By Lauren Taylor
It’s become standard: we listen and watch as men objectify women – and women play into it. We’ve got Serena naked on the cover of ESPN magazine, women pro squash players selling swimsuit calendars (and speaking of swimsuits, the SI annual issue is out next month).
I encourage you to watch the show, if for no other reason than its comic value. But for those who opt-out, here’s the rundown: Five women sit in director’s chairs and watch as a life-size conveyor belt hauls 35 slabs of meat (er, men) on by, one by one. Each man has sixty seconds to sing, dance, rap, recite or in some other way impress the women. Some men come by clothed, others more or less naked – and still other take off their shirts after being asked to do so by the women. The women have placards that read “interested” and “not interested” which they can hold up at any point in the man’s schpiel. At the end of the show, each woman selects one man for a date. The contrived setup makes for a mindlessly entertaining hour of television.
It’s obvious that the tables have been purposefully turned. The women on Conveyor are vapid – and the men are 10 cents a dozen. The females are unfairly judgmental and the guys are pathetically eager to please.
What makes this worth a conversation is that more than merely answering the Bachelor with the Bachelorette, this show offers something we rarely see: a vision of a successfully manipulated social climate. In this show, the women have done men one better. Conveyor Belt of Love, after all, is a program in which the roles could never be reversed without someone at ABC losing their job.
That said, I need to add that this arms race is not poised to turn out well for either side. I mean – what’s next? Where are we racing to?