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Married At First Sight’s Josh And Melissa Remind Us That Women Need To Respect Boundaries Too

Rejecting advances does not make you any less of a man, or a woman.
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Sunday’s Married At First Sight episode made many viewers uncomfortable, as the obvious disjoint between 41-year-old hairdresser Melissa and 40-year-old advertising client director Josh came to a head.

Melissa, who has called herself a “freak in the sheets”, sat across from the show’s experts Alessandra Rampolla, John Aiken and Mel Schilling, describing her husband’s perceived lack of sexual prowess and “manliness”.

If you think your boundaries would feel crossed hearing that, Josh’s were too.

For reference, Josh has been the more hesitant in the couple, while Melissa dove in with both feet. She’d already made her mind up about their intimacy before she’d even met him.

“Whoever he [my husband] is, let me tell you: sit down and buckle up, because he is in for a big ride!” she said when the pair’s wedding gift (a sex box) was dropped off.

Melissa also took her top off in the pool to try to tempt him.

“If getting these girls out doesn’t work, I don’t know what’s going to make him turn his head!” she said.

Unfortunately the pairing was not to be. (Credit: Image: MAFS)

In episode 13 of MAFS we saw the pain that arose from Melissa’s treatment of Josh. Melissa said that she feels Josh’s perceived conservatism in intimacy “suppresses” her.

“I feel like I’m the alpha in the relationship. I’m more dominant and it’s just showing,” she told the experts. “I just feel like he’s not a big man. I don’t feel protected by Josh and I feel like I’m protecting him…I want a ‘manly man’.”

She added that during intimacy week the sex felt like “a transaction” and was “quite awful”.

These brutal comments may not have been maliciously designed to shame Josh’s boundaries around sex and his personality as a whole, but they certainly took their toll.

“It’s just overwhelming,” he said in tears. “It’s hard because you come out of a long-term relationship…this doesn’t help. Wondering whether you’re enough and I feel like I’m pretty broken.”

Josh said he feels ‘broken’ by the experiment. (Credit: Image: MAFS)

Josh found his bearings and got honest with the experts and his ‘wife’.

“You’re saying I’m some kind of shrew or 40-year-old virgin which I am not in any way, shape or form. I cannot sit here and take this,” he said.

He also accused Melissa of being controlling in the relationship, stopping him from watching TV and going on his phone as well as restricting who he could converse with.

“She has used degrading, dehumanising language, questioning my manhood, that is the core of the issue,” he said.

“If I was a woman saying these things, the group would feel very differently about them.”

The culmination of these problematic exchanges has been a heated debate about sex and boundary education for women. Many are questioning why discussions around sexual behaviour are watered down when it is the man who is uncomfortable?

Viewers rushed to the internet to share their support for Josh. (Credit: Image: Instagram)

The public was quick to defend Josh.

“Again imagine the absolute outrage if a man spoke to a woman how Melissa is belittling Josh.” one user wrote on Twitter.

“Josh being moved to tears by Melissa, broken, serves as a poignant reminder that despite societal constructs, men are not impervious to their emotions or vulnerability. Equally, to be vulnerable is to entrust. No person should be diminished for baring their truths,” another wrote.

Relationship expert Dr Lurve says pre-conceived notions around sex and sexuality play a big part in how we view boundaries.

“We have been conditioned to assume all men think about is sex and that the most important thing for them in a relationship is being sexual with their partner.” she told marie claire Australia. 

John Aiken decided to let Josh leave. (Credit: Image: MAFS)

She believes we need open and honest conversations for both sexes around boundaries and what we’re comfortable with in relationships.

“You need to talk about it and ask each other how comfortable you are with moving forward sexually, whether you are with a man, woman, or a non-binary person.”

Dr Lurve does admit that there are tactics we use to address a partner who is being controlling with us.

“You need to show them how you feel in a language they understand. Sometimes people won’t understand what you’re saying, but understand your actions more,” she says.

However, if you’re ever feeling like it’s beyond repair, there is no harm in removing yourself from the situation. That is the exact decision that John Aiken decided to make on Sunday.

When Melissa revealed she wanted to ‘stay’ while Josh wanted to ‘leave’, Aiken decided to circumvent the rules of the show and allow Josh to leave.

“Josh we can see clearly that you’re pretty broken right now. Considering what we’ve seen tonight, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before,” Aiken said.

“We’ve been around long enough to know that there is no coming back for you in this experiment Josh and we’re not going to subject you any longer to this.”

“We’re going to respect your request Josh.”

Talk about a mic drop.

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