Clare Crawley’s stint as the Bachelorette may be over, but the debate surrounding the season 16 strip dodgeball date lives on. Chris Harrison spoke candidly about the backlash and double standard in Bachelor Nation during a new interview with Maria Menounos.
“First of all, I think a lot of this has to do with where we were and the situation. We were in Palm Springs, it was 150 degrees, we could only have so many dates outside. It was so bloody hot, so we were very limited in what we could do,” the 49-year-old host explained on “Better Together with Maria Menounos” podcast on Thursday, November 12. “The strip dodgeball — one thing I love about the show — is it does push those boundaries and it pushes those debates and the level of the normalcy of what’s right and wrong and then it’s kind of up to you the viewer and you the Bachelor or Bachelorette.”
After the October 20 episode, the 39-year-old hairstylist came under fire on social media for a group date in which the contestants played strip dodgeball to win time with her. While Crawley “liked” a series of tweets blaming production for the date, Harrison disagreed.
“How far is Clare going to take this? What’s she’s going to say? Will she actually make them do it? She was the one saying, ‘Take off your shorts.’ At any moment, she could’ve said, ‘OK, that’s enough. We had fun,’” he told Menounos. “And by the way, then it’s incumbent upon the guys to have their own sense of who they are and say no. … Kenny, Blake, all those guys could not get naked fast enough.”
Harrison went on to admit that there is a double standard between men and women when it comes to planning the show’s dates.
“Would we have played strip dodgeball with the women? No. Is that a double standard? Yes. Should there be double standards in the world? Maybe,” he said. “That doesn’t mean you’re against equality, that doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t have the same job or as good as you or whatever. But are there double standards in this world and should there be? I think that’s a great question.”
Crawley, however, pointed out on social media at the time of the episode that her season of The Bachelor featured nudity too.
“It’s awful you had the guys take off their clothes,” a viewer tweeted at Crawley last month. “If The bachelor asked the women do the same things all heck would break loose. You were wrong. Juan Pablo should have had you strip.”
“You mean like this?” the Sacramento resident captioned the photo of the lead posing with his two topless contestants for charity during a 2014 group date. (Crawley, for her part, wasn’t on the date but finished as the runner-up on Galavis’ season.)
Harrison concluded that he loves when social media users debate topics in Bachelor Nation — and made it clear he doesn’t agree with cancel culture.
“You have to be very careful with that. We all want to do what’s right, but sometimes it’s wrong,” he said. “But sometimes that title wave is burying the wrong men and women, and that’s very unfortunate because we don’t stop to look at the bodies.”
The Bachelorette airs on ABC Tuesdays at 8 p.m ET.