background image

I woke up this morning with summer weighing heavily on my mind – thoughts of camping, hiking, biking, running, beaches, lakes, kayaking and general frolicking have me distracted. Today was a perfect summer morning, with bright sunlight and a slight breeze, forecasted highs in the low 80’s. I’m ready for next week’s break (Jack and I both have the week off), even if it means insanity today and tomorrow trying to tie up loose ends ahead of my absence.

I wasn’t quite ready to write about yesterday’s run when I returned. The run itself was a lovely, 68-degree 5.5 miles around the Greenway and the Esplanade (isn’t that view such an improvement from this?), and started out innocuously enough with my pondering once again the reasons some object to slower runners in their midst; perhaps I’ll share some additional theories here at a later date.

The infuriating part of my lunchtime run yesterday came in the form of several unrelated catcalling incidents.

Men of the World: STOP IT.

“Mami,” “Baby,” “Honey,” “Wow,” “Damn,” “That’s the stuff,” “Why you jogging? Keep that ass!” and “Oh, shit!” are all unacceptable ways to address me, or my backside as I pass you. Do not whistle. Do not hiss. Do not pull up alongside me and ask me for my number.

None of these things are compliments. They are not funny. They are not acceptable, and certainly they are not endearing. I do not run for your amusement or your approval, and I did not ask for your feedback. It is insulting, it is threatening, it is exhausting to ignore and it is harassment.

I should mention that this is not an isolated or unusual occurrence, and certainly not something that impacts only me. Some days, I find myself almost amused; almost always, I find the behavior pathetic. Yesterday, I was not in the mood, and found myself particularly enraged.

To those who will suggest that I run in a different neighborhood – I certainly wish that I could say that running in my tiny hometown in rural PA (or, as yesterday, along the Esplanade) didn’t involve similar perils.

To those who will argue that short shorts and sports bras are bound to attract attention (what kind of blame-the-victim pig are you?), I will note that I, firstly, don’t believe that that should make it acceptable to comment at will on a stranger’s physical appearance, and secondly that I seldom run in anything above the knee or with bare shoulders (let alone midriff), for personal comfort and sun protection reasons.

To those who will insist that I am a humorless crank who can’t take a joke or a compliment, I suggest you pay a bit more attention to your surroundings the next time you’re out with your girlfriend, your daughter or your sister. Behavior like this is certainly not aimed solely at runners – it just happens to be the time when I find it most frustrating. (I’m sweaty. I’m salt-stained. I smell a little. I’m panting and focusing on my stride and trying to finish my last mile and I would like very much not to hear from you.) Keep your eyes and ears open, and see if you don’t find yourself appalled.

Most importantly, if you happen to be reading this and thinking that any of those tactics I listed above sound like good fun and why didn’t you think of that – STOP IT. If you wouldn’t say it to your mother, don’t say it to me when you eat my dust.

Be Sociable, Share!

7 Responses to “Summer Time”

  1. Mutti says:

    Oh sweetheart, you tell ‘em!

  2. [...] regarding karma, a quick note to the young man who felt the need to whistle at me as I [...]

  3. [...] regarding karma, a quick note to the young man who felt the need to whistle at me as I [...]

  4. [...] none of us are surprised; when I run with Jack, every honk, every whistle and every bit of unacceptable commentary is a revelation. Running with him both cuts down on the frequency of street harassment, and makes [...]

  5. [...] honor of Marathon Monday here in Boston, we’re cross-posting a piece that site leader Kate wrote in June 2011. The post is about the harassment she has experienced [...]

Leave a Reply