Married At First Sight

Gender stereotypes and outdated opinions: Is Married At First Sight sexist?

In this new era where reality TV is under the microscope, are audiences getting over it?

By Alex Lilly
Married At First Sight is the biggest, most scandalous show in the Australian reality TV stratosphere.
It's a guilty pleasure for sure- after all who doesn't want to tune into the dinner party episodes to see the drama unfurl? But with every year, there seems to be the same formula and personalities that are just a little bit behind the times.
Is MAFS a little bit behind the times? (Image: Nine Network)
The first week following the weddings and honeymoons saw the couples tackle intimacy week in a bid to bring them closer.
However, despite the experts asserting that intimacy doesn't necessarily relate to sex, we saw quite a few brides sexualising themselves for their husbands.
From Cathy's sexy underwear shopping trip that she herself stated that is "clearly something for him," to Vanessa's nurse outfit for Chris when he was dealing with man-flu to Hayley fulfilling David's fantasy of cooking bacon in her lingerie, it was all about pleasing the men.
We saw a whole lot of sexy outfits during intimacy week. (Image: Nine Network)
Yet despite the sexy outfits, it seems to be a catch 22 situation for the MAFS brides as they're also shamed for the way they look and embracing their own sexuality.
You just have to take a scroll through Twitter to see trolls make fun of Stacey and Hayley's plastic surgery and Natasha's extensive beauty routine.
After an ex-partner shared a video of Natasha naked online, the MAFS bride was subjected to online abuse but confessed to Woman's Day that she wasn't surprised by the situation.
"I've faced this sort of sexism in the corporate world. On the surface women are encouraged to embrace their sexuality and to not be embarrassed of enjoying sex but the minute we do... we're torn down," she said.
WATCH BELOW: Now To Love's Two Minute Speed Date with Natasha from MAFS. Post continues after video...
It's not just the women who are affected by the gender roles perpetuated on the show.
Men have to appear like domineering, tough alphas or they're mocked relentlessly. Take Mikey for example- like many men around the world, he wasn't comfortable sharing intimate details about his sex life but was inundated with 10 second jokes by his cast mates and viewers after the events of the second dinner party.
Meanwhile, men like Michael who call their partner names and show their true colours after a few drinks are left to their own devices to stir up drama.
The gender stereotypes on the show can be seen in the male contestants as much as the female ones. (Image: Nine Network)
Of course we have seen some unashamedly sexist moments come to light in previous seasons.
At the 2019 reunion, Mike was slammed after saying he thinks that "groups of women under pressure don't cope as well as groups of men under pressure" and earlier that season, expert Mel Schilling reprimanded Bronson Norrish after he called his wife a c---.
"A tip from me to you: don't use language like that, don't speak about women like that, if you want any chance of a relationship with a woman," she said.
But even then, Mel was faced with a torrent of online abuse and there was even a Change.org petition calling for Mel to be sacked over the incident when the expert was accused of being a biased feminist.
Watch Mel Schilling caution Bronson over language used towards Ines in the clip below. Post continues after video...
With all the body-shaming, name-calling and online abuse that seems to walk hand-in-hand with reality television, it begs the question as to whether these styles of TV shows will last much longer.
Following the tragic death of UK presenter Caroline Flack, many are tired of the formula and have sympathised with the stars who are swamped with negative comments and threats as we often don't see everything that's going on behind the scenes.
"This show is s---ful when it comes to the participants' mental health, but we all continue to watch it. What's wrong with us?" one person commented on the Woman's Day Facebook page.
"With the recent suicide of Caroline Flack, it's probably in our best interest to leave this drama be really," another wrote.
MAFS contestants are offered mental health treatment during and after filming, but maybe it's time to mix up the show that they don't need it so severely.
Fewer ratings are a small price to pay for mental wellbeing and healthy attitudes towards real people.