Since the final episode of THE BACHELOR there have been a lot of negative comments about Juan Pablo, this season’s bachelor, some calling him the worst bachelor ever. I understand there was a lot of drama in the last episode as Chris, the host, (and sorry, but I can’t think of his last name) pressed the guy and (supposedly) made him out to be a villain because he wouldn’t say he loved the girl he chose—Nikki. I didn’t feel the urge to tune in so I didn’t actually see it and just saw little portions a few minutes ago online, but I did watch parts of other episodes and here’s my take on the situation. Juan Pablo is not an American, at least a North American, and doesn’t think or act like one. I’m not saying that’s bad. I’m saying in his culture it may be perfectly fine to say some of the things he said. I’m thinking he’s misunderstood by Americans.
Even though in America we believe in freedom of speech, I believe we are still much more PC and careful about what we say than are people of other countries. We tend to be tactful, polite, and nice—maybe sometimes too polite and nice. Sure we believe also in being honest, but we’re very carefully honest. When I’ve asked an opinion on something I’m wearing I’ve had friends answer me in such a way that I’m still not sure what they think. Americans would frankly rather be nice than completely honest. The foreigners—at least those I’ve known or have met are far more blunt and forth-coming.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
My mother was close to ninety when we took her in to get her license renewed. She still has all her faculties and is fine driving places close to her home, but she looked older than the rest of those there. Okay, here comes the Dutch in me: She looked old because she is. I’m sure most people at the DMV were thinking, Wow, she’s getting a license renewed? But nobody said what they were thinking except a little Filipino woman. She was only about four foot something, but she spoke right up and said, “You drive?!!! Oh you too old.” I wasn’t surprised it was a foreigner and not one of the locals who came right out and said what everyone else was probably thinking.
My own Dutch family members are also more ruthlessly honest than their American friends. A Dutch person is much more likely to say something like, “Oh, you’ve grown fat!” stating an obvious fact or “This is a funny little room,” and think nothing of it. My mother will never hold back her honest opinion.
We hear a lot about bullies, but for the most part American children are trained at a young age to avoid saying things that aren’t “nice” even if they’re true. If Dutch people are taught that, they don’t seem to live by that rule. They continue to be childlike in their honest observations such as this one my aunt made when she looked at my children’s pictures on my mother’s hall. “They’re all good-looking but have big noses.” Here’s the point. What appears to be rude here in America, isn’t necessarily considered rude in other places. In fact, if a Dutch person thinks you’re out of line, they’ll tell you. If he thinks you’re asking too many questions, he’ll tell you to mind your own business. In a way, it seems almost, well, healthier.
When my uncle visited, he and grandfather would raise their voices at each other as they talked about politics. They’d call each other out on things, even tell each other they were stupid. When the debate was over, they’d happily part ways with a pat on the back. It was no big deal to them. I know Americans who haven’t spoken to family members for years because of far less abusive language.
And that’s where the problem lies. Juan Pablo maybe isn’t the most ideal of single guys, but when it comes to his comments, give the guy a break. Just because he isn’t American and doesn’t say things the way Americans would, that doesn’t make him a villain. To be honest, sometimes I wish we Americans would just come out with it! Sometimes I wish we’d be a little less PC, polite or careful and just say what we really think.