One of my favourite ways to stay active is by running. I feel fortunate to live and work in a great community where I can explore many trails and enjoy a bit of nature without leaving the city. As I often do at lunch time, I laced up my running shoes and hit the pavement for a quick run today. I left feeling great, but I returned to the office feeling uneasy.
As I started my run, I had to go around a group of high school students who had obviously set out to get lunch. Because I have too much metal in my left ear, I can’t wear my left earbud which means I’m probably much safer while running because I can hear what’s going on around me. I heard them laughing as I passed.
I lucked out at the intersection, able to run across the road without a wait. Just after passing the 1km mark, a rusty pickup truck came into view. The windows were open. HEY BABE, LOOKING GOOD, the driver yelled as he beeped the horn and waved. The other guys in the truck leaned forward to stare at me. I kept running. And then I looked over my shoulder to make sure they kept driving. That’s a bad feeling, by the way. To feel like you need to look over your shoulder. I kept running.
At the three kilometre mark, I stopped to stretch and turned around. As I ran, I noticed cars noticing me – men and women looked toward the sidewalk. A lady walking smiled at me. A couple said hello. The cold air was invigorating, the fresh air cleared my mind and my legs felt strong beneath me as I completed the 5.5km run and stopped into Starbucks for a coffee. And then the wind was taken out of my sails entirely.
I stood at the intersection waiting for the light to change. Cars drove by. Cars, close enough for me to kick, driven by ogling men. One man waved to me. Another opened his window and asked me how my run had been, smirking. Another beeped. I felt embarrassed. I felt uncomfortable. I felt unsafe.
I felt embarrassed.
I felt uncomfortable.
I felt unsafe.
Catcalling is not a compliment: it’s disgusting. A male acquaintance told me to be “pleased” – those men thought I was attractive. You’re hot, he said. I told him to stick it. There is no way -under layers of winter running gear, red-faced and huffing in my headband and turtleneck – that I look “hot”. It’s not flattering. It’s disgusting. It’s not a compliment, it’s creepy. It doesn’t make me feel pretty, it makes me feel unsafe.
It makes me feel unsafe in the way that a strange man telling me to smile makes me uncomfortable. In the same way that I smile because I just want to be left alone. It makes me look over my shoulder. It makes me run faster. It makes me not want to run.
And that, my friends, is absolute fucking bullshit.
PSA: catcalling is not a compliment. Don’t do it. K, thanks.