Ever since the news of Mollie Tibbetts’ death broke, news outlets and social media have been full of opinions about women runners. CNN’s headline read “A startling number of women say they have been harassed while running.” Really? Startling to whom? I have plenty of female runner friends and I bet most, if not all, would say that they have experienced some form of harassment while running. Probably more than a few times.
Yes, I completely agree that we must be aware of our surroundings while we’re running. We should run with groups when we can, run in populated, well-lit areas, and perhaps even carry mace. When I do run alone, I let my husband or a friend know the route/general direction I’m headed. I even took a women’s self-defense class last spring and now know (in theory) how to fend off an attacker. But we’re more likely to be harassed than attacked while we’re out running. Just because I put on shorts and a tank top for my run DOES NOT MAKE IT OK for men to yell, honk, hiss, or whistle at me while I’m running. Under no circumstances is this acceptable. Ever. Unfortunately, there is no “self-defense” for this. It is a societal problem!
“If you run or jog, tips about awareness are common, exhaustive even. The reality is that these tips, always geared towards women, likely won’t make violence against us any less pervasive. Our own alertness won’t make men feel any less entitled to harass women.
It is simply not our fault… Women do not exist for the mindless consumption, whether verbally or physically, of men. Respecting women really comes down to respecting our boundaries—from the bedroom, to the track, and on the open road.” – Glamour
Fortunately, I’ve seen men stand up for women. Mindsets like this must be more pervasive throughout our culture. I scrolled though my Twitter feed and saw this one from @d9monti: “I heard an “expert” on the news last night say “women shouldn’t run in rural areas.” What? That’s just stupid. Women can run wherever the hell they want. It’s society’s job to make sure they can do it safely.”
I completely agree. We all have a role to play in making our towns a safe place for women (and men). I’m starting with this post. What will you do?