Last night's episode of Married at First Sight introduced us to 34-year-old personal trainer Jack Dunkley, who hails from the Gold Coast and prides himself on his business, physical appearance, and won over his new wife, Tori, with his very straight teeth.
The show also introduced us to the fact that Jack sees himself as a "leader" — we know this because he probably described himself like that about three times.
"I love leading and giving advice," Jack said. "Would I call myself an alpha? Yes, I like to try and control the situation, so I don't mind taking on that role."
Is Jack a walking red flag?
From his need to describe himself as "dominant", his apparent love of control, and the fact he only just brought his clients to his wedding and not any personal close friends, for a lot of people, Jack displayed some very obvious red flags, with his new bride's best friend Lea also picking up on them.
— so tired (Taylor’s Version) (@pjk27779) January 30, 2024
While Lea questioned Jack's behaviour, the cameras cleverly panned to Jack being put off that Tori didn't ask what kind of gym he ran, and also discussing the fact that she's younger than him as a good sign because it "makes me feel like I've got something to do, that I'm leading someone the right way" as if a woman in her mid-late 20s is a helpless child who needs to be told what to do by a man with a man bun.
"It could be a misogynistic thing, you won't know until it comes out," Lea warned Tori.
So is Jack a red flag, is it good editing, or is giving a proud 'alpha' male screen time just becoming more of a beige flag than a red flag?
Don't be fooled, MAFS knows what it's doing
This isn't the first, nor the last man exhibiting signs of toxic masculinity that we'll see on our TV screens or on Married at First Sight.
From the 2018 season where Dean Wells professed he wanted a "girl who's girly and knows that I'm the man and I'm in charge" to last year's divisive groom Harrison Boon having some of his old Facebook posts unearthed which revealed he doesn't believe in the gender pay gap, MAFS has given misogynistic men a platform for many years. The men in question create drama, controversy, and there are moments when they're finally put in their place by other contestants and the experts, most often in a tense commitment ceremony, but the storylines have become increasingly more formulaic.
If anything, it's just kind of sad to know there are grown men still holding onto toxic ideologies often found in sad Reddit threads.
While once it may have been considered dangerous for such men to air their backward viewpoints on mainstream television, now as audiences wisen up to the old-fashioned ideology of an "alpha" man, I'd pose a new question: is it just actually really boring to see them emblazoned across our screens?
As Jack dictates what he usually looks for in a woman, it's eye-rolling at best when he says he prefers them to be 'submissive' to his dominant personality. While he may be playing from the Andrew Tate school of misogyny deeming his most valuable asset to be a provider for a future family, Jack could also wake up and enter 2024. Women are real people, in the workforce, who don't need to be controlled or submit to their husbands. God forbid, some may even be earning more money than him.
As Jack questions whether he needs a 'confident' woman and someone to 'challenge' him, the question begs... what is Jack even actually offering, apart from a very tidy drawer of stacked tuna cans and a carefully groomed hairstyle?
Do you know what's challenging, Jack? Self-growth and moving past the stereotypes of the 1950s. That could be a good challenge instead of expecting a woman to do the heavy lifting for you.