic season of Below Deck, and they could fill an ocean with champagne and it still wouldn’t be enough to celebrate coming to the end of this mess.
There’s really not much left to say about the stupidity, except that the guys have learned nothing. As Courtney Skippon so eloquently explained (how on earth did casting miss that she was smart and go on to hire her?) about misogyny it’s not simply hating women, it’s putting women down for behaving in ways you think are reserved for men. This manifested in Brian de Saint Pern deciding Courtney had no right to share her opinions and should stay out of ‘mens bidnezz.’ Or Ashton Pienaar deciding he could shove his tongue down Kate Chastain‘s throat, because all she’s worth is an item to satisfy him, not his equal rank in running an entity of a super yacht.
Misogyny is also: A long-winded rambling apology for sexually assaulting, physically threatening, and verbally harassing your female co-worker, then peppering that apology with “buts” about how you were also provoked and should be given chances to explain your behaviors. That’s Ashton!
Sure, Ashton apologized – on paper – for the way he treated Kate, and it was even a nice-sounding apology, except he’s still not TAKING ACCOUNTABILITY. Taking accountability is not going to therapy once the week before you’re going on TV. Taking accountability is not crying to your mom about being naughty, allowing her to slap you on the hand, then believing this demonstrates that you have a healthy appreciation for women. Getting along with women in your personal life is not the same thing as working WITH women without seeing them as women. Taking accountability is also not quitting drinking because, alcohol is obviously the problem, not you.
OK, well given Ashton’s proclivity for getting black-out wasted then needing to fuck everything in sight, ditching the booze was probably a very wise decision.
Misogyny is Kevin Dobson apologizing for kicking sand at Kate, but insisting he only did it because she was mean to him knowing he was already very drunk. Is Kevin 30 or 3? Is Kevin a parent or a child? Is Kevin a run of the mill douchebag or worse? Whatever the case Kevin sucks. I was rooting for him the last episode when he seemed contrite for his treatment of Kate all season, but last night he, once again, reinforced why we can’t stand him. Kevin, like Ashton, will not accept responsibility for his actions. Which is why Kevin, like Ashton, will not change their behaviors.
As Kate mentioned, Ashton’s crying ‘boo-hoo I’m sorry’ tears here at the reunion, in front of Andy Cohen, but on the After Show and in countless interviews he’s defended his actions as being only alcohol-related, or fueled by disrespect from Kate or Rhylee Gerber. Sure, Ashton also had arguments with Tanner Sterback or Brian, but was he so enraged by those disagreements that he punched a window? No. Because those arguments stayed in the professional realm because Ashton kept them there, they did not cross over into the personal (i.e. after-work sphere), because Ashton doesn’t feel emotionally triggered by bickering with male co-workers. That’s because a woman should be seen serving dinner, serving men, and not criticizing them, especially in the workplace. Ergo stay in your lane, and your lane is pink, sparkly, covered in flowers and smiling unicorns, and leading straight to unzipping Ashton’s pants.
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If Kate had never offered a critique of Ashton’s management style, and kept her opinions related to the interior – you know where women belong – he probably wouldn’t have been bothered.
Likewise, it’s acceptable for men to be reactionary. It’s societally acceptable for men to need to blow off steam. It’s not socially acceptable for women to be combative and overly-aggressive. It’s Abbi Murphy vs. Rhylee Gerber. Abbi definitely stood up for herself and took herself out of a situation she was unhappy with, but she was also apologetic about her mistakes, took redirection well, and din’t complain to the guys about feeling undervalued. Abbi handled her frustrations in a women-appropriate way. Maybe Abbi’s personality is naturally more low-key – it certainly seems like she is lightyears more zen than Rhylee, and that’s the difference?
Of course, the problem with Rhylee is that often her very legitimate complaints about mistreatment and sexism are overshadowed by everyone else’s very legitimate complaints that she is disrespectful, has inappropriate workplace boundaries (Screaming at your boss anyone?) and can’t take criticism – even when it’s solely devoted to workplace safety and need, and totally warranted. Like when Ashton tried to educate both Rhylee and Tanner on how to tie some knot. Rhylee chalks this up to her being “reactionary,” but the thing is, male or female – that’s NOT appropriate at work. As Kate said, both Ashton and Rhylee were part of the problem, and that’s why Captain Lee Rosbach will not work with either of them again.
