BBC Breakfast ran a story this week about harassment females receive whilst out running (see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38568166). This is not the first time a story like this has made the news; Lindsey Swift's open letter to a white van driver who heckled her whilst she was out running in 2015 (see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34278988) received a lot of media attention.
Seeing the BBC Breakfast feature and when reading through the responses people posted on social media it was apparent that countless women could add stories and examples of the abuse they had received whilst out on a run, with men also not escaping the insults. This made me angry. There were lots of examples provided by runners of comments being shouted from vehicle drivers. I sympathise as I absolutely hate it when this happens to me. Usually it is some direct or indirect reference to what I am wearing, which they can't seem to see is perfectly acceptable running attire. The worst example was when a man shouted I was a 'slut' from his van window, I presume simply for the fact I was wearing running shorts. It was not so much the comment that angered me, but the fact it was in front of many other pedestrians and young children, which made me feel embarrassed.
Thankfully I do not take comments like this to heart - why should I feel like I can't wear running shorts? What makes me upset is that this type of harassment will understandably affect other people. The thought that these disrespectful comments could prevent someone from taking a positive step to improve their physical and mental wellbeing is very sad. Anyone choosing to put time and effort into something worthwhile – running or any form of activity - should be encouraged, not abused.
What however upset me the most as I scrolled through the comments underneath the news article were some of the darker stories emerging from women describing what they had encountered whilst running, which I found hard to read.
The fact this issue has remerged I feel sadly presents an image of the way certain people within society view women rather than the act of running itself. To change deep set views of women will take a long time, but stories of female runners and women in general defying such comments and acts can only help encourage people not to give up and not let the harassment and abuse win. These tips from BBC Newbeat also offer some great advice if you are feeling unsure: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/38567465/eight-tips-for-feeling-safe-when-you-go-out-running
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...