Sunday night's episode of Married At First Sight saw Bronson Norrish called out by expert Mel Schilling for using the C-word to describe his wife Ines Basic.
"When you use language like that in relation to a woman, how do you expect her to respond to you? A tip from me to you, don't use language like that if you want any chance of a relationship," she said. Following the outburst, fans took to Twitter to point out that Bronson was merely defending himself against wife Ines' consistent, belittling behaviour toward him in the previous weeks.
Now, the backlash against expert Mel has heightened with an online petition called for her to "be sacked or apologise", racking up over 35,000 signatures.
The petition page also claims that fans who have spoken out on Instagram have been blocked by Channel Nine's official MAFS page.
Psychologist Mel has since broken her silence, explaining she doesn't see gender and was simply calling out Bronson for dangerous language. "I'm gender-blind in that role. Abusive or harmful behaviour is something I'm going to call out whether it's men or women doing it," she told 9Honey. "As experts sitting on that couch we are not privy to everything that happens to the participants during the week. If a person had a problem and they sought professional advice, that professional wouldn't have seen what they'd done for the last week outside of that session. They only have what's going on in that session to respond to."
She adds, "Similarly, that's all I was responding to, what was happening there in the moment without the benefit of that information about what had happened in the wedding and the honeymoon. We only saw what was happening in front of us."
Nine executive producer John Walsh also responded to the petition, saying he was “shocked at the backlash Mel has received for defending another woman”.
“There were 12 women in the room that night and a man used language that was highly insulting and inflammatory in reference to his wife,” he said in a statement to 9Honey. “Mel acted in the only way appropriate by calling out the language, language that is not ever considered acceptable anywhere, anytime.”
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