I absolutely love Channel 10’s Australian Survivor. Not to be dramatic, but over the last two COVID-infested years in particular, the show has been the literal one bright spark in my life every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday night during its run.

So obviously, I was pumped for my next dose of escapism when Australian Survivor: Blood V Water premiered. And for the most part, I’m actually really enjoying the season — the added element of people playing with / against their loved ones is seriously spicy and Jonathan LaPaglia‘s cryptic quips after each tribal council are just getting more batshit. Never change, JLP.

But there’s an undercurrent of Australian Survivor: Blood V Water making me cringe into oblivion in every episode. Yep, to quote the podcast My Favourite Murder: toxic masculinity ruins the party again.

I’m looking squarely at the current “Red” tribe for this one. Apparently that creek they soak themselves in 24/7 is made up of 90% liquid testosterone because the bro vibes are something else at this camp.

After the tribes swapped a couple of weeks ago, contestant Jordie Hansen made a throwaway comment in his to-camera chat that has lived rent-free in my brain ever since.

Referring to his old “Blue” tribe mates, he described his new strategy as “Blue strong, male strong” and my god mate, this ain’t it.

Australian Survivor
Brain not strong

He went on to rattle through the list of his female tribe mates as he decided which one to pick off, saying of Amy Ong: “She’s little and she’s really weak”.

I Could Really Do Without The Whole Boys’ Club Mentality On Australian Survivor This Season
Uh-huh

Never mind that in a subsequent challenge, Ong dominated and it was Hansen’s fellow “male strong” pal Jordan Schmidt who cost them that week’s immunity.

Oh, and never mind that this week, Shay Lajoie went up against Hansen in a gruelling endurance challenge and outlasted him. Never mind that at all.

Australian Survivor
owned

In Hansen’s defence, targeting the “weak” in Survivor is hardly a new tactic. A large part of the game is winning challenges and avoiding tribal council, so some contestants feel they need a super fit and strong tribe to do that.

But not every challenge requires a player to hoist a 20kg barrel over their head while running a marathon up a hill and then doing 1000 pushups. In fact, no challenge really asks for that. There’s puzzles, endurance and strategy based challenges as well, meaning that the physically “weak” can also have a chance to contribute to the team wins.

Hansen says he’s Survivor fan, so surely he’d know that the final two from last year’s Brains V Brawn season flipped “male strong” gender norms: we had winner Hayley Leake, a woman who was a challenge beast; and George Mladenov, a man who gave up competing in most physical challenges and relied on social strategy to get him to the end of the series.

Yet here Hansen is throwing out a comment like “male strong” in the year 2022 and making me actually groan. (I also groan every time he calls one of the female contestants “babe”, but that’s a hill I’ll die on another time.)

It’s not the getting rid of the “weak” that necessarily bothers me, it’s the fact that Hansen and his fellow boys club of Schmidt, David Goodchild, Mark Wales and Josh Millgate appear to believe that this perceived “weakness” and gender go hand in hand.

Australian Survivor
matching YTB tatts when

During their strategy conversations, it appears they don’t recognise that strength, particularly female strength, can manifest in other ways other than carting barrels up hills. And that women have shown throughout the history of Survivor that they are pretty bloody crucial to have on your side.

But annoyingly, the women in the Red tribe have been buying into the boys’ club mentality and turning against each other in an effort to be the last woman standing.

Thankfully, the next episode brings with it the merging of the two tribes and I’m glad, because the men running the Red tribe and the women turning on each other storyline was getting tough to watch.

There’s some badass women still competing in Australian Survivor, so let’s hope they kick the boys’ club right in the metaphorical dick.