In my second year at university, I worked behind the bar at a local pub in Exeter, owned by my landlords. I only worked Sundays but it was a good way to earn a little pocket money (i.e. purchase all that expensive cheese I can't get enough of). But first, let me paint a picture for you. The average clientele on a Sunday afternoon was (and still is, I’m sure) over 60, male, and - in want of a better phrase - touchy-feely. They’d pinch my bottom as I walked past them, or peer lasciviously at my chest. My appearance was the hot topic of conversation; as much as I’d love to say it’s because I look like Gisele Bündchen, let’s get real here. I couldn’t work out whether I loved the attention, or despised the leering audacity. I forgave them because they were old, which in my mind made it OK. But was it? And they weren’t the only ones…
Some cricketers came into the pub one evening and descended on the bar like a pack of hungry wolves. Looking at me like I was their prize, they came to an agreement: “she’s an 8 out of 10.” And they told me. They asked to shake my hand, congratulating me on my ‘achievement’. After all, 8 out of 10 was a ‘respectable’ score. "Wow, lucky me", I thought. They vocally measured up my chest size in front of me, and each took it in turns to ask for my phone number.
I was even asked on a couple dates by some younger, local pub-goers. And when I say younger, I mean “are you even potty trained?” First there was Charlie*. Charlie initially liked me to believe that he was 18. Moreover, Charlie was evidently very much of the opinion that age is only a number, which must be why he kept on changing it. I can only assume this was because he thought I had the memory of a goldfish and wouldn't latch on. After the youngster chatted me up in the pub, he managed to find me on Facebook (the woes of being the only Montana in a billion mile radius), and decided to add me. Of course I rejected his inquiry into my personal life, but that didn’t stop me investigating. It didn’t take long for me to notice that the boy’s Facebook profile clearly stated he was only 17.
The next time Charlie came into the pub, asking for a pint, I stopped him in his tracks. “Can I see some ID please?” I snarled. He paused. When - out of curiosity at his response - I asked him what year he was born, he stammered “errr…well, ummm…err, March..13th..1990?” A year which would have meant he was over a year older than me, and much older than the 18 years he’d claimed to be on our first encounter. All very confusing I know. Rule no. 1 boys: learn how to add and subtract if you want to ask a girl out on a date.
It also transpired that a couple other local men at the pub, slightly closer to my age, were keen to sweep me off my feet (#desperatetimes). I was warned that one of them was “trouble”, and the other had kids (I know how to attract ‘em). The father-of-two invited me to watch a movie at his (Sleeping Beauty or Bambi?) which I politely declined, while the former invited me to a grotty pub with him for a drink. In a “I knew you were trouble” (courtesy of Tay-Tay aka Taylor Swift) moment, I naively accepted his request. We got there and sat down on a sofa, and probably spoke about something inconsequential. Not long after, a man and woman walked in and 'Mr Trouble' got up and said to me “I’ll be back in a minute”. The couple came to sit opposite me and, assuming they were friends of my newfound buddy, I extended my hand to them and introduced myself. I noticed that the guy held my hand strangely, as if I were trying to pass something to him. I remember thinking it was odd. Then 'Mr Trouble' came back to his seat with a rucksack. In a flash, I noticed that the couple opposite me were getting up to leave and there was a £20 note by my heel which was quickly tucked into a jacket pocket. In a split second, there had been a scandalous operation happening right under my very nose. I demanded immediately, "Did you just deal drugs in front of me?” Defensively he said, “Is that a problem? I respect the fact that you don’t deal drugs, so you should respect the fact that I do.” That was genuinely his response. Dumbfounded, I downed my drink and made an excuse to leave.
I’ve already mentioned in a previous post my experience with a lying gym manager who hid the fact that he was married with kids, harassed me and stole personal data from my gym membership. So it’s probably time I told you about the guy I met at university who lied to me about having cancer. Yep, you read that right. Lied about having cancer. Given that someone is diagnosed with cancer every two minutes in the UK, it’s not something to joke about. Pretending you have cancer to win the affections of a girl - seriously? And it got even worse when I ultimately rejected his advances, so in bitter retaliation he branded me a “whore”. People I hadn’t even met before were labelling me a “bitch” who “liked to sleep around”, because I’d hurt the ego of a guy I didn’t fancy who’d lied about having cancer. Since when was this OK? At the time, he told me he was going to die and that he probably wouldn’t last the year. He told me that he was going for chemotherapy treatment, and that he needed moral support. It wasn’t until a couple years later when talking to a mutual friend that I found out it was all one massive lie, and he’d used the same deception on another unsuspecting victim.
So why have I written all this? Because countless women are in the habit of degrading themselves, of letting themselves be defined by the wrong things and the wrong people. So many women somehow inadvertently accept that they are inferior to men, and don't question the way they are treated. This must stop.
And finally, women: don't ever think that the greatest praise you can receive is a man telling you that you're "hot", because that's no achievement at all. If looking beautiful on the outside is all you think you can or should achieve in life, then you are truly undervaluing yourself.
*Not his real name