Survivor: a lesson about fear


We're big Survivor fans in this house and we've been watching the current season with our usual enthusiasm.

Now, of course, reality TV is reality TV. Editing creates scenarios that may or may not be accurate, and creates characters and caricatures who may or may not be real or nuanced.

However, here's what's going on in Survivor 23. 

The young fella in this picture is Brandon. He's the nephew of the notorious Survivor villain, Russell. Apparently Brandon is out to redeem his family name and show the world that Hantz men are good blokes and evil Russell doesn't speak for them all.

Unfortunately, he's not doing so well.

The lady behind him is Mikayla. She's an athlete. She helps out in camp. She goes fishing. She wears two piece cossies (like every other female on the beach). She's pretty good looking. But she's not out there flaunting what she's got or cosying up to the fellas - at least, not as far as we can see.

Brandon, however, is not coping with Mikayla's existence. He can't look at her. He can't talk to her. And he wants to get rid of her. Today. Now. This minute.

His reason is that he is attracted to her. And because, in his words, he's married and wants to stay faithful to his wife, Mikayla's got to go. 

A man is scared of a woman, just because of her very existence. So he has to get rid of her. It's a very old story. And one that is played out in various ways every day, the world over.

Brandon gets rid of Mikayla by voting her off the show. But there are other ways of getting rid of women. Silencing, covering and creating special places are a few of them. Making rules about what women can and can't do works too. Putting them on pedestals and treating them as special doesn't seem like getting rid of them, but it's done that way too. And what about not talking to them? Ignoring them, or patronising them, or not treating their opinions as worthwhile is pretty spectacularly successful.

Here's a story from where I used to live - in Pakistan. The Karachi zoo became popular with families in the mid-1980s. Groups of women and children, accompanied by their fathers and brothers, would visit the zoo for a fun excursion. Unfortunately, young men used the opportunity to leer, taunt and make sexual comments to the women who were out for the day. The solution? Well, it was simple really. All women and children were banned from the zoo. 

But back to Survivor. In a pre-show interview, Brandon said this: "I know it’s a game, but there a point where there are some things that I just won’t do. When it comes to degrading someone or making them feel like they’re less of a person; I don’t want to do that."

I feel sorry for Brandon. He doesn't realise that women are people too. And he doesn't realise that by getting rid of Mikayla just because he's scared of her existence as a woman, he is making her less of a person. In only episode two, he's already done what he said he didn't want to do.

When Jesus talked about lust, he didn't tell men to get rid of the person they may be lusting after. He said the solution had to come from themselves. 

A far more honourable solution to the problem Brandon is facing would be to withdraw from the game rather than punish and silence and annihilate Mikayla because he is terrified of her. We women have had enough of that.