Tuesday, August 29, 2017

I Don't "Identify" as a "Feminist". Or DO I?

I'm actually contemplating this post as I write it which isn't particularly unusual for me, as I write pretty much like I think. I went for a run last night and I got whistled at, followed by some unintelligible attempt at speech that sounded more like the gutteral rambling of a prehistoric neanderthal seeing woman for the first time. The rest of my run (cut short because it got dark) spent loosely reciting this post in my head.

We've been hearing (for a long time) things like "driving while female" and if you google you'll also find speaking, walking, talking, working, aging, and more to the point of my post running while female.

These topics of "fill in the blank while female" are so vast that I can't begin to touch on them in just one post. Because of this, at present I'm going to stay with one that I identify most with at the current time...


Running While Female

I've been a runner for going on 5 years now. I've been catcalled, whistled at, propositioned. Likely every woman has walked by a group of men at some point in time or another (construction workers often get this stigma) and been inappropriately addressed. I seem to be a favorite of Hispanic men (is it just me?) and their fluent Spanish that I do not understand.

Boys, I may not always understand what you're saying, but I do comprehend the lewd gestures. Just saying.

I've been offered rides (to the elderly gentleman that offered me a ride because I had fallen and tore up my hands and knees, you are not included in this. Again, thank you!), I've had cars stop at stop signs and just sit there, watching. I've heard the ever-so-originally-creative (did you think of that all by yourself?) "Run, Forrest, Run!" I've heard "hey baby/sexy/girl", "run on over here", "don't make me chase you!", "lookin' good, girl/lady/bitch".

I've been told to "go fucking home!" by a pizza delivery man, who then followed it to his friend with, "watch this!" and proceeded to speed to the next corner to turn around and come back my way. They drove off when I turned down a street with people sitting on their porches.

I've been "moo'd" at. Both when I was 117lbs and 160lbs. It's not about weight. It's about shame and degradation.

Stop and think about that for a moment. What kind of man, what kind of person moos at another human being? What does said person hope to accomplish? Is the other person going to get right home and go on a diet? Purge themselves of whatever they had for dinner? Be ashamed to exercise in public? Be ashamed to go outside? What do you hope to accomplish? Does it make you feel better to make another person, one that you most likely have never even met, feel bad about themselves?

What is so wrong in your life that this is how you pass the time?

I have a girlfriend that won't run alone because she is overweight and men yell derogatory things out their windows from the safety of their cars. And it pisses me off . I tell her that these men are fat slobs shoving cheeseburgers into their gaping maws between verbal barrages on women runners. I tell her that when their heart inevitably attacks, that I'll just jiggle on by. But it's not enough.

Women are often afraid to defend themselves in these instances. We're more likely to be assaulted, raped, murdered. We've been taught by society that it's safer to smile or laugh or ignore.

Now lets stop and think about that for a moment as well. A run. An exercise routine that many people prefer to do outside in nature. This activity that brings entertainment, comfort, and HEALTH to so many is unsafe for approximately half of the population. For women. Read that again. Running outside can be unsafe for women. 

What?

Men, who do you think you are? Who the FUCK do you think you are?! How dare you.

I cross the street when I find myself sharing the sidewalk with a man. When I do have to pass closely to a man, I find myself defensive. Don't ask me the time, don't ask me directions. I won't stop for you. In fact, I may just run a little faster. I have carried my keys between my fingers, wound my ball chain keychain around my knuckles. I've carried pepper spray. They make many "female running safety devices" (why do I even have to put those four words into succession?!) for self defense in case of being attacked on a run.

I wave and say hello or good morning or good evening, but what if I don't do it because I'm a nice person but simply because I'm afraid that if I'm not friendly that you will hurt me?

Woman are getting killed while running.
Runner's World, Police Investigating Three Recent Deaths of Female Runners
Boston Globe, The Real Dangers of Running While Female

All cars contain possible attackers. All men potential assailants.

To the decent men out there, you should be livid. These women are your mothers, your sisters, wives, girlfriends, friends, daughters. And we're afraid to run alone, to defend ourselves.

I was a nighttime runner. Nine p.m. shouldn't be too late for a woman to be out alone. One a.m., two a.m. shouldn't be too late for women to be out alone. There is no time that should be unsafe for us, no place unsafe, simply because we're female. This world is ours too.

Huffington Post,  16 Women Share What It's Really Like To Go Running While Female

I need feminism because I have to plan my workout around when I'm the least likely to be attacked.

So am I a feminist? Yes.

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