I've been running since I was around 11 years old. It is my life--I love it and do it all the time. Sometimes I do it alone, which is no big deal. But sometimes it is, and it shouldn't be.
The first time I was scared while running I was 14 years old. I remember the day perfectly--it was a hot afternoon in July and I was training for the upcoming cross country season. I was getting bored of the route I was doing and decided to run down a quiet road that I normally never went down. I even remember the song I was listening to-- "One Thing" by One Direction, when I looked and saw a white pickup truck slowing down in the opposite direction. I thought nothing of it until the driver slowed down, started honking at me and flashing their lights. They turned around, slowly following me as I was running. A part of me wanted to believe I was in the way, and that was why they were honking and flashing their lights, but I knew better. I picked up a rock and ran in the opposite direction, not stopping until I was home, out of breath and close to tears.
I knew if I told anybody they would tell me to not run that way alone anymore--but why should I be punished for just doing something I loved? Why should I, then a 14 year old kid just trying to get in shape for competing in the upcoming cross country season, been treated like an object? I wish I could say this was the last time it happened but it was far from the last, if anything this was the beginning. By now, as a junior in college, I am used to it. Which makes me so beyond mad.
Sometimes I think about these poor excuses for men--and think about their daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends ect-- and how every man came out of a woman and is connected to a woman one way or another, yet they think it is okay to continue to treat them like objects. Treat them like they are nothing. Like they are out running for their sick, twisted pleasure.
Just last week I was running with teammates when an older man slowed down near us and whistled low and shook his head, like our purpose for being there was for his sick enjoyment. I thought about how I was probably old enough to be his granddaughter, and he thought this was okay for him to do.
I run for myself. I run because I love it. I , as well as every other woman, should be able to run without cars slowing down,without comments being yelled through open windows, without the obvious staring or honking. Oh, you think I didn't notice you subtly craning your neck and following me with your eyes? Do you really think that I would be flattered by your honking which scared me so much I jumped two feet because I had my headphones in? Women should be able to run without being sexually assaulted and/or murdered, and then blamed for what they were wearing. Women should be able to run wherever they want without being told they shouldn't have gone alone or have worn headphones, as if that is the big culprit. Females should be able to run without being afraid. But the sick reality is that this is still one, this is something that is still happening and the fact that it is makes me so mad, and should make everyone angry. Lonely roads are the best roads to run on because you are alone with your thoughts--but for a female runner, you are never really alone. You are taught to run scared. Be aware of everything and everyone. Because we live in a world where we have to constantly be on edge. And just once it would be nice for all women to have the chance to run unafraid, and my hope for the future is that that will one day become a reality.