When I was a teenager my coach used to give us training programmes for sessions we should do when we weren’t under his watchful eye at the track. This would usually involve a run of some kind which I’d undertake along the roads near my house. Back then my mum would insist on sending my brother out on his bike to ‘keep me company’. I would agree grudgingly but looking back it was her way of feeling her 14 year old daughter was safe.
Fast forward to today and I am nearing my 33rd birthday. I am a grown woman. I am confident and I am fairly sensible. If I go running then I stick to my familiar routes and tell my husband where I’m going. This however does not make me immune to what has become a regular occurrence during my runs. Young men, in groups, in cars, shouting abuse and obscenities at me while I’m running.
Last week it happened to me twice during one run, in broad daylight, and for some reason this time I couldn’t ignore it. I was angry and fed up. One of the groups had shouted so loudly at me that I had jumped in fright. The second car yelled something disgusting at me and I’m afraid I yelled something back about them being a Considerate Understanding Nice Type. I came back and I unleashed my bad temper on Twitter, which was probably a bit pointless and my swearing probably upset people but I was upset. Really upset.
I’ve been shouted at and catcalled during runs before and I haven’t let it bother me so why did it get to me this time? Probably because these boys (and that’s what they are) think it’s acceptable to shout at a lone woman out running, something that can make you feel vulnerable at times. Maybe it’s because I’m fed up with the attitudes to women and those who think it’s ok to treat women like this. And yes I am a feminist. Maybe I don’t think of it as flattering because I don’t run to satisfy the urges of pathetic idiots. Maybe I worry about the teenage girls I have seen out running who may be intimidated by these men and might stop training.
We shouldn’t ignore it. We shouldn’t put up with it. I shouldn’t have to find people to go running with so that I’m safe. They don’t shout at men who are running. Why should it be different for me? Why should I change my behaviour when it is they that are in the wrong?
For some reason a woman trying to better herself seems to bring out the insecurities of these clowns and they feel the need to take them out on female runners. Next time I’m shouted at, if I can, I will take the number plates of the cars transporting these idiots and I will be reporting them to the police. It is sexual harassment and it is unacceptable. Ladies if you are intimidated by men in cars while running then I suggest you should do the same.