The Path of Most Resistance (or, tracking sexual harassment on Strava)

Sometimes, I use Strava to record my runs. It records how far and how fast I run, which is cool. When I am harassed and groped on my run, it records that, too. So, here you go:

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 9.52.47 PM

See the red line that echoes the path I ran? See how it juts back, jagged and severe? That’s where it happened. I was running by myself, and I was stopped by two drunk men (guys? barely men). One of them taunted me and the other grabbed my ass. They were bigger than me, I was caught off guard. I yelled at them, they laughed and gave me some more choice words, and I ran away. This was all in broad daylight.

I tried to fight back tears as I resumed my run, feeling helpless and enraged and frustrated. A man came up to me afterwards – “I SAW THAT! ARE YOU OKAY!?” he said, breathlessly. Sure, I’m fine. I’m still running, aren’t I? My breath was still caught in my throat but I kept on moving, trying to get further away from where it happened. At the risk of sounding indelicate, I still regret not kicking either of them in the balls. I made a conscious choice in that moment not to be violent, but now I’m not sure that my restraint was as morally rewarding as I would have imagined.

If you’re interested in justice, there’s none here. Those guys went on living their lives, perhaps they won’t even recall the interaction. I’m assuming they do this type of thing to women regularly. I imagine that the small violation I had to experience is just one way in which their aggression towards women manifests. I felt — I still feel — very sad for the women in the lives of these men.

I feel deflated by the whole thing. I tend to go through my life believing in my own power, in this idea that I control my own fate. That idea is challenged when I am made to feel like a victim when I’m out running (or walking home from dinner, or commuting… this shit happens to women everywhere). So, I have a question for women who run: Have you had experience being harassed on runs? Have you changed your habits due to harassment?

Thanks for letting me share. Be safe out there, and when people violently enter your space, you have my blessing to kick them in the balls.

 

 

3 Comments

  1. First, I’m really sorry this happened to you. Second, thanks for sharing this. I don’t have a solution, but I think it’s important for women to know they aren’t alone in having this happen to them, or in having it affect their choices. I’ve certainly made changes to my day – like avoiding going back the same way on a road just because a dude said something about my smile or something – and that’s nothing compared to being grabbed. But you never know when it’s going to escalate, so hypervigilance is unfortunately very important. It’s interesting that people give all this advice to women (don’t run alone, in the dark, on trails, etc.), but we aren’t focusing at all on… “hey men, don’t harass women.” Maybe now that it’s becoming more common to share and call out these experiences, men can start to hold each other accountable instead of saying “take it as a compliment” or “how often does that really happen.” We can only hope.

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  2. Ugh, so sorry to hear that Margaret. Those men/guys are &%$*(!. I’ve heard these stories before where worse things have happened to women running alone in the park and it has discouraged me from getting outdoors for a jog myself. Stay safe out there, and hope it doesn’t happen again! (Bring pepper spray maybe?)

    Xo, Sarah

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  3. The creepiest thing that happened to me while running was a guy passed me in a car while hooting and hollering, flipped a bitch, drove by me again, parked in a parking lot ahead of me, got out of his car and leaned on his hood and waved at me as I ran by. I was like…holy shit dude. That is never going to work out for you.

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