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‘The Bachelor’ Just Had a (Semi) Respectful Discussion About Sex Work on National TV

Brittany Galvin, who was accused of being an escort while a contestant on the show, put the rumors to rest while saying "sex work is work."

"The Bachelor" contestant Rachel Galvin

“The Bachelor” contestant Rachel Galvin

ABC

The Bachelor” is the last show you’d expect to air a respectful discussion around sex work on national TV. It’s a reality show where a harem of women compete for the attention of a single man under the guise of finding their one true love; it’s not exactly the place you’d expect to hear ideas that are radical even in some so-called feminist circles. For the most part, a Season 25 storyline in which one contestant was “accused” of being a high-end escort played into every stigmatizing view of sex work that mainstream media has been pushing for years — even though the oldest profession has been around far longer than TV has.

But Brittany Galvin, the contestant in question — who says the whole ordeal was “defeating” — had the grace and presence of mind to push back on ABC’s narrative. In this week’s “The Women Tell All” episode, she respectfully denied the rumors without belittling or shaming sex workers. By deliberately using the term “sex work industry” and calling it “an occupation,” Galvin may have just become the first person to say sex work is work on national television. She’s certainly the first to say it to “Bachelor” nation and its 4.5 million viewers.

“I’ve never felt so low like that in my entire life, and I was completely shocked. That was just defeating,” said Galvin on the March 1 reunion episode of the accusations. “It’s embarrassing because when you Google my name now, it’s Brittany Galvin accused of being an escort. You know, it’s nothing wrong with that industry, but it’s not me.”

While the overarching message of the show is that Galvin’s life was nearly ruined by these allegations, the 23-year-old made sure to distance herself from that toxic viewpoint. After a back and forth with Anna Redman, whose toothy claim that Galvin was “entertaining men for money” made her an easy comedic target on Tik Tok, Galvin circled back to defend sex workers.

“I also want to address people that are in the sex work industry, don’t let somebody tear you down for that,” she said. “I believe that everyone deserves love and nobody’s life is worth more or means less based on occupation.”

While many fans were disappointed “The Bachelor” chose to air the entire storyline at all, they acknowledged ABC for not editing out Galvin’s thoughtful reframing.

“I just gotta say that it’s great to see Brittany mentioning on @BachelorABC Tell All that sex work is just as valid as any other occupation,” wrote Leanne O’Neill. “So much of that storyline was in the vein of shaming sex workers, and it’s great that ABC didn’t edit out that Tell All clarification”

“Gotta say i was shocked and surprised to see a contestant defend sex work as valid work on the bachelor wta last night. The way the show framed the ~scandal~ of an escort possibly being on the show was violent af and this contestant refuted that spin,” wrote another user. “The bar is in the pits of hell for the franchise but still, an unexpected glimmer of hope for humanity.”

Galvin doubled down on her message of support on her Instagram stories, which were obtained by Cosmopolitan. Clearly, Galvin has been receiving messages of support from the sex work community, and she’s been listening.

“It’s 2021, you know how prominent sex workers are in this world? Or how many people have OnlyFans? Why are we still judging others?,” she wrote. “Again, to make it clear I am NOT an escort. And for the people who are, don’t let others tear you down. Keep sharing your stories wit me because they are all so powerful. I’m here to support you like how you have to me!”

Bravo to Galvin for navigating this tricky territory with her dignity intact, and for using her platform to be an ally to sex workers. It’s not perfect representation, not by a long shot, but every time anyone says “sex work is work” on mainstream media is a win. Maybe next time someone can point out that appearing on a dating reality show isn’t so different than “entertaining men for money” — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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