Last week, news broke that Garrett Yrigoyen of The Bachelorette -- the recipient of the first impression rose, and likely winner of the season -- is an Instagram bigot. He liked posts which are racist, sexist, transphobic, anti-immigrant, and accuse the Parkland students of being crisis actors. He apologized, and maybe he really is learning and growing. I’m all for formerly bigoted people learning, growing and becoming less hateful. More likely, however, is that he’s apologizing because ABC told him this was not behavior becoming of their front runner. They have to cover their asses. He has to cover his ass. He wouldn’t have “learned” or “grown” if he wasn’t on national TV. Becca then defended him: “Everyone is entitled to their opinions.” This is true. And, if your opinions are hateful, vile, racist and bigoted, we’re allowed to call you out for those opinions and those who enable them.
To people with privilege, ideals are just that: ideals. Becca can spout all the Hilary and Women’s March support she wants and still end up with Garrett. Because the bigoted Instagrams he allegedly faved aren’t targeting her. They don’t and won't affect her. The posts made light of throwing immigrant children over a wall -- not white children. The posts make fun of trans youth -- not cisgender women. She can talk about their ideological differences all she wants because at the end of the day, his hate isn’t harming her. It’s a dinner conversation they have (or don’t because they don’t believe in discussing such things) and can move on, watch reality TV, and go to bed. The problem with pseudo white feminism is that it espouses that we shouldn’t be racist, sexist, transphobic, but it does not require us to put those beliefs into practice. It’s not good enough to think racism is bad. You have to be anti-racist. You have to challenge your loved ones to be anti-racist. Becca, if she does indeed choose Garrett and decide to stay with him, is not doing that. She’s defending her likely finace’s bigoted ideology. She’s upholding his white supremacy. She’s complicit.
Becca and Garrett do not disagree over big government versus small. This is not run-of-the-mill conservative versus liberal. This is decency versus hate. Garrett frequently laughed at the dehumanization of immigrants, transgender individuals, and the child victims of gun violence. The government works best when everyone has the same goal, and we all debate about how best to come to this goal. There are fundamentally different goals here. Garrett, or the pages Garrett likes, seek to prevent non-straight, white, cis, males from being free in the way he and the men like him are. Becca may disagree with him, but in defending him, she not only upholds his white supremist ideals, but takes part in them. No matter how many pink hats she wears.
Let's be clear -- women are never responsible for the actions of the men in their life. But, we are responsible for how we respond to them. After the now famed New York Times “Arrested Development” article, where David Cross defended a man who has preyed on trans-women and violently screamed at his comedy partner, Cross’ wife, Amber Tamblyn, did not rush to his defense. She didn’t even take a leisurely stroll there. She did not uphold his misogyny. She openly criticized it and him. She held him to the standard all humans should be held to: the standard of actively resisting hate at all times.
Becca’s not wrong: everyone is entitled to their opinions and she is entitled to marry who she wants. But defending his hate as a difference of opinion is a betrayal of the values she claims to uphold. If she does in fact choose Garrett and is staying with him despite his bigotry, as the strong defense of him would suggest, there was an appropriate way to respond to this that confirmed her support for Garrett AND for her values: “These are not my ideals. These are deeply offensive, hurtful likes. As we move forward in our relationship, we will figure out how to navigate this so that he can become a more respectful, open minded man and we can raise children who will uphold the ideals that will reshape our world.”
We have to stop defending a difference of opinion if one of the opinions is dehumanizing, harming or killing people. Reject bigotry wherever possible, particularly among our own communities, families and partners. We have to stop claiming feminism or allyship if we’re not living in those ideals. Feminism is not an accessory you put on like a pink hat. It’s the constant work we do to ensure bigotry and hate is expelled from every facet of our nation. Time for Becca to get to work.