As a woman, people are naturally worrying about my safety. My dad is one of the top people in my life who worry about me. He finds strange pleasure by torturing himself and watching murder or criminal investigation shows constantly. These shows are often based on real-life events, which makes him paranoid and terrified that one of these horrible remakes could happen to his daughter.
Any time I tell him I’m going anywhere, he asks if I’m going alone or if I have the pepper spray he bought me three years ago.
Watching those heart-breaking TV shows has made both my dad and me paranoid about the crazy world we live in. Since I was young, he would relay the incidents to me and stress to never do what the victim did. In most situations, the victims in the shows are female, which scares my dad even more.
He always worries.
However, my brother was never really told these things because he’s strong enough to fend for himself I suppose and I’m not. Women are constantly being told to be cautious and to trust nobody because they can never be sure what someone is capable of. This impedes women from living their lives to the fullest.
I find this can be especially relevant when it comes to female runners. Catcalling, harassment and much worse continue to be a prevalent problems in the running world for women and this discourages others from trying to run. Some families might not want their teenage daughter going for long runs because they don’t want her to be stolen by a maniac.
A runner Kelly Herron was recently attacked in Seattle by a 40-year-old registered sex offender inside a bathroom stall while taking a rest from her a run. The man was beating Herron and tried getting her to fall to the ground. Herron fought back with self-defense moves she learned weeks earlier through work.
She fought, punched and clawed until she finally locked him in the bathroom with the help of a bystander.
The police came shortly after and took the man into custody.
“All those little things that I learned in my life like how to punch and everything came back to me,” Herron said in an interview with Runner’s World.
As this story circulated around, some people gave the same tired excuses as to why this woman was attacked. She shouldn’t have been alone was the most common comment. That’s putting the blame on the woman rather than the assaulter. It’s unfair to expect women to run in huge packs and in broad daylight only.
Two women were murdered last August while jogging during the day. The problem isn’t going to be solved by limiting women to certain times of day or areas of a city. Women should feel just as safe as men in their daily lives.
Incidents that lead to injuries or death are thankfully not extremely common but harassment is far from rare. The likelihood of female runners being harassed, even in “safe” areas, is relatively high, according to Runner’s World.
We shouldn’t be expected to never trust anybody because we’re afraid someone might do something horrible.
Women make up 57 percent of race finishers annually, according to the latest Running USA statistics. More than half the readers of Runner’s World are female. There needs to be more done about criminals who get away with grabbing, yelling at and harassing female runners.
My stepmom is a marathon runner. Why should she need to schedule her runs around when the sun is up and how many cars will be on the road to avoid cat-calls? Maybe police need to take more action and patrol better in certain areas. But the problem isn’t going to go away by telling women how to live.
Email Laura Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org