As a ginger person, long ago I got used to the fact that I’d be shouted at in the street by groups of lads just for existing – so much so that now, on approaching teens hanging about on street corners I revise my arsenal of potential cutting, nonchalant come backs to what they might be about to shout! (My fave is, “Is something wrong with your mouth? Something really weird just came out of it.”) So I was particularly interested in the article, “Running while female” in the latest Runner’s World magazine, which revealed the shocking prevalence of abuse shouted at women on the run – without even having ginger hair!
While not minimising this at all (it’s happened to many times, it was the reason I stopped running aged 15, and some of the incidents were insane – guys masturbating at lone females, men in cars slowing down to leer and follow them, like who are these guys??? Would they do that to their sister or their mum?).
I just wanted to big up the lads for a moment here. My partner Steve, my dad, my male relatives, all my male friends, obviously all my male run club friends, and two workmen while I was doing hill reps the other day. Rather than wolf whistling as I feared they might, they looked at me like I was crazy, then carried on with their jobs. With 3 reps out of 8 to go, I caught one of them’s eye and said, “Only 2 more after this!” Still no response. Until my penultimate rep.
“Gooooooo on!!!!!! You can do it!!!!!!” from both the guys, cheering me on, making me run my fastest rep yet. THIS kind of shouting on runs should be encouraged. If men want to shout something out to us ladies to impress other men – it should be genuine encouragement and admiration for our determination rather than sexual innuendoes which can’t help but be perceived by us ladies as threatening.
If guys want to shout, there are so many better options. Next time someone shouts something I don’t like at me, if it’s safe to do so, I’m going to stop and calmly, and friendlily give them a list of better options: “Nice one, good effort, go on, you can do it etc.”
Maybe gradually they’ll all catch on. What do you think?