Ashton certainly had baggage about being forced to work with Rhylee which was warranted based on what he experienced the previous season in how she interacted with Ross Inia and Chandler Brooks. Chandler was a crap boson, but nobody could say that about Ross. Warning the rest of the team that Rhylee is impossible, then corralling them behind a coup to fire her, TOTALLY INSANE AND BAD MANAGEMENT. Openly blaming Rhylee for a failed fishing expedition and complaining to Captain Lee: TOTALLY INSANE AND BAD MANAGEMENT. I mainly blame production for inserting Rhylee into the situation purely because they expected her to cause chaos.
The big question of the reunion was: Why didn’t Captain Lee do something about all the disgusting behavior happening on board? It turns out he didn’t know. None of the crew complained, therefore he had no idea that was happening. Kevin and Ashton immediately call bull shit on this and actually accuse Captain Lee of not doing his job by ignoring it, or being so removed from the interworking of the crew, that he didn’t notice. Maybe he was too busy running the boat?
On some level I agree that Captain Lee should’ve taken stock of incidents such as Kate (someone he’s known almost a decade) walking off the boat in the middle of the night, or the guys banding together to get Rhylee fired, or even Kevin fucking up so many dinners as a sign that something was seriously amiss in the crew department, then doing a Captain Sandy-like intervention, but it is in no way Ashton or Kevin’s place to call him out and claim they could do better. Really? Cause you failed big time and created this mess! Like Courtney pointed out, they were the trouble-makers who blamed the recipients of the borrowed trouble for reacting to it. Calling Kate a bitch every time she has an opinion you don’t like is the very definition of misogyny.
Captain Lee admitted that watching the season and seeing all the black-out drunken nights from the guys, followed by the postmortems struggles to remember and excuse their behavior was appalling. If he had known Ashton had sexually assaulted Kate, he would’ve been fired immediately. Kate blames a collective group-think from the guys as the reason their mistreatment of the women grew so insidious. Which is an interesting point. It could explain why Abbi didn’t feel she received that same treatment – no one had been on board long enough for it to fester. Of course, all the guys will blame Rhylee for cultivating that change in negativity.
Similarly, Brian didn’t seem, on-face value, to be that way, but the longer he participated in the bruhs-cruise, the worse and more sexist his behavior became. What a fascinating psychological study of how the behaviors of groups of men continue to undervalue and undercut women’s worth, including in the political spectrum where laws are repeatedly passed to insinuate that women, and ‘their work’ is less-than. Maternity rights in America is a major indication of this, and I’m not taking contraception so much as maternity leave and workplace attitudes toward parenting or childcare expenses.
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Simone Mashile also felt that she was exempt from sexist treatment, but she reasons that it’s probably because she largely kept her opinions to herself. Simone already felt at a disadvantage by being a woman of color in an industry skewed towards Caucasian homogeny, and worries about being portrayed as a stereotypical ‘Angry Black Woman,’ so she refrained from speaking up in many instances. After her issues with Kate, however, Simone has learned that she needs to assert herself and go directly to her superior instead of complaining behind their backs. I really appreciated Simone at the reunion and wish we had seen more of this woman on the show. Perhaps Simone got off lucky being trapped in the laundry room?
Eventually, Lee gets so frustrated he walks off set for a break from the bruhs. Lee couldn’t take it for a few hours, but unfortunately, that was exactly the sort of atmosphere the women were dealing with for most of the season! I also call this ‘Pulling A Kate‘ – aka getting so frustrated and disgusted with the excuses, nonsense, and disrespect the only sane reaction is to just bounce.
Misogyny is also men expecting that women will readily forgive and overlook their heinous behavior as ‘guys being guys.’ Like when Andy closed the reunion by asking if the crew would go out for drinks afterwards as a united group. Brian wanted to, being hopeful that he and Courtney could end as friends, but Courtney cut him off to explain that she has no interest in a friend who speaks to her so disrespectfully, and Brian just stared at her in response. He literally was surprised that she was serious. Of course, he was.
TELL US – DO YOU THINK THE BRUHS WILL LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES? DO YOU WANT ANY OF THE CREW MEMBERS TO RETURN NEXT SEASON?
[Photo Credits: Bravo]