Here we go again I thought another viral facebook post.
This was my first reaction to the "Me Too" movement started by Tarana Burke many years ago and recently shared by Alyssa Milano in response to the Havey Weinstein scandal. It's not that I don't think these issues are important, and that people shouldn't speak out... It's just that I, personally, would speak up (and for the most part have spoken up) the minute anyone crossed me the wrong way.... and my knee jerk reaction was that this movement just opened the door for people who actually have not been harassed, assaulted, or raped to seek attention. The idea is that you just post "Me Too" if you've been a victim, and although stories are welcomed, they are not required... In my mind I rolled my eyes seeing some of the "me too's" knowing full well that nothing "serious" ever happened with many of the people posting.
....but then I had a change of heart after reading some comments of people who didn't think much differently than me, particularly one from my friend and teammate Ellen which read as follows:
"I'm torn about "me too." Do I write it, since I've been catcalled while running? Do I not write it, since that's relatively minor and I don't want to take away from women who have been severely harassed in their workplaces?"
and just like that I had the very unfortunate epiphany ... HOLY SHIT...ME TOO! We should all write "me too"!
She was right... catcalling, whistling... that is harassment too! Perhaps it can be considered "less severe"... but the severity here is that it's acceptable... and it's constant. If I had a dollar for every time someone has honked at me when I'm running in a sports bra! It's scary that even someone like myself, that would burn at the stake defending the ladies I have at my side, barely recognized it as something worthy of addressing... the severity is that it is the seed of bigger offenses... it is the seed of assault, it is the seed of rape.... and by tolerating it, by not recognizing it is worthy of "me too" is watering it.
It goes far beyond just catcalling... It's really any exercise of power. Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable enough that your next decision, your next move, is to get out of the uncomfortable situation rather than do what you were planning to do.
I have a recent example (non-running... because those are too many to count) from my own life of someone who didn't say a word to me or touch me, but took away my freedom as a woman for just a moment...
I was about 11 weeks pregnant and it was freezing out (winter in New England). I stopped at a gas station in an area not known for it's... class... When I got out to pump a car pulled up at the pump behind me. The man got out and looked me up and down in a way that made me feel insanely uncomfortable... (more uncomfortable than creepy dudes intentionally brushing up behind me in line at the bar in college... which is also harassment) and I got chills. At first I assessed what I was wearing.... was I asking for it? I was covered head to toe...but I did have on tight spandex...(not that it should matter.) Being the type of person I am... one that doesn't take shit.... I talked myself into showing no fear. I looked him right back and gave him a solid "don't fuck with me" look and then continued pumping keeping him in my peripherals... but really, I felt insanely vulnerable and something I rarely am... scared. I was still in the very early stages of pregnancy and had my 19 month daughter in the backseat looking right at me out the window. I thought about what I'd do if I had to defend myself in front of Raea while carrying my unborn Maebel... I'm fairly comfortable with my self defense skills, and positioned my keys between my fingers strategically in case I needed to throw down, but it's not one of those things you ever want to test in a real life scenario... especially in the first trimester of pregnancy while in front of your baby. I could feel him still looking at me and that he sensed my fear. I casually stopped pumping the gas and walked to the other side of the car, the three seconds where my back was facing him felt very long, and got in the drivers side and immediately locked the car. I checked my rear view mirror and I was terrified to find he was right outside my daughters door! I quickly put the car in drive and he yelled "hey, hey, hey! you forgot to close your tank" I waved to signify I heard him, but hell no was I getting out to fix it. He closed it and I drove off. The only reason I forgot is because I was so focused on not making any extra moves that would have my back to him. I immediately called my husband crying over this but later talked myself into being crazy due to hormones.
Was I crazy? Maybe... But probably not. I'm a firm believer in trusting your gut, and my gut said that guy was no good.
Even this example, one that had no physical contact, and essentially no verbal interaction, is harassment. Harassment comes in many forms; words, actions, gestures.... It can be on the internet (it has happened to me on instagram) it can be through texting, or phone calls. It doesn't need to be an incident that that needs intervention... most cases we can probably handle on our own... but it is still harassment! So even if we don't need to contact authorities, we do need to stand up for ourselves or for our friends when we see these "minor" incidents happen. It needs to be clear what is Okay and what is NOT. We need to stop making excuses for these "less severe" instances (ie: I shouldn't have waited so long to get gas that I got stuck in such a sketchy area.... It's just me being hormonal and sensitive, I wasn't being harassed... I shouldn't have worn those pants.) because that is how this begins. A minor incident grows into a major one.
It's not just the women running around in sports bras, it's women of all shapes sizes and level of intelligence... It's also not just men harassing women... it's women harassing women, women harassing men, men harassing men, too!
Bottom line- there's not enough respect.
It's not hard... regardless of if I'm wearing spandex, or running around in a sports bra! just show some God Damn Respect...
Welcome to my blog! I blogged my entire pregnancy in 2017 and I had high hopes for where I could take my running after baby number 2, but my body had other plans. At some point I got too discouraged to write and recently realized that it is essential for my personal growth and development to keep putting feelings into coherent(ish) thoughts. I still hope to run sub 2:45 in the marathon one day, but for now I’m trying to focus on the process and I’m learning to enjoy it. You can come along for the ride, apologies in advance for grammatical incorrectness!