The "moving in" episode was a masterclass in how gender stereotypes and ideology are the very foundation of abuse.
LOVE AND MARRIAGE
Bronson: "Marriage is worth fighting for."
The idea/fantasy/goal of marriage is so powerful, he is prepared to overlook the fact that there's zero chance of this relationship working. Many of the other participants are also blinded by the fantasy they are seeking.
John Aitkin to ines - in front of Bronson (I'm paraphrasing):
"So, you had a very hard childhood and it made you independent." Then to both of them, "See, look how much you have in common - you've both had a hard life."
Ines' did indeed have a hard childhood. She needs a team of therapists, not a husband. Every abuser has a sad story.
Every. Single. One.
That is not an excuse for abuse.
Bronson has also had a horrendous life. And for his trouble, the experts have matched him with a sociopath.
And the big one. John Aitkin had a clear opportunity in the counselling session to call Ines on her abusive behaviour and convenient lack of insight. Instead, he left them both with the impression that they "just need to communicate better." This emboldened Ines - as it does all abusers. She is left with the impression that she is the victim.
Again, anyone who has worked in family violence will tell you that sadly, this is a common outcome of relationships counselling. So many abuse victims will tell you how friends, family and professionals were part of the reason they stayed to "try and work it out and help him/her".
When abuse is recognised, it should be named and condemned; especially by those with a professional duty of care.
Ines is just a hurt little girl who couldn't harm anyone.
Bronson is a big strong man who can look after himself.
Elizabeth is a big tough, sassy girl who can look after herself.
Sam is just a quiet, good looking, entitled white guy who is just "boys being boys".
Cyrell's conversation with Elizabeth is also very interesting.
First and foremost, it's projection: Cyrell thinks SHE'S being too hard on her husband and so tells Elizabeth to be nicer to a guy who left her for his ex on their wedding night and didn't even contact her.
Despite Elizabeth's constant protestations that she's strong and independent, she is extremely vulnerable to manipulation. Cyrell isn't trying to manipulate her, but the effect is the same: be nice to your man, despite the evidence.
And the experts KNOW Elizabeth is vulnerable - their "science" would have told them that - they just don't care.
She came for love, they gave her a sociopath.
None of these things operate in isolation.
If they did, they'd be less effective.
But when you combine the gendered stereotypes plus the cultural fantasy of marriage plus the weight of the experts plus the human need for relationships and contact, you have potential for disaster.
Remember that the experts - like many in real life - are invested both in the same stereotypes and cultural narratives AND, their own expertise: I CAN FIX THIS.
Plus, they are either not trained in - or not prepared to call out -the clear signs of abuse.
Tell your kids:
Relationships should feel good most of the time
Your friends can be wrong
Medical people can be wrong
Fantasy days end
It is not your job to fix/save anyone
You deserve kindness
If you feel "less than" around someone, get out.
PS. good idea for a first date: get someone to wax your butt-hole.