Today started off like a normal Saturday.
Ya know, the kind where I wake up and wanna veg out on the sofa, but my husband (who knows that deep down I really wanna run outside) says “hey babe, are you gonna run today?”
And I say “yeeeeaaaahhh” and drag myself to get ready and move ever-so slowly to get dressed and stretch.
When I finally get out and my feet touch the pavement, I remember why I love to be out there, and I’m thankful that my husband remembers to ask- it’s the gentle nudge I need to get going.
There’s an amazing running path by my house that’s about 2 miles one-way, 3 if I want to go down to the beach. Peaceful and beautiful, you can smell the salt from the sea as you run and I just love it so much.
This morning as I made my way down, I had an encounter that went somethin’ like this:
Him: Stops driving his big, yellow machine to watch me run by and shouts: “Nice, very nice. Pretty”
Me: Shouts back: “Rude. You’re very rude.”
On the way back. He stops driving his big, yellow machine.
So I stop running and say: “Drive. Go.”
Him: “No, you go.”
Me: “Why? So you can look at my ass as I run by? No thanks.”
Him: “I was giving you a compliment. I said you look good. Very nice.”
Me: “And I said no thank you. Women don’t come out here on their morning runs for men like you to sit out here and shout at us and gawk. We come out here to run and go home. If you do it again, I’m going to call your supervisor and I’ll have my husband come out here so you can say that to his face. Why are you out here?”
Me: “To do your job. So do your job. You’d betta check yaself.”
Look. I’m not new to catcalling.
When all of those videos started going viral and people were chiming in, I didn’t say anything because I know that life. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Catcalling might as well be a religion and I was an unwilling member of that congregation. I know it well. I could even say I’m used to it.
As a teenager growing up in Brooklyn, I didn’t really have the confidence to say anything. I saw many women stand up for themselves and watched as men got defensive and (sometimes) loud and it became and back-and-forth between him and her- I was never interested in having that discourse with anyone.
I don’t know what came over me this morning. I just was not interested in his nonsense and felt the need to tell him about it.
I know. I could choose not to run on that path anymore, since they are putting up an apartment complex right next to it. But it is a beautiful path that was made for runners and bicyclists. So, yes, I should run there.
I know. I could choose to ignore him. But I felt like my silence would indicate to him that what he was doing was appropriate. It wasn’t.
You know what else I know? That you, Mr. Construction Worker (and other men who think like you), wouldn’t have said that to me if I was with my husband, brother, or another male. You wouldn’t have.
Here’s the thing. My past history and my anxiety gives me nerves that can, at times, stop me from running where I want to run. I want to run on this path. And I want to do it in peace.
I don’t want some dude who is shouting foolishness at me to make me feel like maybe I won’t be safe. No thank you. That’s not your job.
I feel uncomfortable when you shout at me like that.
I feel objectified.
I feel disrespected.
And guess what? You don’t own me. My body is mine, not yours.
Men like you do not get the right to just shout things at women because they feel like it.
I get that you think you’re giving me a compliment- but who said I wanted a compliment? It’s creepy.
Do you have a daughter? A mother? A sister?
How would you feel if someone shouted foolishness at her? “Complimented” her?
I know that some women don’t care. More power to you, sister. I wish I had that thing that you have that makes you not care.
But I do care.
So as long as I feel safe to do so, if you shout at me I’m gonna shout back at you. Why not? You’re giving me a compliment and I am responding to your compliment by letting you know that I don’t want it- you, sir, can keep it.