A very good friend and mentor of mine posted an angry rant on Facebook tonight about how she was followed by a group of teenage boys while out on her run tonight. They circled her four times while catcalling, whistling and shouting at her. She felt unsafe running near her home, in a city that is incredibly safe – the place I consider home.
I am genuinely pissed off by this act. As a runner, I understand the mental stamina that it takes to get out and run when we are already doing a million and one other exhausting and mundane daily tasks. The act of running is daunting which is what makes running so special.
The running community runs to escape the noise of the world around us, to push ourselves for improvement, to be alone, to enjoy the natural world around us, to maintain physical health, and so many other reasons…but that is stripped of us when we experience actions like this from others.
I have heard many of my runner friends – particularly those that identify as female – complain that they have felt unsafe or uneasy while out for a run because they have been followed, catcalled and shouted at. Rather than getting the needed escape from their run they are made to feel small, scared, and uncomfortable. This is so freaking upsetting.
One of the only activities that makes me feel alive, alone, connected and energized is running, and knowing that my runner friends don’t get this same feeling is something that trips me up and makes me think about this crazy world that we live in.
Why does this happen? Why are men so awful toward women? When did it become unacceptable for female – and male – runners to run in short shorts, no shirt/sports bra? How would you like it if I came to your living room, football game, or other place of solace and shouted, whistled and catcalled at you while you were trying to find your peace? Because that’s essentially what is happening here.
You don’t hear of other athletes feeling uncomfortable in their spheres of practice or performance…so why is running the targeted sport?
Is it because we often do it as individuals? Because, that again is what makes running so cool. We do it on our own, at our own pace and whenever and wherever we want. We’re on our own time and we are being pushed only by ourselves to do better.
Is it because we wear little to no clothing? Because, if that’s the case this gets into a whole different issue. The world hears so often “she was wearing revealing clothing. She wanted it.” from the mouths of alleged rapists, but its the same damn thing when you’re catcalling a runner.
Just because we wear short shorts does not mean we are asking to be looked at…in fact, please don’t look at us…quite often we have snot dripping down our face, spit on our shirts, sweat dripping from every possible inch of our body. We look like we’re dying. We’re gross. I mean come on, running is like the least beautiful and graceful sport out there.
So, I guess what I’m sharing in this post is that the running community needs to have each other’s backs, uplift each other, and support our running endeavors. To those of you that aren’t runners, please stay away from us while we’re running. To the young men in this world…grow the hell up. Be a gentleman, learn some manners, and respect the ladies – and other gentlemen – out there…because you know what they say about Karma. To Sarah – and all of my other runner friends – don’t let this hold you back from running. Stay strong, stay driven, maintain heart, and keep taking those photos and reporting behaviors like this to the police.
Help keep our running community safe and healthy please!