Opinion

Sorry fellas, female joggers aren't there for you

IT'S appalling that some women in Australia don't feel safe to take a run in their own streets.

It's not because of the risk of being robbed or attacked by a serial rapist.

It's because too many men think it is still okay honk their horns, do catcalls, even follow in their cars while making sexual proposition.

On hot summer days, women should be able to take a jog in shorts like men.

But it seems some blokes see that as an invitation too tempting to resist.

Numerous women have told the ABC how they now feel threatened to go for a run.

Tayebeh Alirezaee runs for the fitness, happiness and the great outdoors.

But she, like too many women, has experienced the downside of her passion.

"[Once] this guy popped out … and was avoiding eye contact with me, few seconds after I looked back and realised that he had changed his direction and now is following me," she told the ABC.

"I ran as hard as I could and called the police as soon as I was in safety - I run to be happy and when it becomes a scary experience it just doesn't make sense anymore.

"For a few weeks I was scared to go running and I hated the world, once I even cried talking to a friend as I thought I was getting tired of being a woman in this world."

Brisbane runner Bec Humphries, says she no longer exercises after dark by herself.

"I never worried about whether it was dark when I went running until I was out for a run one night around 8:00pm and I got followed by a man in a car," she says.

"I didn't even realise until I stopped to tie my shoes and the car stopped and he wound his window down and asked me if

I wanted a lift in return for a favour.

"I have never felt so terrified and I ran to a house with the lights on and the family that lived there gave me a lift home."

Mother-of-three Kim Cayzer  says she had experienced "non-stop harassment".

"I've had guys run alongside me to smack my arse. I have had men run behind me chanting 'I see you baby, shaking that arse'.

A recent study by Runner's World found that 43% of female runners experienced harassment at least sometimes - compared with just 4% of men.

The study also found that 63% women ran where they felt it was unlikely they would encounter a person who might harm them, and 41% where they thought they would be less likely to received unsolicited attention.

Thirty per cent of women reported being followed by someone - and 18% had been sexually propositioned while out running.

While it is easy to dismiss such behaviour as blokes being blokes, it is never acceptable behaviour.

This is sexual harassment and intimidation - and it should be called out by other men.

Some people might dismiss whistles and catcalls as compliments.

But it's not friendly banter. It's unwanted attention.

Women who go running are not looking for sex.

 

They are looking for some time alone, to exercise, to enjoy the great outdoors.

Of course there will be some who suggest that women shouldn't run alone, they shouldn't wear such 'provocative' clothing, they shouldn't run at night or they should run with men.

But that completely misses the main point.

Men should control themselves.

They should stop seeing women as just objects. This is a not a music video.

They are mums, sisters and daughters.

Topics:  editors picks female hey mumma jogging kick the kilos rape running sexual discrimination


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