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Opinion

An Open Letter to the Men Who Insult Women's Looks

Ah, the duality of man. Donald Trump paid sex worker Stormy Daniels for sex, and they engaged in an affair in 2006 when he was a ripe 60 years old and she just 27. Then Trump reportedly paid her $130,000 to shut up about it. Years later, in 2018, he calls her “Horseface”—capital H and all—in a tweet Tuesday morning. Because it’s super convincing that a man who sincerely believes a woman is appalling would pay her to sleep with him. Okay.

Trump is always hurling an inordinate slew of insults at women, but of his everyday bigotry, racism and misogyny, this one prompts a greater question to all the men who are unquestionably less pleasant-looking than us: Why are you fucking us, nay, begging and paying to fuck us, if we’re ass-ugly, hideous monsters? I should mention in 2006, Daniels was the literal embodiment of conventional beauty. The psychology behind the aforementioned verbal abuse is rejection sprinkled with narcissism and demand for power, but it’s become something women face despite never having touched the man berating them with cruelties.

Every woman has probably, at some point, been involved in a relationship where a man has insulted their appearance, often leaving psychological scars that take years to overcome. Being labeled ugly or fat at any point in a relationship has always been like some sort of ghastly, male damage control—like men want us to believe we sucked the whole time, and they never actually found us attractive, but they were probably dating us out of sympathy.

The shittiest part is this isn’t specific to any age group, at least according to my recollection. The first time I can remember it happening to me was in 6th grade...when I was 11. It's continued to occur in my relationships well into adulthood, and though we all want to believe we couldn’t possibly enter a caprice so riddled with offensiveness, we never really see it coming, do we? Insults against one's physical appearance are arguably the worst kind—they’re often bigoted, mentioning things about ourselves we can’t change. They also often involve microaggressions; men have asked me, “Are you actually biracial? You’re really pretty for being Iranian.”
Whatever the online world has evolved into, social media has allowed men to cut corners on rejection, as if they’re doing damage control before any damage has transpired.
And even though I know such insults aren’t reserved for men only, women have less social capital if they don’t keep up their looks. According to a 2017 study by beauty retailer SkinStore, women spend an average of $300,000 on beauty products in their lifetime—and that’s allegedly just your regular, earthly American woman. Whereas men, historically, can scrape by on charisma alone. Or “genius.” Or even just humor. It's my own personal belief that women are notably less shallow (quote me on it), and often date men who are beneath them. Maybe men know that, and retaliate in what small, pathetic ways they can.

Whatever the online world has evolved into, social media has allowed men to cut corners on rejection, as if they’re doing damage control before any damage has transpired. They comment on our photos and message us, knowing full well they have no business even having an opinion on our looks, and (hopefully) knowing we’d never get intimate with them anyway. While it’s now considered an incel approach to insult women like this, men have been doing this to us since the dawn of social media, and before that, via email and offline—no doubt, before “incel” was a word we used to describe anything. Like, literally for thousands of years. So, while social media has assuredly amplified it, why does it happen at all?

The harassment online is incessant. And it seems like those permeating it feel like they’re giving us tips, to make ourselves more attractive according to their tastes. Men online tell me my lip injections look bad, that I’d be prettier if I smiled, that my face seems frozen from botox (which I don’t have), that my body looks photoshopped (I wish it were), that my breasts aren’t big enough, and curiously often, that I look like a man—which may be the most mentally immature insult a dude could muster. Are they bored? Who hates women so much they expel their limited daily energy on telling us what they think is wrong with us? In reality, there’s nothing wrong with me, and maybe they're insulting me because they know if we crossed paths at a bar, I wouldn’t talk to them, and would likely actively ignore or try to get away from them if they approached me.

Sorry, I don’t owe any of them anything. None of us do.

These insults are notoriously bad for sex workers, especially LGBTQ sex workers and those who are differently abled. Lauren, 21, a sex worker with one arm (due to a moped accident), went viral for her dark sense of humor surrounding the loss of her arm on her Tinder bio in 2017. She’s since amassed more than 130,000 followers across social platforms, one of which wrote her: “Hope you lose your other arm in a meat blender ya crab riddled mutant. Wouldn’t ride you into battle ya diseases ginger looking veg ass curry munching cunt.”

While Lauren is not a redhead, and the curry-munching part feels racist toward people of South Asian ethnicity (Lauren is white), it’s pretty typical of the consistent male hatred she receives daily. But the unusual facet is that this dude isn’t just being reprehensible, he’s actually interested in her, and definitely considers her attractive, laid evident by the following selfie and video of himself masturbating. It’s almost like he figured he’d do rejection damage control before she inevitably responds with zero sexual interest whatsoever. Lauren hypothesizes that such behavior is less about appearance and more about power, as if to say, “I STILL can’t have you, even though you have a quality I deem lesser-than (in my case missing an arm) and that’s unfair to me.” Every so often, she’s contemplates asking said men why they feel the need to weigh in on her look, but has concluded they likely “lack the intellect to pinpoint” their hatred for women.
Do these men think they’ll earn respect among other men on web forums—or a personal letter of recognition from our dear president? Do they treat women in their real lives like this, too, or is it reserved for the one you don’t have to come face-to-face with? Do they hate women who use their bodies for monetary purposes because they’re jealous they can’t? Do they hate us because they’re scared of us? Do they think we're inferior, or do they know that they are? Or is it just learned behavior from the men in power today?

What’s the root of this? Because Stormy Daniels—and Lauren—are undeniably beautiful women. And we all keep claiming “toxic masculinity” as the cause of everything bad, but it feels like we’re still so far from figuring out why this behavior continue. And why, in a world that has become to vocal about reprimanding men’s bad behavior, do they knowingly continue to make the world a shittier place for women to live in? Wouldn’t you think men would evolve a bit?

There’s always the next generation.

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