The Melissa Deserved Better Stan Club

Words by: Carla Tiernan
Art by: Georgia Lilley

Dear Melissa, 

You deserved better.

In 2021, Australia is a modern and progressive country. With successful self-love, body positivity, eating disorder awareness and sex positivity campaigns on social media, more and more girls are feeling comfortable in their own skin. This rise in social media feminism has led to numerous girls achieving body confidence whilst engaging in empowering, pleasurable and consensual sex lives. 

However, the depiction of women on season eight of Married at First Sight Australia, and the unbearable misogyny it toted, set these movements backwards a million years. 

Sadly, 31-year-old contestant Melissa Rawson fell victim to this at the hands of her husband on the show, Bryce Ruthven.

Ruthven commenced the season by telling beautiful Melissa he “wouldn’t go up  to [her] in a bar”, also stating that her green eyes weren’t good enough for him because he prefers blue. 

The next red flag was when he ranked her below three other women on a level of attractiveness list which the experts encouraged them to do, as they claimed it would help couples with honesty and intimacy. Cruel, right? 

All of this did not stop Ruthven from sleeping with poor Melissa and inexplicably  telling her he still wanted to be with her. 

Ruthven continued this gaslighting behaviour until  it all came to a grinding halt. Cheating allegations involving  him and his ex arose whilst filming, with multiple streams of evidence coming from fellow contestants Samantha Harvey, Booka Nile and more. However, Melissa refused to believe it. 

Melissa began to isolate herself by avoiding social events with her friends to stay back with Ruthven, continually putting up with his lying and manipulating behaviour. Unfortunately, they are still together now and have a podcast together.

On an even more disappointing note, Ruthven isn’t the only man to blame. Fellow contestant Samuel Carraro criticised Coco Stedman for not having big enough breasts, and claimed he broke up with his ex-girlfriend because she didn’t have big enough boobs. Cameron Dunne even scrutinised Samantha Harvey for not going to the gym enough. And sadly, the list doesn’t end here. 

MAFS is Australia’s most viewed reality tv series. So the implication of depicting this behaviour on TV is significant. What message does this send to other women  struggling through emotionally abusive relationships? Why was Channel Nine allowed to produce and air this? What happens when society deems this behaviour acceptable?

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