We Need To Talk About This

I have been wondering whether to speak up or to just stay quiet… yet, again. And after a long period of thinking I decided speak out.

On Sunday I went for a jog in the local woods. Nothing unusual. I like running, so I do so frequently. I was just on my way home running down a smaller hill, when a male cyclist climbed his way up. All I heard when he passed me was “Geile Titten” which roughly translates into something like “awesome tits” a little more vulgar and a little bit more obscene.

The sad part is that this is not unusual. Men over the age of 50, teenage boys, people with a very patriarchal cultural upbringing are the worst. I think most of my body parts have been commented upon, some have touched me, grabbed my breast, blocked my way, slapped my ass… It is sickening how so many people think they can invade my space, do not feel remorse, and act on instinct.

On Sunday I was particularly frustrated by the incident and tried to find out how other runners deal with this type of harassment. I did not talk to my girlfriends here in Germany as the last time one told me “I needed to focus on real problems, stop complaining about luxury issues, and should learn to take a compliment”. I do not really need to explain that I lost all interest in talking to her about anything again… ever. My personal well being is not secondary to any other issue in the world. Who is ranking issues anyways and has the ultimate power on deciding what issues are worthwhile our attention?

I went on an internet search and found the German Runner’s World magazine with the discussion board section where many other women described similar frustrating experiences. I was shocked by the advice given by a majority of men and women:

  • Do not dress that sexy in sport clothes
  • If you wear makeup you are asking for it
  • Watch how you act, you might unintentionally invite this type of behavior by smiling, looking in someone’s eyes, running near a school…
  • Always smile at men, so they do not think you are an arrogant  bitch… (not kidding, actual advice given)
  • Do not run like you are a victim; men will sense that and bully the weak
  • Take a compliment
  • I never experienced this myself, so you must be  oversensitive or misjudging a situation

It was sickening to read this victim blaming.

it is 2017 and still women have no right to their own personal space and being safe from male demands. And no, these things happen way too often to call this the exception that you can shake off. There are so many men out there who feel it is their right to invade a woman’s space. Who like the power rush when they insult a woman. They need to boost their superiority.

I wish there were more decent men on those running trails or anywhere else who would speak up against this behavior. We do not only appreciate your good behavior and how you respect women, we need your active support and your outspoken solidarity.

And to all women in a similar boat: Do not let yourself be told it is  your fault. You do not have to smile at anyone when you do not feel like it. The way you dress does not make the actions any more or less okay. I have been wearing anything from winter clothes to tights and a tank top. The amount of commentary remained the exact same. It does not matter.

And to the men who feel they need to comment on women they do not know: Shut the fuck up!

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