We're all familiar with the classic (and offensive) female archetype of "The Cougar." In media, Cougars are older women, usually portrayed dressed in tight cheetah-print dresses (a confusing mix of animal references), who go after younger men. Though no one is calling Bachelorette Rachel a Cougar this season (and thankfully so), the ladies of Bustle's Will You Accept This Podcast? noticed that a lot of the men on the show thought that fan-favorite Dean was too young for their mutual girlfriend. But I had an even greater problem with the fact that criticizing Dean's age revealed a sexist double standard between The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
The discussion of Dean's age began when the other contestants began commenting that Dean was too young for Rachel despite the fact that she had chosen him for a one-on-one. Dean is the youngest in the house at 25, and the men were "worried" that he might be too immature for the 32-year-old attorney. Yeah, cause Dean is so much less mature than the Tickle Monster, or every single guy who couldn't stop laughing at the word "squirt" during the spelling bee group date.
For all the controversy, you'd think that a Bachelor or Bachelorette had never dated someone significantly younger than them before. Oh wait! Let's look at just about every season of The Bachelor, shall we? According to the Huffington Post, the average age of the Bachelor is 31, while the average age of female contestants is 26. That's only two years off from being the same age difference as Rachel and Dean, and that's the average. Bachelor Nick Viall was 36 during his season and four of the contestants were 23 years old, while only two were 31. In general, Bachelors tend to have contestants who are their age or younger, while Bachelorettes tend to date men their age or older.
So, Bachelors date women more than 10 years their junior and no one bats an eye, while Dean's age is suddenly the source of controversy? What gives?Sexism, friends. When it comes to the Bachelor franchise, sexism is usually what gives. People are used to seeing men with younger women. After all, when you live in a society that values youth and beauty in women above all else, why wouldn't older men prefer young women to those their own age? Older women might have — gasp! — wrinkles! But for some reason, if a woman is with a younger man it means she's desperate, or a "cougar."
If there had really been a lot of evidence to back up the claim that Dean was too immature for Rachel, that would be one thing. But so far, all I smell is a double-standard.