Why do guys think it’s acceptable to catcall women when they’re running?
On the run from sexual harassment
I went for a run yesterday (first in a while) because I was feeling a bit angsty (the usual suspects work, money, yawn) and wanted a break from my laptop. Shaking the dust off my trainers, I looked in the mirror and suddenly thought how I should probably put a baggy t-shirt on, as opposed to the tight Nike number I was wearing, as I couldn’t be assed to be jeered and leered at. God forbid men might go into a frenzy at the sight of my body shape.
Do you know what is more exhausting than sprinting up and down hills? The male population’s inability to keep their sexual desires to themselves. Then it struck me it is insane that women (I know I’m not the only one) feel this way when it comes to doing exercise outside. This article is going to get the standard reaction of, “yeah but not all men are like that”. I hear you. Now pipe down. A lot of men are ‘like that’, and it’s a serious issue. However, ignoring my inner feminist, I threw on my favourite Hogwarts Tshirt (nothing shouts ‘please don’t oggle at my ass’ like being sorted into Ravenclaw) and set off up the road, looking about as alluring as clingfilm. Using the traffic lights as a good pitstop for a stretch, I noticed some blokes grinning gormlessly at me from their Twatmobile. The driver even gave me a wink was I meant to feel flattered? I suppose some people might suggest they were just being friendly this is a bullshit response to this kind of behaviour. However, a wise man once rapped, ‘bitch, don’t kill my vibe’, and with this in mind I carried on through the village.
It basically continued this way for the remainder of my run. I was yelled at by several men on a construction site, had a few standard toots of the horn from this dude in his Porsche (looking about as suave as your Dad in Speedos) and of course the odd, ‘oi oi’ from some passing teenage boys (bless). As I ran past a hospital, where a group of men were gathered having a cigarette on a construction site, a few of them boldly yelled, ‘go on, darling!’. Creepy or motivational? You decide. Ignoring Bob the Builder and his merry men, I made my U-turn to come home. There was a somewhat more terrifying moment when I was running down a quiet treelined street, and a man actually slowed his car to drive behind me. I turned back, to check if I was in his way, he gave me a wink, wound down the window and said, ‘looking good’. He sped away quickly so I didn’t have time to check if might be having some sort of mental breakdown not because it’s not socially acceptable to do that, but also because I categorically did not, ‘look good’.
Now, one can only assume men are deluded and/ or desperate. Deluded that I might stop, take their number and show them a good time, or desperate enough to actually find me attractive. When I go for a run, I smell like gone off cheese, my face goes deep purple and to top it off I have sweat in places I didn’t know could sweat boys, it’s hardly Sports Illustrated. Just try to understand that while yelling something that sounds like, ‘oioi darlighnearghghh…’ might help you get your rocks off, it makes me feel extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable. Talking of the ‘oi oi’ (we all know it well) I decided to consult Urban Dictionary to find out it’s true meaning. As it transpires, this common greeting of choice is apparently used ‘in order to get passers by to ‘shit their pants’’. If we hark back to me describing how utterly sexless I look/ smell when exercising, I think we can all agree here, that me, shitting my pants, is last thing both you and I want. Right?
I reckon I’m a fairly confident person. It takes a lot to knock me down or make me feel uncomfortable, so I dread to think how this could make other girls feel those who aren’t so confident in themselves. We’re already under a lot of pressure to look a certain way, so when I finally get my arse into gear and do a bit of exercise, only to endure sexual harassment, it makes my blood boil. From the man in the van, to the tosspot in the sports car, you are the bane of my life/ workout.
I have no clue why men do it or what satisfaction they’re getting from it. And I bet they are not psycho serial killers just ‘normal’ blokes, maybe with children, girlfriends, wives etc. My guess is that it’s what we call, ‘boys club’, whereby when two or more men are together, a dangerous testosterone fulled reaction takes place, and they forget to be good people. Men I’m asking, nicely, next time you feel the ‘oi oi’ bubble up into your mouth, try and keep it to yourself. Ladies I don’t know what the answer is, because as I found out in my little experiment, when you confront the men in question, they’re mostly offended that you’ve called them out on it. It’s a kind of catch 22 do we take it, ignoring them, hoping they’ll leave us alone, or shout back and endure further retorts? Maybe Nike will one day invent the, ‘Just Don’t Do It’ range.