Justice

Reddit Post Nails the Hidden Shame Women Feel When Harassed While Jogging

One woman's story of what happened to her when she tried to go for a run is striking a nerve with many other women who can relate to her story all too well.

female jogger

A Redditor, who has chosen to remain anonymous, posted on Reddit's "TwoXChromosomes" community, a subreddit "intended for women's perspectives," about her unsettling experience with being harassed when she decide to take a run in public. 

"I try and avoid him, he moves to step in front of me again. And again. And again!"

The Redditor describes how she went for an evening run, explaining, "I've never had any trouble before at this time of day, and it is usually the only time of day i'm able to get any exercise, so whatever works, right?"

She went on to write in her post more details about the incident and what happened next:

"So I start my course and literally thirty seconds in, I get up to this bloke who is walking past me and he steps in front of me so I have to stop, unless I want to crash into him.. I try and avoid him, he moves to step in front of me again. And again. And again! All the while he's watching me with this shit eating grin on his face.

Instinctively I removed my earphones and said "Hello?" in a tone which suggested "Um, what the fuck are you doing?". He replies "Hi" back and starts to ask what i'm doing, before I suddenly wake up to the fact I don't need to give him any of my time and blurt out "I'm busy, bye". He asks me "you sure?" before I run off.

Am I sure? Am I fucking sure? Did the fact you had to actively put your body in my path to make sure I stopped for you not give you any clue that I might be busy doing something?"

Though she was angry with this stranger's harassment, she was surprised by what upset her the most.

"... And I feel angry at myself, because honestly I wanted to give a snarkier response but half of me was freaking out worrying that he might chase after me ... I feel so mad at myself right now and I don't know why. And he probably just walked away and has forgotten it all by now," she wrote. 

 "Honestly, I wish I could have just told him to fuck off. Or just get way more angry, but I felt like I couldn't because I didn't want to escalate anything — I just wanted to be on my way, and I was afraid he'd put his hands on me," she told ATTN: in a private message Monday on Reddit. 

She's not alone in feeling angry for not knowing what to say.

In July, ATTN: reported on a female runner who, after being confronted by a man who commented on her "sagging breasts" while she was simply trying to exercise, felt that her biggest frustration was feeling like she couldn't tell him off.

Michelle Kirk described how she wanted to "'go all New York' on him" but held back for fear of her safety. Instead, she told him, "I’m so sorry but all my non-boob sagging bras are in the wash today'" and tried to get out of there "as soon as possible." Kirk added that she wanted to give him an earful, but after calling a friend who advised her not to and because she feared her safety that she decided to just vent her frustration on Facebook.

"I said it sarcastically because the way he spoke to me was completely rude and he said 'not for nothing' like I was ruining his day because he saw me running. Now you got me thinking about it, I shouldn't have even included those words 'I'm sorry' because there was nothing to be sorry about, even though I wasn't sincerely apologizing," Kirk told ATTN: when asked why she apologized to the man. 

There's no "perfect" or "right way" to respond to street harassment.

Ideally, women shouldn't have to deal with street harassment and trying to figure out what to say when confronted shouldn't even be a concern. The TwoXChromosomes subreddit alone is filled with many instances of women venting about being harassed while running, with some asking for advice on how to respond to harassers.

jogging track

"I really don't think there's a 'right' response," the Redditor told ATTN:. "There will always be someone telling you you didn't do the right thing — if you stand up for yourself, you're escalating the situation. If you didn't do anything in the moment, you're a pushover and you let him get away with it."

Perhaps even more frustrating are the comments these women get from men who suggest that their harassers are merely trying to have "a friendly conversation." 

"I know it was annoying and not ideal as you had running to do and music to listen to, but there's really no need to be so angry at him," one Redditor responded to the initial post. "He was just trying to approach you in the only way he knew how."