“I feel you are here to make out with a bunch of dudes on TV,” Ian, a contestant on The Bachelorette this season, told Bachelorette Kaitlyn a few weeks back. Kaitlyn may have shut down Ian’s criticism handily during that episode, but while Ian was wrong about her intentions, he wasn’t wrong about her technique.
Throughout this season, Kaitlyn has countered her haters by repeatedly arguing that the physical part of a relationship is important and she won’t apologize for caring about it. Her behavior sits in sharp relief against previous Bachelorettes, who—whether because of their own preferences or outside pressures or a combination of factors—were more sneaky about sex. For instance, Bachelorette Emily reportedly pretended to not have any overnight dates with her suitors on-camera, referencing how it would be inappropriate for her daughter to see that on television. Her daughter didn’t end up seeing it, but that’s not because Emily didn’t spend that alone time with those men, just that she wanted it to appear as though she hadn’t.
Kaitlyn has been more upfront of about her sexuality. “To me, intimacy is an important part of a relationship and I’m not afraid to say that,” she said during the season, multiple times and in a few different ways, emphasizing that this would hopefully be the last time she ever kisses anyone other than the dude she chooses at the end of the show. “This is forever and this is a marriage and part of that is intimacy, and I’m not ashamed of that.”
That doesn’t mean, however, that she was prepared for the amount of vitriol she’d receive for exploring that intimacy. “I knew people were going to get mad at me for kissing,” she told People. “I knew there were going to be magazines with crazy headlines. I prepared myself. I definitely have tough skin, but when people are calling you names like a slut, it hurts. It’s been really hard.”
“It’s 2015,” she added. “How is this still an issue where if a woman [has sex], it’s wrong, and if a man does, it’s right?
As Kaitlyn explained on her website following the Men Tell All episode when Chris Harrison read aloud the harassing tweets she’s been receiving since the show started airing—many of which label her a “whore”—she just wants people to be honest about their lives:
When it comes to being some sort of an overnight role model, I am not out there preaching for girls to have sex in relationships just because I do. I am preaching to love and own who you are, admit to your mistakes, learn from them, and be happy. If saving yourself for marriage makes you happy and that’s what YOU believe in, then that is wonderful. I would never go on your Twitter or Instagram and start bringing you down for being yourself. I would probably want to high-five you and say “DO YOU BRO!”.
The finale of The Bachelorette airs tonight. During it we will (we assume) see Kaitlyn pick her one true kiss partner for the rest of her life. So in honor of Kaitlyn doing her, bro, enjoy this mashup of some of her best kisses, a celebration of her honesty about how she lives her life, on a reality TV show that often avoids the actual reality of relationships. Nowhere close to every kiss Kaitlyn had over the course of the show is featured here, nor is every man she locked lips with; honorable mentions go to dudes like Ian and Chris “Cupcake,” whose kisses were less than magical and didn’t make the cut. But there were some guys Kaitlyn just kept going back to (hello Nick!)—and really, who could blame her?
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