No activity is too mundane or routine for street harrassment
by Meredith McLaughlin
Staff Marathon Winner
Every other day, the mid distance squad of the track team does a five mile run through the Bronx. A little while ago we took the “scenic” route through a park, and as we were heading back we had to go under this bridge. I’m not the best runner, so I was a few feet behind the rest of the group as we’re running, and as we passed under the bridge a guy who was walking past stopped and whistled at us. I turned to look at him (because I love taking the bait and being a moron) and to be honest there’s nothing more unsettling than a middle aged man whose face is cloaked in darkness whistling at you while you pass him under a bridge.
Now I’m not writing this article because this is, like, an epidemic that plagues me and the people I run with every day. It rarely happens. But when it does you gotta wonder why guys catcall people when they’re running. When people run they don’t look cute, they look sweaty and gross and determined as hell. Women who wake up in the morning and go out to run are not looking for your greasy comments. When you’re trying to push yourself and keep up with the group the last thing you want to hear is a man say “ooh look at the pretty girls,” to his dog when you pass by. That shit will throw you off a little bit when you’re me and you react to everything that happens around you. It’s just basic social skills: you don’t harrass women for being in the same space as you. It costs $0.00 dollars to stay in your lane and not say anything, but for some reason this is is still an issue women have to deal with. What goes through the mind of a man who just catcalled a person going about their day? “Glad I woke up today :))) these college ladies are running by, really hope they liked me telling them to move those legs as I drove by in my car.” No one needs that in their life. No one has ever asked for that in their life. If i look like I’m ready to vomit on the side of the road and I hear someone tell me stuff like that without a doubt i will daydream about vomiting on them. You’re supposed to be uncomfortable when you’re running, and it’s supposed to be an uncomfortable feeling that makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something. But getting shouted at by a sleaze on the sidewalk turns that uncomfortable success feeling sour, and that’s the worst feeling of all.
There is a difference between catcalling and actual motivation, though. The person who whistles at the group when we are jogging along can step back about 800 feet, but the person who says “woo, go Fordham!” is giving me the quality content I live to see on these streets. Showing support for the school and the track team is a genuinely nice thing to do, and it makes you feel like you’re part of the larger Bronx community. I can’t speak for everyone, but hearing someone tell me to keep going while I run can give me that mental boost that I need to push myself. Catcallers like to hide behind the word “compliment” when they’re defending their rudeness, but an actual compliment is when someone takes the time to motivate you while you’re running, not when they tell you you have nice legs. People appreciate being complimented for working hard, not getting degraded for walking down the street. Whether you’re running, walking, standing, or just existing in a public place, no one has the right to harass you for being there. It’s 2016, guys. It’s time we as a society moved on from catcalling.