Married at First Sight may be breaking audience records but fans, feminists and even one of the show’s experts say the most recent controversy has finally broken the boundaries of good taste.
On Tuesday night’s episode of the Nine smash hit, the ‘grooms’ openly discussed which of the ‘wives’ they would like to sleep with.
Usual suspect Dean Well offered up wife Tracey Jewel to other contestants, pleading with the other men to say they wanted to “bang” her.
“What about Tracey, guys? She’s hot,” he asked to hoots of laughter from the other men.
“Can someone just say they want to bang Tracey? Please.”
John Robertson was visibly uncomfortable with Dean hawking Tracey around: “He’s offering his wife about freely, Jesus.”
On Wednesday’s dinner party episode, Dean denied his comments. Asked if he had “offered Tracey up”, he said: “No, I did not. That is disgusting.
“I think Tracey is amazing and I was surprised no one chose her as second choice. Screw you.”
Dean further defended himself: “I’m all about gender equality. I’ve been a feminist my whole life. But I’m also a man. I don’t apologise for being a man.”
See the controversial scene below:
Melbourne University gender studies lecturer Hannah McCann regularly watches Married at First Sight, and “given the sexism laced into the dynamics of the show, I wasn’t at all surprised”, she told The New Daily of the wife-swapping conversation.
“Concerned and interested, but not surprised.”
Dr McCann said while “there’s a sense of progress with women’s rights, activism means we’re in a different place”, a sense of misogyny “keeps coming” out in the show.
“John commented to the camera something like, ‘They shouldn’t talk about women’s wives like that’ and even though it came from a place of wanting to defend the women, that in itself comes from seeing women as property of someone else.”
She called the show “a train wreck waiting to happen”.
The latest derailment started when Troy Delmege initiated a discussion about wife-swapping during a ‘boys’ night’.
Dean said “judging solely on looks” he would go for Carly Bowyer – who is ‘married’ to reported millionaire Justin Fischer – while Justin himself admitted to finding Troy’s wife Ashley Irvin attractive.
Asked if he would wife swap, Justin said: “I would not disrespect the girls, but I’d be open to it.”
Groom Patrick Miller protested at the subject and the disapproval wasn’t limited to other Married at First Sight contestants.
WOMEN ARE NOT OBJECTS TO BE COMMODIFIED AND TRADED. WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS. That a group of grown men are talking this way, knowing they are being filmed for national tv, means they are proud of their behaviour. This is why we need #MeToo #mafs
— Rosie Waterland (@RosieWaterland) March 6, 2018
“This is toxic masculinity in action, on national television. It’s important for people to see,” writer Rosie Waterland wrote.
Tweeted viewer Sarah Anderson: “Women aren’t trophies or trading cards. I’m feeling really angry on behalf of all women. That is how men speak about women when they are in front of the cameras. Now just imagine what they would actually say if no one was around.”
On Tuesday, Patrick told The Fix the boys’ night discussion was “a bit disrespectful. You should not be speaking about your partners like that. It doesn’t matter if we’re in an experiment or everyday life”.
But Dean claimed in a now-edited social media post that Patrick participated in the conversation but had his contribution taken out.
— d i l a r a . ⛅ (@dilarailbiz) March 6, 2018
Dean “crossed boundaries” in offering up Tracey, clinical psychologist John Aiken – one of the relationship experts who match the Married at First Sight couples – admitted to Nine’s Today Extra.
The show’s host Sonia Kruger defended Dean’s attraction to someone else, “but when he offered up Tracey, that’s the thing that I think would incense a lot of people, because it’s hurtful”.
The gender studies lecturer, Dr McCann, said Married at First Sight’s producers were “definitely” complicit in the sexism of the show by provoking certain situations.
“They have cast people who they know have sexist ideas, like Dean, then put them in situations where they know those kinds of ideas are going to get canvassed,” she said.
“They’ve done a pretty good job of balancing out those extreme views from people like Dean with the good guys, but it’s towards the end of the season now and it’s all falling apart.”
Will she keep watching? “Yeah, I definitely will.”
The New Daily sought comment from Channel Nine. A response was not received in time for publication.