A post addressed to the men who called me ugly

by On Becoming Anna

A couple of months ago, my best friends and I went away to Barcelona, and on the way had a small stop over in Holland – we were visiting our friend who lived there. Being tourists and the absolute maniacs we are, a trip to Amsterdam was an absolute necessity.We only had time for a day trip, so in the typical British style, we spent the entire day wandering around the Red Light District and giggling. Whilst we did have an amazing time and I will 100% be returning in the near future, something did happen that put a small downer on my day.

At some point during our little visit, the heavens decided to open and we had to take refuge in the nearest bar (what a shame). We had some drinks and waited until the rain stopped, then left the bar to continue our aimless tour of all the naked ladies in their little boxes. As we stumbled out into the road, we were met by a group of ten or so 30ish year old men. In our Amsterdam infused haze, we walked on by without much notice, but the men were going in the same direction as us and were clearly just as intoxicated as we were (if not, probably more). They were shouting and flopping about quite loudly, and I heard the ring leader of the group shout around to his mates, ‘Oi lads, check this one out! What an absolute millennial robin hood’, which was met in an enormous outburst of laughter. In my attempt to comprehend what on earth was going on, I turned around to find to my absolute dismay, that they were all pointing and laughing at me.

??????????????

What on earth did that even mean?

Thankfully, my confusion, and indeed anyone else who was near us at that time, soon found out the translation of this cleverly encrypted language. To my absolute joy, they were soon all pointing at me, laughing to each other, and calling me a ‘modern day munter’.

:))))))))))))) thanks guys.

Now, this was definitely not the first time I have been called ugly, nor, I’m sure, will it be the last, but there was something a bit different about this experience in comparison to others. It wasn’t quite like only being rated a 5/10 on the shagging scale when I was 12, and then feeling depressed about it for a week. It was more calculated. More demeaning. I felt intentionally humiliated. These men were almost old enough to be my dad, and had developed a special code in order to rate girls to their faces, without them being able to understand what ‘score’ they had been given, and then shouted mine out to everyone. As if it is a privilege to be able to decipher what these men thought of me.

What on earth gave these people the right to rate, and then publicly shame me in front of each other? Am I not worth slightly more than a two second glance before being judged? Is there honestly still a generation that are so openly shallow and so publicly sexist, that they behave like 12 year old boys who are taught that you’re mean to girls if you fancy them?  What is so ‘masculine’ about shaming women?

It was really depressing to me that these men made such a rash judgement about me, simply because of what I was wearing. It’s worrying to know that a simple pair of shorts can cause people to assume your sexual deviancy, and that the amount of people I had slept with would immediately lower my self worth. I am by no means a body confident person, but I know for a fact that I am not a munter, a slag, nor do I have a ‘saggy fat arse’ , as one of them so kindly awarded me.

Their words actually hurt me in the moment, but whats more hurtful is how this is so acceptable within our modern day culture. Rape culture is so embedded within our society, that most of the time we don’t even realise it’s happening. The way those men spoke about me was actually really aggressive, and would be harmful to the ego and self-development of anyone. This is the kind of language that circulates in the playground, and teaches boys to demean women instantly for the way that they look.Had I not been surrounded by boys, I feel as though this story may have had a different ending.

I actually felt quite pretty before I went out that day, and being called ugly by middle aged men really isn’t the most hurtful of insults; in fact it’s pretty juvenile to think that my entire self worth is based on whether strange, drunk men find me attractive.  But girls including myself, are bombarded with mixed messages, telling them they need to be desirable, but not desirable on their own terms. If those men had seen a picture of a girl in her underwear, she may have been called sexy, ‘bangable’, a solid 10/10. But if the same girl had posted a picture of herself on social media in her underwear, it’s highly likely she’d have been bombarded with harassment, calling her an attention seeking whore, or something along those lines.

I by no means, have let these men upset me beyond that split second of humiliation; I know they were just fuelled off testosterone, weed and the loving touch of their right hands whilst watching a peep show, and I have a lot more respect for myself to be insulted by being called a munter (I mean seriously, are we 11?), but what they said really has stayed with me. I know that they were just shallow people that I will never see again, but this is not the kind of behaviour that I should just shrug off as a normal part of wearing small shorts, or of being a girl, or of having a body.

It’s definitely made me think more about how we talk about people, and how shallow society is being moulded to be. I really wish I’d have been able to tell those men how they made me feel that day and the kind of culture they were appropriating; I’d have loved to have been able to shame them for the way they behaved, told their wives and mothers how they believe it’s acceptable to talk about women. I hope they don’t tell their children ‘not to wear that because it’ll give people the wrong impression’, and I hope they don’t go on to teach that wearing a short skirt or dress is something to be ashamed of. What you wear and how you carry yourself is nothing to do with the kind of person you are, your sexual activity is in no way reflective of your self worth, and no one should be subject to judgement in this kind of way from anyone.

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