Running While Female (spoiler: many men are still a-holes)

I’ve been a runner for a couple years now. I had no idea what female runners have had to put up with, and what they all have just accepted as being part of it all.

I’m not sure what I (or we) can do about it other than not doing it ourselves, teaching our sons not to do it, and calling it out when we see it (which I think would be a rare occurrence just logistically – Edit: maybe not so rare after reading this?).


Honestly this article could probably be titled “Existing while Female” and be exactly the same.

That’s why any woman who leaves her home for any reason—to run, to work, to get the mail

I got hollered at last week, from a car driving by, while getting the mail in my sweats. Somehow that warranted a “Yeah baby!” from passing traffic.


I’m sorry it’s like that for you and all the other women out there. I wish I had answers.


It’s a wonder you could make that out. Normally when someone yells at me from a car (not that it happens often because of my dudeliness) all I hear is, “Gahrble!” as anything intelligible disappears into the wind and doppler effects.


I think the real wonder is that a story about how women are often spoken over and dismissed you are telling someone that their experience might not be believable.

She didn’t say how fast traffic was moving. She didn’t say that she heard it as well as if someone said it next to her. She said that’s what she heard. Don’t second guess her experience.


And they get it even worse if they decide to run for office.


I didn’t. I was simply observing that drivers who yell things at people usually don’t even get their message across, and are sad sorry people for trying. There was no skeptocism there. I’m sure it happened like she said.


Semi-unrelated, except in terms of men being dicks to women for no apparent reason…with a happy ending, courtesy of a fellow woman. I just got this IM string from my wife, who’s at the botanical gardens with our 18 month old (She was actually going to go for a run, but the weather decided to make rude comments at her like “Cold enough for you?” and “How about some rain?”):

Yea security guard
The greenhouse I guess doesn’t open until 10
We went in at 954

And he was like "HEY!!! Hey we’re closed"
All nasty
I said "oh until when?"
He goes 10

No actually he didn’t say anything. He pointed to a sign in front of one of the doors that I couldn’t see from where I was. And then I was like " what time?"
Then I said it’s 954. He shrugged.
Made me wait outside in the cold with baby

Then a concessions lady gave him lip and told us to stand right inside

It wasn’t his boss it was just his friend

But she was like “I have to stand outside and work andim freezing and I’m standing inside. She’s holding a baby what’s wrong with you”


What you’re missing here is that men slow down their cars to make sure that their unwanted attention is delivered as clearly as possible.



And there’s no middle ground: either you’re a sex object or else worthy of ridicule because you’re NOT a sex object (to them). For some reason, it seems to be hard for many men to simply pass an unknown woman in a public place without making sure she knows exactly what he’s thinking about her at that moment.


This is what we need to work at eradicating with our sons. The male is in control of his own thoughts and mouth, he needs to exercise his control while we’re out exercising our bodies (or not, as @manybellsdown notes).


Male runner here. Sort of figured that it wouldn’t be any better for female runners, compared to any other sort of female pedestrian.

But for the sake of equality, I will share a story from high school cross country.

During the beginning and end of the school year, the weather gets hot where I lived. So the guy’s team would run with their shirts off. Whenever we’d have the coincidence to do this and have to run a certain way away from the school, there was always a big group of 6-8 black girls who walked home that way at the same time as practice. And every time we did, they’d hoot and holler and generally harass us in much the same way individual creeps do to women. One time, a gal told our team captain that he had a, “ghetto booty”. You better believe that that name stuck with him for years!


Sounds like part of the 4% of men that get harassed just like the story says. It’s unfair to either sex, I wish people would just let people be people.


More general harrassment (not sexual in nature, if it counts–article is unclear on that point) I would say I am in that 4%. “Run forrest, run!” used to be super common, but a couple times recently I got death threats hurled from pickup trucks. (Why, idk)


I’ve never gotten any kind of sexual harassment when running, but people yell stuff at me all the time.

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Jeff City?

Yep. Jeff City.


I mentioned this article / story to my wife (a nonrunner) saying how I can’t believe what women runners deal with. She said “I believe it”. And went on to describe how she believes it. “A woman running? By herself? Yeah - she’s just inviting people to say things.” The difference between what decent men think happens to women and what women happens … it’s just crazy.

I’ll admit something here … I don’t holler, leer, make comments, etc. Never ever ever. That’s not bragging, just setting the stage. I don’t do any of those things, but I do notice when an attractive runner is coming my way. And … my guess is even that noticing gets noticed and isn’t appreciated. So … I will be more aware of that.


Being noticed without comment is fine, IMO; it’s when there’s staring, leering and other behavior that it becomes problematic.

Many males seem to feel that if a woman is out in public they automatically have the “right” to judge her appearance, and that it must be made known to her what they think of her body.


They are willing to slow down in the middle of the street. I’ve been there when some guys slowed down enough to clearly “serenade” my friend with the chorus to “brown sugar”.

My worst car related experience was when I was a teen having a car of guys pace me for a block trying to offer me a ride. Slowed to a crawl for a whole block.