Summer Time

BY KATE  reposted from Kate Runs.

I woke up this morning with summer weighing heavily on my mind – thoughts of camping, hiking, biking, running, beaches, lakes, kayaking and general frolicking have me distracted. Today was a perfect summer morning, with bright sunlight and a slight breeze, forecasted highs in the low 80′s. I’m ready for next week’s break (Jack and I both have the week off), even if it means insanity today and tomorrow trying to tie up loose ends ahead of my absence.

I wasn’t quite ready to write about yesterday’s run when I returned. The run itself was a lovely, 68-degree 5.5 miles around the Greenway and the Esplanade (isn’t that view such an improvement from this?), and started out innocuously enough with my pondering once again the reasons some object to slower runners in their midst; perhaps I’ll share some additional theories here at a later date.

The infuriating part of my lunchtime run yesterday came in the form of several unrelated catcalling incidents.

Men of the World: STOP IT.

“Mami,” “Baby,” “Honey,” “Wow,” “Damn,” “That’s the stuff,” “Why you jogging? Keep that ass!” and “Oh, shit!” are all unacceptable ways to address me, or my backside as I pass you. Do not whistle. Do not hiss. Do not pull up alongside me and ask me for my number.

None of these things are compliments. They are not funny. They are not acceptable, and certainly they are not endearing. I do not run for your amusement or your approval, and I did not ask for your feedback. It is insulting, it is threatening, it is exhausting to ignore and it is harassment.

I should mention that this is not an isolated or unusual occurrence, and certainly not something that impacts only me. Some days, I find myself almost amused; almost always, I find the behavior pathetic. Yesterday, I was not in the mood, and found myself particularly enraged.

To those who will suggest that I run in a different neighborhood – I certainly wish that I could say that running in my tiny hometown in rural PA (or, as yesterday, along the Esplanade) didn’t involve similar perils.

To those who will argue that short shorts and sports bras are bound to attract attention (what kind of blame-the-victim pig are you?), I will note that I, firstly, don’t believe that that should make it acceptable to comment at will on a stranger’s physical appearance, and secondly that I seldom run in anything above the knee or with bare shoulders (let alone midriff), for personal comfort and sun protection reasons.

To those who will insist that I am a humorless crank who can’t take a joke or a compliment, I suggest you pay a bit more attention to your surroundings the next time you’re out with your girlfriend, your daughter or your sister. Behavior like this is certainly not aimed solely at runners – it just happens to be the time when I find it most frustrating. (I’m sweaty. I’m salt-stained. I smell a little. I’m panting and focusing on my stride and trying to finish my last mile and I would like very much not to hear from you.) Keep your eyes and ears open, and see if you don’t find yourself appalled.

Most importantly, if you happen to be reading this and thinking that any of those tactics I listed above sound like good fun and why didn’t you think of that – STOP IT. If you wouldn’t say it to your mother, don’t say it to me when you eat my dust.

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2 Responses

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  1. Kate Z says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this here! I took some flack for writing about harassment on my running blog – but it’s a huge part of where I choose to run, and when, and it’s important!

  2. Kathleen says:

    This is a great piece of writing. There is always an excuse that people will use for why the interaction and the offense you take at it is your fault. Men need to look around and understand that offering physical assessments and sexual solicitations to women just because they happen to be near you is unacceptable. Unfortunately, an accurate way I heard one person analogize the situation was if a man acted that way and said those things… to a fellow inmate in a prison. The sexual connotation and element of threat is exactly the same, though for some, without the same deliberate intent.

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