So, according to a recent survey one in three women* have been harassed whilst out running. I’m going to say I’m surprised. I’m surprised it’s not higher. An informal poll of my running pals comes back that every single female runner has experienced harassment whilst out running at least once (and some men, but more on that later), and that it is something that they have to consider when going out for a run.
Personally I’ve been harassed whilst running, walking, whilst bundled up in layers and layers of clothing, you name it. It’s the main reason I run with headphones, if I can’t hear it then it can’t annoy or scare me. Most of the harassment has been verbal, but I have friends who have been attacked and it’s only their awesome speed that has saved them (and the concern is always that even though I am relatively fast, it wouldn’t take much for the average man, and it’s always men, to overtake and overpower me).
From my informal polling, it also happens to men, but not as frequently and the comments don’t tend to be of a sexual nature (unlike with the harassment directed at women). Unfortunately as soon as the results of the survey came out somehow the focus was shifted away (at lightening speed in some cases) from how street harassment of this nature is disproportionately directed at women, to how it happens to men too. I think this graphic illustrates this focus shift well:
Identifying that any behaviour occurs disproportionately to one group is not an attempt to ignore or diminish when it happens outside of that group, it is waving a big red flag about the disproportionality. The Black Lives Matter movement is not saying that the same things don’t happen to people who are not of colour, or that it isn’t terrible when they do. It is saying that these things happen disproportionately to people of colour and that disproportionality is a problem.
So please, when a group of people tells you that something happens disproportionately to them, please don’t counter with how it happens to other people too. They know and they care (they don’t want it to happen to anyone) but you’re missing the point and it muddies the message that they are trying to get out.
*for the purposes of this post, any gender terms are considered to be applied to anyone who claims them as their own.