Fitness Blogger's Post On What Sexual Harassment Victims "Deserve" Is Going Viral
Boston-based personal trainer and group fitness instructor Erin Bailey knows better than anyone just how sticky and gross the summer humidity can be when you're trying to get your sweat on — and unfortunately, also knows just how many uninvited comments women get for dressing to adapt to it while working out. But today the fitness blogger's post on what sexual harassment victims "deserve" is the one silver lining to the otherwise gross, misogynistic, creepy cloud that seems to follow around female runners no matter what the season.
In the post, Bailey outlines just a few examples in the last week that she worked out outside and was subject to comments and harassment from strangers. She defends her reasoning behind her attire — which, to be clear, no woman should ever have to do, regardless of its purpose — and goes on to explain just how many presumably safe spaces are made decidedly unsafe by unwelcome harassment that occurs on the daily.
"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," Bailey 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?"
After describing the various upsetting places she was harassed — parking lots, convenience stores, even the gym where she works out — she gets to the crux of the post.
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 Moms 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.
And although posts like these are always timely, this one comes at an especially scary time for female runners. As Gabrielle Paiella of The Cut pointed out last week, in the last month alone, stories of three female runners who were brutally murdered with no connection to each other have been prominently featured in the media. They're all in different areas, all under different circumstances, but united by one common thread: even in broad daylight, even in presumably the safest, securest public locations, women are at risk.
I personally get some (lighthearted) flack from my friends and fam when I post a lot about working out on social media, particularly on Instagram Stories and Snapchat — and while I keep it light and funny on those mediums, I also do it because there is an insecure, very real compulsion to record everything. Like leaving a trail of bread crumbs, just in case. Because yeah, it's Central Park, and yeah, the sun is out, but daylight didn't stop jogger Karina Vetrano from being strangled to death in Queens in on an early evening jog, or Alexandra "Ally" Brueger from being shot in Michigan while running in the afternoon, or Vanessa Marcotte from being killed in Massachusetts on her jog in the early afternoon. Even scarier? All of these occurred in August 2016, and the month is barely halfway done.
Bailey's right. We do deserve more. The problem is so much more pervasive than comments and harassment, which are already frustratingly brushed off as "harmless". They are part of a culture that allows not just those upsetting things to happen, but makes room for devastating, awful things to happen. And as not just a runner, but a woman navigating a world where it often feels like no place is ever completely safe, I hope that people listen to her plea to share their own stories, spread awareness, and help put an end to it. You can read the entirety of her blog post on her website here.