I was appalled when I listed to a Runner’s World podcast (episode 28) about female runners called “Running While Female.” Here is a link to the article on the Runner’s World website. According to the article, 43 percent of women at least sometimes experience harassment on the run, from the results of a recent RW survey, compared with just 4 percent of men. Even as a female runner, I was surprised to hear just how prevalent this problem is. I’ve been running for much of my life and somehow I have escaped the true depths of this.
As a female runner, I have been catcalled by men while out running a few times. Fortunately for me, that’s the worst I’ve ever had to encounter but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to bring awareness to this problem. For many other women, they are harassed by men while running every single time they run. This is unacceptable and should be brought to an end.
When I wrote my post about running while traveling and being safe, 5 Tips How Runners Can Stay Safe and Healthy When Traveling, another blogger responded that she was almost attacked while on a run in Madrid. Someone tried to grab her and luckily she was able to get away from him. That’s scary stuff, though. Women should not be yelled at, grabbed, touched, followed, or otherwise harassed when out for a run.
Running is supposed to be an escape, a time to get away from our problems, and de-stress. Women shouldn’t be stressed out about being harassed before they even get out the door or have to cut their run short after being harassed. Sadly, some women have even stopped running because of being harassed while out running.
What can we do?
Women and men both need to begin spreading the word about this. I applaud Runner’s World for bringing attention to this. We need to tell our husbands, boyfriends, friends, brothers, sons, co-workers, runner buddies and anyone else we can think of that this kind of behavior is not acceptable and must be stopped. If you’re a male and are out with other males and one of them yells out something to a female runner or does something else that’s inappropriate, let them know it’s not OK to do that.
Several things were mentioned in the podcast that women can do to protect themselves while running. These include carrying pepper spray, running with others, not running when it’s dark, altering your running route, and even getting a license to carry a small handgun. I say do whatever makes you feel safe and whatever keeps you safe.
Harassment of women by men is a world-wide problem and goes beyond just running, but we can at least start to address this problem. Baby steps.