If you’re a woman who has ever left her house, you know what it’s like: the uncomfortable, lingering stares, the creepy wolf whistles, and the inappropriate comments about your appearance seem to follow you everywhere. It’s even worse when you’re trying to work out. The combination of easily recognizable exercise clothing, excessive sweating, panting, and headphones seem to (inexplicably) indicate to every creepy man in the area that you’re single and ready to mingle.
It’s a problem that Erin Bailey, a personal trainer and fitness blogger from Boston, is all too familiar with. In a recent post on her blog, entitled “What Do We Deserve?” that has since gone viral, the 25-year-old shares some examples of the harassment she experiences when she goes out running.
“It was a hot Saturday afternoon and halfway through my workout I had a guy come over to me from across the park and start talking to me from a few feet away,” she recalls. “I took my headphones out thinking he was asking me something, instead my ears were filled with profane things he ‘wanted to do to me.'”
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And Bailey is just tired of the “she was asking for it” narrative. She doesn’t wear what she does for the attention of men, but because it just makes sense.
“I wear a size small in my Nike compression shorts that I like to wear when I workout because I push myself hard enough for every pore on my body to sweat. So I’m sticky, gross and smelly and looser baggy clothing just gets in my way of my workout,” she writes. “I often run in just a sports bra because it’s 85 degrees with 50% humidity and I’m training for a half marathon and so 7-10 miles in that heat with layers is plain brutal. So now tell me, what do I deserve?”
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Don’t ask me what I was wearing. That’s not the question.
If we stopped doing things that felt or seemed dangerous, we wouldn’t live.
Am I supposed to stop going to the park? Am I supposed to not run in downtown Boston in the broad daylight? Am I supposed to not go to 7Eleven or the laundromat at 6PM on a Wednesday night? Am I supposed to not go to the gym?
I am careful. I don’t go to dangerous places alone. I don’t run in dodgy areas by myself. I carry keys on me, and soon pepper spray to put my Mom’s mind at ease. But that’s not the point.
What do I deserve?
I deserve to be treated like a human, not just a woman, because that means something different these days.
And us women, what do we deserve?
We deserve not to feel silenced by your yells.
We deserve to feel empowered for bettering ourselves.
We deserve to feel sexy in our own skin without feeling like we’re here to bait you.
We deserve to speak out without the threat of you lingering on our minds.
We deserve to run outside.
We deserve to be judged on our merits, not our outfits.
We deserve more. A whole lot more.
I’ve told these stories to many friends. And the more I shared the more my female friends shared too. And so many of their stories are worse. So much worse.
I want you to speak out. I want you to break your silence. I want to hear your stories.