The Ugly Truths of Running as a Female

Running alone? In broad daylight? In public? No one bothering you? What an absurd concept! Yet that is an ugly truth for female runners such as myself these days. An activity that once made me feel so free now just reminds me of how trapped I am. I used to be able to run alone in the woods behind my house, running out there was so much more than an exercise. It was also an escape, I felt like I was in another world out there, a beautiful uninhabited world that I could make my own. I felt in control, safe, and undaunted, I can’t remember the last time I felt like that running. Now I can’t even run in a downtown area during the day without my heart skipping a beat every corner I turn. If I am not in fear for my life, I am in fear for the sexual harassment, the cat calling and the videotaping, that has become a permanent fragment of my runs, and that is an ugly truth I have to live with everyday.

Some people would like to turn the tragic story of Mollie Tibbetts into political propaganda in favor stricter immigration laws rather than face the perpetual ugly truth. The ugly truth that no female in this country is safe to be alone, we can’t run alone, we can’t walk alone, and even when we do we are still prisoners of our dismay. For once we are introduced to this ugly truth we can’t escape the effect it has on us. Yet instead of victims we are seen as instigators and frequently asked “Well, where were you running? What time was it? Were you listening to music? Wearing short shorts? A sports bra with no shirt?”. If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are at fault for any harassment or assault that has been imposed upon you while running, and that is an ugly truth that we are expected to accept.     

Well I am quite frankly done accepting these ugly truths, I am done living in fear, I am done being silenced. I am done learning lessons on how to be safe and ready for lessons to be taught that will teach men that I am not an object that they can tinker with as they please. I am done being a prisoner, trapped by my own dismay. And I am not the only prisoner fed up with their prejudiced incarceration. Time’s up and we are breaking out of the chains that society has forced upon us for far too long. We are not victims, we are a collective voice and we will be heard. We will make a better tomorrow for all the little girls out there so that they will never have to carry the same burdens imposed upon us. We will be the change that we want to see in the world, are you ready for it?