Saturday I put in a disposable pair of contacts (screw you, pink eye!) and went for a run with my bff. We ran a fairly usual route for us that involved a populated neighborhood, fairly busy main road, and park among other areas. It also apparently involved running through the Invisible Dome of Perv-os. I think we were shouted at and honked at about 4-5 times. I give that run two middle fingers, up!
But seriously – this is what women talk about in random Facebook comment threads when men post about how they love to run without their “tech stuff” (meaning their phones). We can’t. We don’t have the luxury. I run with a pepper spray canister in a little glove on my hand. Bonus: it contains a dye so that any Stranger Danger will later be identifiable to the cops. Super! I have no idea what it’s like to “leave my gear at home and be free” – free to be MURDERED?!
When I run by myself, I send my husband a notification through an app so he knows where I am and that will alert him if I suddenly stop moving or don’t finish in the appropriate amount of time. I’d love to tell you what that app is, but HOW DO I KNOW YOU WON’T USE IT AGAINST ME.
One run, I saw the same sketchy truck a few times too many. Maybe he was coming home for lunch and then forgot his cell phone. Maybe he was scoping out a nice MURDER for later. I memorized his plates. Nothing like the fun games you play during a run, am I right? Some people pretend they’re Kenyan, I pretend I’m Keith Morrison from Dateline.
After the horrific real-life murders of several female runners last summer, my mom was about to come undone every time I told her I was running (in the woods alone, no less). And goddammit, the news re-running the stories ruined my woods for like, weeks. Instead of clearing my head and focusing on my breathing, I was mentally rehearsing how I would break free from an attacker and make sure I got him in the face with my spray. Every big tree with a shadow became suspicious. My anxiety-fueled imagination needs no help. Those women were out doing what we all do and they died – because some unstable, twatwaffle had interpersonal issues that made murder seem like an a-okay idea. That fucking sucks.
Of course it’s a big leap from a truck full of Saturday drivers shouting unintelligibly at us, to murdering ass-clowns. But…it’s all part of the same big shit sandwich. The reason that even in 500 degree heat with 1000% humidity I’ll at least wear a tank top vs wearing only my sports bra. The reason that I deliberately choose to wear run-clothes that make me look insane. I favor skulls and one pair of leggings has a logo of a giant gun strapped to the leg. I never leave without my pepper spray. If I get annoyed and flip off a creep or make a face, I immediately follow that thought with “Bad call, I hope he doesn’t come back!”
Saturday, my bff said: “I just flipped that car off. Shit, now we’re going to be murdered.”
Maybe these guys don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. Maybe they legitimately think women running are appreciative because you know, we’re out there training like fucking SAVAGES because we want to be treated like it’s Friday night at the clubs. I don’t know. I’ve never stopped running long enough to ask one of them.
I’m about to put on my “Nevertheless she persisted” dry-fit top and tackle rape-culture, but nah. The main thing is: don’t. Just…don’t. If you see a lady and she’s out pounding pavement, it isn’t for you. It’s for her. She isn’t wearing a tank top for you, it’s because it’s hot. She isn’t wearing tight clothes for you, it’s because she’s a runner. She isn’t doing anything that men don’t do without thinking twice. So stop being a shit – because we won’t stop running, regardless.