I recently read an article in Runner’s World magazine. It really hit home. Several stories from women who have had close encounters of assault while running. We would like to forget that there are dangers in this world for women that are not applicable to men.
When I used to run before I got a dog, I would get scared on trails if it had been too long since I had seen other people, or if the only person I saw was a lone male. Even if that male was running and looked to be there for the trail and not to prey on someone like me, I would still get nervous. I still get nervous even with my dog by my side, but having Sadie with me does make me feel a little safer.
I have considered getting pepper spray (or even bear spray) to carry with me on my runs. I probably should do this if only to make myself feel that much safer.
I don’t always have the time/ability to plan my running with groups of other people, though that is also a good option for safety.
These are the things that many female runners think about when we head out the door. Even if we aren’t headed to potentially secluded trails, just running on the streets can open us up to harassment and worse.
All these strategies to keep ourselves safe still puts all of the onus and responsibility on the woman to protect herself. Not “let” herself be caught off guard. Not run in secluded or dangerous places. Not “wear the wrong things” when out for a run.
None of this addresses the bigger issue. Male aggression towards women. Rape culture. Whatever deep-rooted dysfunction seeps into the minds and psyche of our young men, allowing them to feel entitled to assaulting women. Allowing them to feel that women are somehow lesser than them, objects to be played with.
Because the problem is so complex and deep-rooted, I have no idea what the solution is.
I just wish I didn’t have to be afraid of these dangers.
I wish our culture valued women in a way that men wouldn’t think of treating us with disdain.
I wish that men who acknowledge having some of these feelings would get help from professionals.
I wish society did more to protect and empower women so we could do more to stand up to our aggressors.
I wish. I wish. I wish.
In the meantime I will do everything I need to do to protect myself and fight for these changes so my daughter can (hopefully) live in a safer world.