Female runners (and runners in general) face a NUMBER of obstacles – but one of the most annoying, and unnecessary, is harassment. Some of it is harmless – a simple cat-call out the window, a honk or two.. or three…or ten, someone stopping us to ask us for our number… but then there are the scarier occasions – the guy slowly driving by us as we run, the guy stopping and waiting for us to pass as he stares, the guy who gets angry when we don’t give him our number, the same car driving by multiple times, the guy who seems to be lingering way too close for comfort.
Sure – maybe your intent is NOT to scare us – but guess what? It does. And rightfully so, female runners are SCARED. We are running with mace, we are running with self-defense devices, we are running without headphones to protect ourselves, we are sometimes even choosing to run INSIDE so we don’t have to worry about the dangers, and nuisances, of running outside.
Maybe you PERSONALLY wouldn’t even think about doing something that scares or disrespects women who are just trying to run – and that’s a great start – but it’s not enough. If you want to be an ALLY then you need to actively HELP women.
What could you do to actively HELP? How can you do your part? Below, men share their strategies for helping women to feel safe when they run outside.
MAKE YOUR PRESENCE KNOWN:
“I will say hello to you as I’m running. If you’re running and I’m running, and we’re heading towards each other, I just say a quick hey, just to let my presence be known. Just to say hey, I’m here, and I’m just alerting you that I’m here.”
“When I see a lone woman out running while I am, I try to maintain a lot of distance and give a friendly wave from afar to hopefully set their mind at ease.”
“I make eye contact by offering a small verbal greeting so we know that each other are there.”
“If I’m coming up behind you, I will swing wide so you can at least catch me in your peripheral, so that way I don’t scare you by accidentally sneaking up on you.”
“If I’m behind a single female, I usually drop further back if running the same pace, or speed up and pass if I’m faster, so I don’t seem to be hovering.”
HAVE OUR BACKS:
“I try to stay alert of other men around us.”
“If I see something strange, I intervene.”
Anonymous Male Runner
“If someone I’m with does something offensive, I let them know that it’s not okay.”
I SUPPORT THEM:
“I always check in on my female running friends. I let them know that they can text me when they are going for a run to make sure I know where they are/whether they are safe. Hopefully it helps to show them that I care.”
– Anonymous Male Runner
These are just a handful of ways that our male running allies are supporting, protecting, and advocating for female runners. How do YOU help women to feel safe on the run? Share your ideas and strategies below so I can add them to the list!