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'Survivor': Was Coach sexist towards Mikayla

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Maybe it’s because I watched the trailer for OWN’s Miss Representation earlier in the day, but I was pretty outraged by the misogyny in last night’s Survivor. Now, I’ve been watching the CBS reality show since its first season, and I consume more reality TV than any human being should, so I’m no stranger to disturbing behavior, hilarious editing, and backstabbing confessionals. But there was something about last night’s episode that simply crossed a line. Actually, two things.

So let’s get down to business. First, Cochran remarked that the temper-tantrum-throwing Ozzy was “behaving like a stupid bitch.” The line was delivered with a such a spit of venom that, for a second, I thought I was watching a Lifetime movie about domestic abuse and he was about to whack his wife across the face. Cochran, who has questioned his own place in the tribe because of his stereotypically unmanly qualities (inability to perform at challenges, lack of muscle tone), scored a hefty laugh from his fellow contestants. And later, Coach tried to convince his alliance that they should keep the weak and meek Edna and vote out the stronger player Mikayla. He made his case by saying the following: “If you were to tell her at the merge, ‘Edna, I want you to follow Ozzy even when he goes to take a s— and wipe his ass for him,’ she would!”

Let’s think about that for a second. Could Coach have made that point in a less demeaning way toward a woman? Yes, he certainly could have. Would he have used such a condescending and offensive scenario if he were talking about a man? Somehow, I doubt it. After all, we are talking about a “manly” contestant who was angry at Mikayla for refusing to take a seat during a challenge. (But perhaps that anger’s due to the fact that he could perform no better than Mikayla at the challenge anyway?) And let’s not forget that, earlier in the season, Brandon Hantz — nephew of the all-time Survivor villain Russell — waged a holy war to vote out Mikayla because, well, I’m not sure why, but I’m pretty sure it was because she looked really hot in a bikini.

The difference between Brandon’s vile behavior and Coach and Cochran’s, though, is that the show chose to portray Brandon as a buffoon — each time he maligned Mikayla, there was a shot of him lasciviously staring at her half-naked body. There was no such cut for Coach and Cochran last night, who were cheered on by other contestants.

Believe me, I get it. I get that crazy quotes made good TV. I love Big Brother. I probably replayed Kim Richards calling Brandi Glanville a “slut pig” 14 times this week. But somehow those lines are easier to tolerate because most of us think Kim is a pathetic loon and heaven knows we don’t have a shred of respect for anyone who would step near that Big Brother house. Perhaps it’s unfair, but I hold the Survivor contestants to a different standard — especially one who rants on and on about the importance of “honor” and another who had the luxury of a Harvard education that should have schooled him about loaded phrases. To my disgust, Cochran and Coach came off as heroes of the week, putting strong players in their places while scoring points from tribe mates for their way with words. But what do you all think? Are Coach and Cochran misogynistic idiots or just idiots?

Read more:

‘Survivor’ recap: Ozzy Loses It

Jeff Probst on episode 6 of ‘Survivor: South Pacific’