woman running harassment

CNN Cites “Startling” Number of Women Harassed While Jogging, Prompting Women Everywhere to Ask, “Startling to Whom?”

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CNN published a survey this week, conducted by Runner’s World, which details the amount of harassment female runners experience. The author and/or headline writer called the prevalence of harassment towards women joggers “startling.” To which pretty much every woman reading that headline replied:

I’m not sure what statistic could have actually been startling in this context. I don’t think I would have been startled if it was 100%.

(Spoiler: It was.)

In fact, the number of women who reported being harassed while running was startling, in that the number given–43%–seems startlingly low. By comparison, 4% of men reported being harassed while jogging.

Additionally, 30% of women surveyed said they have been followed while running (by a person in a car, bicycle or on foot), 18% said they have been sexually propositioned, and 5% said they have been flashed. 54% of women said they worried about their physical safety while running or preparing to run.

The 2016 survey was published by CNN yesterday in the wake of the murder of Mollie Tibbetts, who went missing while out for her regular evening run. In this article, the author writes that “there’s a world of difference between catcalls or wolf whistles and the fatal violence that befell Mollie Tibbetts.”

But is there? Only 3% of the women surveyed here report being physically assaulted while running, but for every woman who is yelled at, followed, or otherwise harassed, we never know if that encounter will be one of the 3%. And dismissing harassment as commonplace or inevitable or just words only allows that 3% to happen.

CNN’s article is full of quotes from women explaining what they do to avoid harassment, and what they do to keep harassment from escalating. And the comments on the article are full of men explaining to women what they should be doing, and letting those women know that they don’t think there’s any solution to that harassment.

The solution to street harassment is likely a long way off, but surely it starts with people finally taking it seriously, no?

(image: Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.