I’m a 19 year old female uni student, and I went for a run for the first time in a while today at 10.30am. I was next to a busy park where I had passed families and other runners, when a van honked the horn at me and the man in the passenger seat stuck his head out the window and pulled a suggestive facial expression and shouted something. I immediately felt uncomfortable and objectified. This is not a new thing – I remember being 14 years old and walking up the hill to an evening hockey club at school with my other female friends. We were honked by car horns on multiple occasions & it’s been happening ever since.
Cycled past two blokes standing by a van, they yelled at “Surely you can cycle faster than that darling?” Rolled my eyes and kept going to the gym.
I regularly workout at the gym, and when I do really heavy squats it’s a bit of an effort for me to lift the bar out of the rack; it wobbles a bit, but it’s always fine. I can control it and wouldn’t attempt anything I struggled with too much. This guy who had been watching me while he did his workout came running over to help, and I told him I was fine and to leave it. He didn’t. He insisted on staying with me while I did the squats (that I’m perfectly capable of doing) even though I said “no.” Still, every time I squatted down he grabbed my waist and pulled me up. Every time he did this I said “no,” “please don’t,” or “you’re really putting me off.” He kept doing it. When we re-racked the bar I told him “please don’t, you’re making me nervous” and he laughed it off and walked away. The next set he came running back over and I told him “no, I really don’t want you to help me” and he insisted on standing there “just in case,” then continued to grab me every time. He wasn’t for taking no for an answer so I gave up in the end and went to do something else.
Out running, streets aren’t so light. Car beeps for the fun of it as they drive past you. Then circles the area and comes back for another beep. When will we leave this behind?
Was at my boxing class today. We were doing squats near the end and this man walked over and decided that I needed encouragement to do them. I told him I didn’t want his help. He said come on I will do them with you. I told him again that I didn’t want his help. I then told him that he was embarrassing me (because most of the class was looking at me) He told me that he wasn’t (how the hell does he know how I feel). I told him again that he was embarrassing me. He still carried on so I stopped and walked away. I was furious. Yet another example of an ignorant and controlling man.
Today at the gym I was in the middle of a shoulder rehabilitation exercise set which my physiotherapist had just gone through with me an hour earlier. A man comes over, makes me remove my earphones, and then tells me I am doing it incorrectly. I looked at him with a puzzled expression as I had been ‘in the zone’ – then he goes on to demo how I should lower the cable point and bend more in order to get a stretch in my back. I told him – well I am not targeting my back, I am doing shoulder rehab given by my physio. To which he replies ‘well this exercise is much better for your shoulder’ and demos another one which is on my regime. I said ‘yes I also do that one’ and managed to dismiss him and go back to my exercise, but he made me feel like I had to apologise to him for not doing as per his instructions. Men approaching me in the gym to depart their so called wisdom happens about once a week. I have been playing sports to a decent level all my life and do weights in the gym about five times a week, there is no reason for anyone to think I don’t know what I am doing. Not that it’s entirely relevant but I have a Masters degree in Engineering (really I am not an idiot). But of course these men assume they have superior knowledge to me as I lack a penis, and they feel they are in full right to disturb me in order to ‘help’. It is hard for me to be rude as there is often a small chance that they have good intentions, so all I can do is stand my ground and be dismissive.
In the last month I have been honked at by male van or lorry drivers 3 times whilst out running near my home. I don’t understand why??
Following a serious health problem six months ago, I have taken up running to get fit. I will freely admit that I am larger than I should be and I probably don’t look that attractive in exercise gear, but I don’t think that excuses the repeated catcalls, horns being honked and abuse being shouted at me. People think it’s okay to say things like ‘run fat girl run’ to me in the street. Substitute the word boy or man for girl and it wouldn’t ever happen. Today a guy wound down his car window, leered at me and called me a slag when I told him to leave me alone. I have lived where I live for more than five years and I love the area, but I increasingly feel that I don’t want to go out on the street and exercise and that I don’t have the same right to occupy public space as other people.