Last Night’s MAFS Episode Suggests Australia Isn’t Ready For Vulnerable Men

When it comes to showing vulnerability on a first date, Australia appears to be divided...

Image Credit: Nine Entertainment

We might intellectually know it’s ok for men to be vulnerable in this day and age, but how you (or your date) really feels about your heart-on-sleeve antics, having been raised in a different world, can be quite a different thing.

Let me preface this by outing myself as a non-lover of Married At First Sight (MAFS). To be completely honest, I think the show and its premise are trash and I genuinely don’t understand how people can endure watching it.

However, the last few episodes – last night’s in particular – have sparked a massive debate online and highlighted a serious societal issue: whether ‘real’ men are ‘allowed’ to be vulnerable.

Of course, real men are allowed and, frankly, should be encouraged to be vulnerable and sensitive despite what contestant (I don’t watch this show; are they all contestants? Is there a prize?!) Selin Mengu said on national television. Selin married Anthony Cincotta this season and at the beginning of the latest episode described her new husband in an extremely harsh way:

“He’s really sensitive. Like, it doesn’t [to me] seem like he’s a man.”

The show then cuts to Anthony who, while he doesn’t hear this remark, describes that he’s disheartened with Selin constantly ridiculing him for being in touch with his feelings and allegedly calling him ‘princess’ off-camera.

“After being vulnerable, it just kind of kept getting thrown back into my face.”

Anthony, upset with Selin’s comments and behaviour, decided to leave their honeymoon a day early. From what I can tell – aside from this one, I have not watched a single MAFS episode in my life – both Anthony and Selin have done wrong.

Selin didn’t like some of the playful things Anthony did on their honeymoon and rather than talking to him about it she decided to make snarky comments that upset him. Then when he got upset, she made derogatory comments about his vulnerability (not cool). However, Anthony should’ve tried to talk to Selin and explained why he was upset and why it’s not okay to make those types of comments rather than just leaving.

The expressions on Anthony and Selin’s faces exactly mirror how I felt watching last night’s MAFS episode. Image Credit: Nine Entertainment

Then after a whole bunch of drama, worthy of a high-school playground, last night’s episode ended with the newlywed couple going to have a ‘private’ (or as private as it can be with cameras rolling and roughly 1 million Aussies watching at home) chat to discuss their issues.

Selin voices that she’s frustrated that Anthony left the honeymoon early as it denied her the chance to communicate with him and potentially fix up their tiff. She then says all she wants is an apology. Actively listening, Anthony says:

“I understand that and I’m sorry for that,” which is an 11/10 apology; Anthony made absolutely no excuses and sincerely apologised. However, Selin doesn’t acknowledge the apology, clearly doesn’t listen to Anthony and refuses to own up to or apologise for her own horrible behaviour.

Viewers quickly took to Twitter to voice their outrage at the way Selin acted.

I have to admit, after watching the episode I definitely sided with Anthony but then this morning on the Fitzy & Wippa radio show, Selin defended herself saying that “viewers have got to understand they see one per cent of everything that has happened.”

Selin also explained that she tried to talk to Anthony earlier in the evening but he brushed her off, so when they finally did talk later (which is what viewers saw) she was a few wines deep and felt that his apology was too little, too late. Now I’ve decided I don’t particularly want to take sides as I can appreciate, as a woman, that perhaps Selin has been edited to look like a villain and Anthony has been edited to look like a saint.

We will never know what happened off-camera or what’s been edited out. Perhaps Selin never called Anthony a ‘princess’ and perhaps Anthony has some red flags that have been cut out of the show. Truth be told, I don’t care about the individuals involved in this, for lack of a better word, feud. I care about the bigger issue at hand.

MAFS is perpetuating a damaging notion; that men who are sensitive are not ‘real’ men and that women will treat you horribly and call you names if you do show your vulnerable side.

An independent study DMARGE conducted found that 33% of people believe that men should figure out their problems without asking for help and talking about personal issues is weak. This outdated way of thinking is harmful and is undoubtedly a contributing factor as to why men die by suicide at a higher rate than women.

Therefore, it’s imperative that we, as a society, encourage men to openly share and discuss their feelings. MAFS’ narrative concerning Selin and Anthony is potentially scaring and warping more than 33% of people into thinking ‘being vulnerable is weak’.

Honestly, my takeaway from my first ever MAFS viewing is don’t marry a stranger on a ridiculous reality show; it’s so edited and scripted and over-dramatic that in this instance I’m not entirely sure who’s to blame; although Selin really needs to stop making disparaging comments that suggest real men don’t have emotions and if they do, don’t express them.

And, to end on a more serious note, both men and women need to be educated about toxic masculinity and it needs to be made clear that being sensitive and vulnerable is in no way, shape or form ‘weak’ or ‘unmasculine’.

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