This week’s blog post was inspired by the recent topic in the news regarding why SOME men just can’t hack being overtaken by a female runner. I emphasise the SOME in this, as it is definitely not universal. This also led me on to thinking about the way men sometimes respond to female runners, both when running and driving past them.
To some men, the thought of a woman being faster than them is a massive punch to their ego. They can’t cope with the thought of a ‘girl’ outdoing their ‘manliness’. But why? Why should a woman not reap the benefits of hard training just because they make some male individuals feel emasculated? Should we as women feel as though there isn’t a place for us within sport because ‘sport is for men’?
Whilst this doesn’t happen all the time, it shouldn’t be happening at all! We are currently in 2019; you’d think by now women would be seen with the same outlook as men when it comes to sport. There have been huge progressions within sport, but it still isn’t quite there in my opinion.
We’ve all experienced it, I have. I’ve been running down a path and see a male runner a few yards in front of me. My only options are to keep running and overtake or turn around and take a different route. But why should I revise my run just to avoid overtaking? So, I decide to keep heading in my current direction. Before too long I’ve caught up with the man in front and I am having to overtake, but this doesn’t always go as smoothly as you think. You tend to receive one of 5 responses.
1) They stop running and walk, pretending they’ve reached an intended break in their run.
2) They jeer and whistle at you, doing their best to make you feel uncomfortable.
3)You get completely ignored. You say hi, only to receive dead silence in return
(this is the most common one I experience.)
4) Just as you go to overtake them, they are struck with a sudden burst of energy and zip off in front. (More often than not you catch up with them soon enough and the cycle starts again).
5)The 5th option, and the one we all want is, they say hi, smile, and let you run on pass, possibly taking a slight dent to their ego, but accepting it.
Luckily, the first four traits seem to be less common within a club environment. Men who have become accustomed to training amongst women, and yes, being beaten by them too at times, tend to be ok with it. If you’re allowed a bit of friendly competition with a man, why can’t you have it with a woman? And this can be beneficial. Whoever runs faster than you, be it a man or woman, can help you get faster too! Why does it matter if they are a woman and you are a man? If I get overtaken by a man, I don’t feel embarrassed by it. I just accept, he’s obviously training hard, just like any other woman who is running faster than me! This can also be translated into a race setting. It is such a powerful feeling when I am in a race or a tough training session and a fellow teammate, male or female, shouts words of motivation at me. There are so many male runners out there who think it is great when a female athlete has the ability and strength to run faster than they can. This view just needs to be expanded into the rest of the population, including those who don’t run. It tends to be those who do not have experience running competitively (or training in general in any sport) with other women, who struggle to comprehend such a possibility.
This takes me on to the heckling women face. I can’t name a single female runner I know, who hasn’t been wolf whistled at, heckled at, jeered at, or called names when running. As a woman who has experienced this, it is extremely embarrassing and uncomfortable. In what world is it ok for a man to make a woman feel extremely comfortable when she is simply trying to enjoy a run? The only thing you want to do is finish your run and get home. Consequently, from then on, you second guess every route you take in the hope you won’t face such an experience again. For some people, it may even put them off going for a run anytime soon. We shouldn’t be forced to stop doing something we enjoy, like getting outside for a run, because of the comments we are faced with.
This isn’t a rant against male runners. The vast majority would never dream of making another runner feel like this, whether they are male or female. Instead it’s an attempt to increase the enjoyability and accessibility of sport. There is only one way to do that, and that’s to ensure everybody, whether they are male or female, feels accepted and respected within the environment they are in, not made to feel uncomfortable or belittled.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!