Why Are Women Still Asking For Steve Ward's Tough Love?

As a television watching feminist, I was shocked when I found out Steve Ward was asked back to do another season of his dating show, Tough Love.

After all, the first season was full of all kinds of problematic messages about women and dating. One of the first challenges in each show is for the women to choose and outfit and pose sexily. After the photo shoot ends, Ward provides the photos to a panel of men to judge.

Here’s how it went in season one:

And season two:

However, it was Ward’s infamous “That’s how women get raped” comment about season one cast member Arian’s behavior that caused a rift between Steve and the rest of the women in the house:

At first, the women in the clip agree with Steve 100%. But as the season goes on, Ward’s mother Joanne is often called into to mediate between the women and Steve, as his dating advice becomes challenged more and more.

By the second season, this dynamic has evaporated and the women on the show generally do not challenge Steve on his edicts. Season two also brought a new pet challenge in for Steve - reforming a sex worker.

The intro for Angel sets the tone for her role the rest of the series - Angel is a stripper. The end. Now, the rest of the women participating also have their quick roles to fall into (i.e. the gold-digger, and the former fat girl, and no I am not making this up) but Angel’s entire on-screen identity revolves around Steve forcing her to pay penance for being participating in sex work. Just about every challenge for Angel focuses around her “taking responsibility” for her career choice and moving on.

First, he asks her to confess to her date, Adam about her son and her stripper past:

Adam, interestingly enough, is completely cool with Angel dancing for a living. But Steve isn’t done, asking her to then confess to her parents:

Interestingly enough, her parents already knew she was dancing to earn a living, and were supportive about it. The rest of the show is about pushing Angel into bartending, so Steve can say mission accomplished.

Here’s another example of Steve’s advice, dispensed in a live chat for the Washington Post:

Royal Oak, Mich.: I recently have been completely closed off to all men, I’ll play the cat and mouse game but every time they seem to get getting serious, I shut down and become rude and ignore them. Mainly because I work full time and are going back to medical school so I barely have time for myself; their constant bothering of “when can i see you next” just makes me angry and upset. Plus I am having difficulty getting over a petty “crush” on a married man with children, I flirt back constantly but I just cannot seem to stop and see the reality of it. Help!

Steven Ward: You are attracted to men you can’t have and don’t actually want you for the right reasons. This probably has something to do with your parents possibly rejecting you somehow as a child.

This is taking armchair therapy to whole new heights.


Occassionally, Ward does provide decent advice. A twitter follwer asked him for advice after being slapped by her boyfriend, and Ward fires back “Leave him &/or file a police report.”


The new season of Tough Love is currently in production and the theme is couples.  I know I’ll be watching - I need to see how he treats the men.  

by Latoya Peterson
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I'm an editor at @Racialicious and the Deputy Editor for Digital Innovation for @ESPN 's #TheUndefeated

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7 Comments Have Been Posted

Wow. This made me feel ill,

Wow. This made me feel ill, really. It's one thing to encourage women to be comfortable with their sexuality, but insisting they pose for sexy photos and then BE JUDGED ON THEM? And that a woman must be able to do this to get a man? Seriously?

I don't even have the words right now to describe how mad/upset I am, by the videos and by the fact that this guy has a show.

I love how they do this sort

I love how they do this sort of thing and then five minutes later go into some of the most intense rounds of slut-shaming you will ever see on TV. Really, the entire premise of the show is fucking offensive. Barf.

yeah, know how you feel.

yeah, know how you feel. Kinda like watching Joy Behar.....upchucking right now.


Yeah, it's official. This boy makes my skin crawl. The way he leers at the girls. I just don't get how parading around in your panties equals to sexy. I think it begins with the women, though. It took me a long time (and some lousy fucking relationships with men) to realize that my sexy comes from within. I'm hittin' 44 the end of February, and I'm more comfortable in my skin now than when I was in my 20s! I almost feel sorry for these tewnty-somethings sometimes, man. You realize the road of growth they're traveling. I hear a lot of women around my age saying they'd love to go back to their 20s. Not me, baby! MAYBE 30. That's when I really started having fun in life! It's not perfect, but that's the joy of the travel. Learning, personal growth, making better decisions. I remember how I used to sacrifice my feelings just for the sake of getting some guy's attention. Hell, I didn't even realize I was doing it at the time...I do now! Knowledge n growth, y'all!!! At this point in my life, I'd rather do without a man than be with one just to say 'I got a man!' Listen, if I git dat feeling, God gave me 10 fingers n Johnson's gave me baby oil. Holla!!!

nice advice

props for you ladybuggin66.

I'm only 19 now but I like what your saying. Besides why go after a douchey guy when you have your own ten fingers and some lube? Hahaha! I'll stop there.

I wish someone would stuff that porcupine douche's foot in his mouth. He is sick and vile and he makes me want to slam my head against the wall. :P

Hey Latoya! Good to see you

Hey Latoya! Good to see you over here! I'm an avid reader of Racialicious.

Anyways, this show always bothered me because he seems very condescending to the women on the show and it's as if he's talking to them like they're idiots. As if they're little ninnies who just don't know shit about anything.

Ok, so these women have trouble finding a man. Big freaking deal! I hate how this show highlights how WRONG it is to be single! As if being single is having a mark of death on your forehead, saying that I'M A FREAK! I'M SINGLE!. Being single isn't bad. And if someone has serious issues with men, then I would suggest them to see a therapist who specializes in whatever their problems are, not go to on national television and make a spectacle of yourself. To each their own.

I would only take his advice at face value and with a grain of salt.

Is it just me, or does VH1 have a tendency to have shows that portray women in a very negative light? First there was Flavor of Love. Then there was Rock of Love. Sure, the women on those seasons consented to being on the show in the first place, but then again, the producers purposefully choose women with a certain look, and who behave in a certain way. Dr Drew said that basically, producers for these shows choose people with personality disorders and give them alcohol and film it. It's like the worst of the worst. We have women having sex with Flavor Flav and Bret Michaels, on TV, we have women skinny dipping, binge drinking, etc. I'm not saying that women should behave in a certain way, what I am saying is that these shows need to stop showing women behaving in such negative manners. (of course, VH1 also has shows that portray men in a negative light, but it seems to be more humorous than a trainwreck, see Daisy of Love, and Tool Academy).

And then there is this show, which puzzles me, because on the surface, it seems as though it's trying to help women, but at the same time, it's showing women who are (for the most part) put together and successful, who happen to have problems finding a man. My problem with it is the "finding a man" part. It's the whole "single women are doomed" and the "singledom is a plague" idea that our society seems to embrace.

I think we need to be teaching our youngsters that being single is OK, that you might not find your "perfect somebody" and that everyone has problems, and that they won't be solved by going on national TV.

I think part of the reason why these women are having issues with men is because of unreal expectations that society and our culture has put on women to find a mate and procreate. Everyone expects to find that "special someone", and we can see this in the wedding industry, the numerous shows about weddings, Valentine's Day, those asinine romantic comedies where EVERYTHING works out fine in the end, (and it rarely does in reality) and, well, you can fill in the rest. We need to change society's ideal that being single is bad, because it's really not. I'm actually the only non-single person I know practically, and all of my friends are very happy being single and in their mid-20s.

I just wish there wasn't so much pressure on women to find a man in order to be happy.

this show is fake !

fist of all most of the girls on here are actress , I seen one of the girls in another show , Secound of all this guy steve is still single as of my knowing , oh wate he is in a realtionship but its with his mom . I also think he might be gay . Also why would you want dating advice from someone who is single . Also his rules they are not in order that is annoying .

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