Why The 'Bachelorette's Tickle Monster Is Actually Problematic
As fans know, it's always exciting when the contestants are revealed for a new season of Bachelor/ette. And Rachel Lindsay's group of guys is no exception. Among the attorneys and models, there's one job in particular that raised eyebrows — and no, I'm not talking about Whaboom. Can we please discuss how Jonathan calls himself a Tickle Monster? While he's technically a doctor (a noble profession), his moniker reflects his tendency to spring tickles on people. And here's the thing, there's one major reason the Bachelorette's Tickle Monster is problematic.
In the premiere episode, Jonathan exits the limo and asks Rachel to close her eyes "for just a second." She obliges, holds out her hands, and boom! He unexpectedly tickles her. Ever the good sport, Rachel laughs and says, "I'm so ticklish." However, you also see her whole body practically collapse from the surprise gesture. Like, she nearly falls over.
Grabbing and tickling someone's body without permission takes away their agency, and that's exactly what happens to Rachel here, even if just for a moment. I don't think Jonathan intended to be invasive, of course. He even admitted, "I wanted to make sure you had at least one good laugh tonight." But come on, has he never heard of knock-knock jokes?
In a way, tickling someone — at least without permission — crosses a boundary. It's not the same as actual assault, but it still promotes a message of feeling entitled to someone else's body. I'd categorize it along the same lines as, say, asking a woman to smile or running your fingers through her hair without asking. You wouldn't just walk up to a stranger on the street and kiss them. Nope. So, why go for a surprise tickle?
And tickling, in general, can be rather polarizing. Sure, it might make you laugh, but plenty of people despise it. According to a 1997 New York Times article, in a study, "the scientists are finding that ticklish laughter is not the happy phenomenon that many have assumed it to be." Taking that a step further, the Times article continued, "they found that far from being the jolly social interaction that many people had assumed it to be, ticklish laughter may be a simple reflex."
Just because someone laughs while being tickled, that doesn't mean it's not an uncomfortable or warranted experience. Plus, you won't know if someone likes tickles unless you ask them. That's a step Jonathan definitely skipped.
And I'm not the only one who was off-put by the move. Fans on Twitter were not here for the tickle party either:
Hopefully Jonathan learns his lesson and doesn't bombard people with tickle attacks in the future. It's just not a solid life strategy to go around thrusting your hands on people. Oh, and you probably shouldn't call yourself a monster, you know, unless it's of the cookie variety.