I’m not generally one to “share” articles with friends. I read a lot online myself, but mostly keep to myself the things I think are good or bad or even mindless reads. I tend to overshare on this blog, but that’s just my personal stuff – and I overshare on Instagram, but hey, that’s just pictures of me running and food.
But in the last few months, two articles about being a woman runner and being safe have made me feel strongly enough to “share” them. Compounded with the whole hyper-masculine representation of a man who is trying to head our country, the issues that arise every single day in a woman’s life that are inherently different than a man’s (or most men’s, I should say) have been ringing bells in my head. I’m not going to go there politically, but I am going to go there from the “single feminist woman runner” standpoint.
I should begin by saying that I pride myself on being an independent, I-can-do-anything-you-can-do-better type of lady. I try to fix things myself before I ask for help. I mow my own damn lawn (okay, I did when I had a whole house to myself – now I rent one floor). I rarely see myself as a vulnerable woman. I am a reckless optimist: I need to believe that people are generally good and are not out to get me.
So go ahead and judge my character on that.
First, Runner’s World posted this article back in August: The Problem is Not Women Running Alone. This was after some publicized attacks on woman runners. This got me to thinking of all of the little things that I do on a daily basis to keep myself safe as a woman, not just running. I keep my keys in my hand while walking back to my car on campus after my night class. I keep my cell phone in my hand other times, ready to dial. When I run, I won’t run when it is pitch black out, even though I live in a very Mayberry-like town. In my last town, I used to run through an empty parking lot where trucks would sometimes idle. I’d purposely veer off away from the truck. I’ve had cars that slow down near me and honestly, I start to fear if they’re going to ask directions. I’ll only consider it if I’m in a well populated area and broad day light – and I’m still hoping it will be a woman behind that window, and surely go nowhere near the car. Nothing against men, but I am a big woman – I know I have a fighting chance if I’m attacked by a woman. A man? Who knows. As the article says, I’m doing everything I can to make sure I’m safe…. but I can’t help but believe that I can’t solve this problem alone.
The second: An Open Letter to Men from Female Runners on Active.com by Dorothy Beal (creator of #irunthisbody and #ihavearunners body – LOVE IT). I couldn’t help but pass this along. The seemingly innocent interactions she talks about are ones we all encounter – in life and in running – the creepers following us, the innocent questions that we don’t know if they’re really innocent… The guy behind you in Starbucks who asks you if you’re single, and you’re not quite sure if he’s a nice dude or a total creeper (could really go either way). These things put you on edge as a woman. Sure, a person sharing a compliment is welcome – but when it is left as a lingering open ended question, not so much. Likewise with seeing men on the run: you just don’t know what you’re getting. Maybe you’ll get cursed out for not smiling back – kind of like when your boss says to you, “smile more” and you want to punch him square in the jaw. People don’t say that sh*t to men. The sad fact is that we, as ladies, have to judge every interaction in the context of: “is this potentially dangerous.” And as an optimist, that makes me incredibly sad, even though I do it without thinking myself.
These articles bring to light to me, as a single lady and runner, the pure fact that women still fear men exists. The catcalls and whistles might be harmless or – but the fact that I need to be cautious when a car slows near makes me think that the threat is alive and real. Maybe this is just me being reminded that there are still people in the world who could take advantage of me, or that could render ME, independent ME, powerless. Either way – I can’t help but think that all of these things being brought into the spotlight right now are important reminders that we still have work to do in making women feel safe, strong, and in charge of their own lives.
…back to your regularly scheduled carefree run-updates soon… Hope you enjoyed this feminist interlude 🙂