I originally published this piece on Medium.
I’m a female runner, so I’m sexually harassed a lot. In the eight years since I’ve taken up the sport, I’ve received all sorts of unwanted objectification. For instance, I run fifty miles a week, but I can’t run a mile without enduring an obnoxious car honk. I hear lots of comments about my ass, how good it looks in my shorts, how bad it looks in my shorts, how badly “he” wants it. “He” could be old enough to be my father. “He” could be young enough to be my son. It doesn’t matter; the hecklers run the gamut.
This past summer, I ran hundreds of miles around town in my I’M WITH HER t-shirt. Men still honked. They continued to let me know what they thought of my ass. One trucker circled the park I was sprinting through several times, looking for the just the right opportunity to pull up beside me and tell me I’m “absolutely beautiful. A real gem.”
Let me be clear: It’s not okay to honk at a woman while she’s running, or walking, or sitting by the side of the road smoking a cigarette. It’s not okay to drive up next to her, as if you’re about to kidnap her, and tell her she’s a real gem.
I’ve never told my harassers this. Mostly because I’m too focused on my running or whatever life catastrophe I’m running to escape. Also, partly, because I know many of them are too ignorant to know they’re wrong. They think they’re being nice. For better or worse, I feel sorry for them.
Last Tuesday afternoon, election day, I ran with a little extra pep in my step. Like most people, I thought, for sure, that Hillary would win. That America would finally have its first female president. Maybe then I’d hear fewer car honks and comments about my ass. Maybe then men would see me as a serious athlete, not just a piece of meat.
But Hillary didn’t win.
I woke up Wednesday in a state of profound devastation. I couldn’t eat. I didn’t want to run. At 9PM, I downed a protein shake, threw on a sweatshirt and stumbled outside for a somber five mile jog. I threw up twice. No one honked. It was dark and the streets were empty. It seemed America was grieving with me.
On Thursday, I woke up defiant. I put my Hillary t-shirt back on. I charged the streets in broad daylight, so everyone would see. Cars honked. Men rolled down their windows. “Nice ass!” they shouted. Until I ran facing traffic, and they saw what my shirt said.
“You’re a fucking pig,” snarled a man waiting for the light to turn green in his Chevy Silverado.
“You lost!” jeered the man behind him.
Several miles down the road, someone riding shotgun spat at me.
I live in a blue state.
I’m no stranger to sexual harassment. I’ve been a runner for eight years. I’ve been a woman for thirty-one. I’ve been called a slut, a whore, and a pig before, but never with such spite as I heard from these men, just days after America elected a boastful, villainous, self-aggrandizing misogynist to be its next president. No one spat at me before Donald Trump’s shameful victory.
I am frightened for my country. I am terrified for my fellow female runners. America was already unsafe for us before Donald Trump. But I will continue to run around town in my I’M WITH HER shirt, smiling at every person I see. Even if you call me a pig. Even if you spit in my face. Even if you tell me I lost.
Because I have nothing to lose.
Because I am a woman, I have incredible endurance. I will run through the worst vitriol. And I will protest until love trumps hate.