Thursday, May 6, 2010

Woman. Whoa-man.

Middle Fork Trail near Indian Creek in the Frank Church Wilderness
August 2009
All Alone.

I am a runner. I like to run. I may not run everyday, I may not run every week, but it’s in my blood and in my genes and I accept it fully. I may not be as fast as some, but I’m faster than others and it doesn’t matter either way. I’m just another girl, out there, running.

The other day I bought a book on running, specifically for the reason of training for a 10k, half marathon, and eventual full marathon. I bought the book The Complete Book of Running for Women.

It should’ve gone as no surprise that the sixth chapter was titled, “Running Safely.” And it didn’t mean safety from injury; it meant from being attacked.

Do you ever have moments where you have almost an out of body experience? Where you’re put somewhere else and suddenly realize, “Oh wait, that is my life,” before you come tumbling back to earth? Like you forgot your circumstances, your past, your present, and you saw everything for the first time?

I had that when I saw the headline to the chapter. It’s not like I don’t know I need to be safe running. I don’t even walk from my apartment to my car without a game plan about what I’m going to do if some jackass is hiding in the bushes. As freeing as runs are, I constantly have to bring myself back to attention about where I am, what’s around the next corner, if anyone would notice if I was gone. But reading that chapter just reaffirmed, “No, this isn’t a bad dream, this is your reality. You will never be 100% safe because you are a woman.”

And I’m not trying to get all extreme-man-hating-woman-mafia on you guys, but how much does that fucking suck??

A couple months ago I was reading Cunt; A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio (per recommendation from my awesome lady friends in Boise) about being a woman in our culture and its influences on our lives on our relationships and our bodies. It is definitely a fierce, woman-power book (as you can tell by the title), but even I was having a hard time reading about how much men suck. Because men don’t all suck. They aren’t all raping, pillaging, thieving, self-serving assholes. The men in my family are amazing, my guy friends are amazing, my boyfriend is amazing. But there are those guys out there who ruin it for everyone.

However, the book had some very valid points. I came to a chapter titled, “The Anatomical Jewel,” where she discusses something as simple as getting on her bike to go to the store, at night, to pick up soy milk. She actually dresses as a man so that no attention is paid to her. Her language may be considered “colorful” for some of you, but she writes,

“I’m fully privy to the reality that my cunt’s presence on my body can inspire people with cocks to attempt to exert their power by attempting to humiliate me. I have no illusions about what happens to women in “the wrong place at the wrong time.” I have seen too many movies, read too many newspapers, watched too many episodes of Unsolved Mysteries. I know too many people who have been raped. I do not pretend too realistically that I am free to go where I please.”

Now, I may not have agreed with her that everything bad on this earth was because of a man, but where could I disagree with her on this?

Think about this statement once more:

“I do not pretend too realistically that I am free to go where I please.”

I think sometimes I like to pretend I can go wherever I please, because I am an independent, adult woman. However, I forget that I don’t go wherever I please because it is automatically ingrained in me not to go certain places. It is automatically ingrained in me not go certain places alone at certain times of day with or without certain people.

Obviously there is inherent danger in some situations with anyone, male of female, but how many more situations are there present for just female? And I’m living in a country where I’m considered lucky.

I know I’m beating a dead horse here, repeating what everyone has known from the beginning of time, because until recently, women couldn’t go anywhere by themselves.

But I am saying this because I am seriously going to start looking for self-defense classes in Corvallis. (I should mention Corvallis was ranked one of the safest cities in the U.S., but that doesn’t matter. As a woman, my chances are 1 in 4 that I will be raped in my lifetime. I don’t like those odds.)

I want to go running. Running is my release, running makes me feel strong, it is freedom. I want to go on a run by myself and be free. And although I’ll never be fully free, I don’t want to just think about what I would do if someone did jump out of a bush, I want to know what I would do.

And seriously, I mean if I haven’t in the next month come up with a class I’m going to attend, I want all of you to hold me to it. And if you’re one of my rockin’ woman friends (or just a woman who has stumbled across this), I hope you have too.

And if you’re a man-- love the women in your life. Honor them, be good to them, and let them blossom. Let them feel free in a world where they may not be.

And don’t you dare think you’re better than them. You never know if they’ve learned to throw twice their body weight on the floor and hang anyone in their way out to dry.


Brandi said...

you know, I have to agree with you. I've very rarely felt unsafe anywhere I've been. and in fact, rarely ever even think about my safety at any given moment. It's so strange to think that that is not the case a fair amount of the time.

Kristan said...


Thanks for writing this. Towards the very end, I got chills while reading. I have never ever had thoughts that I could not go somewhere at a certain time. That's my small-town mind I suppose. I have been running a lot more lately and I was thinking I should get a head lamp if I wanted to run at night and the thought never crossed my mind that that would be a dangerous idea. I was only thinking of potholes and neglected sidewalks. I would never run on the greenbelt at night, though. I like that you wrote this. I like it a lot. Men are beautiful creatures. Women are beautiful too. I couldn't imagine my life without men. I used to carry pepper spray, but a self defense class seems pretty smart. Love you hot beauty.

Amanda said...

I didn't want to write this to freak people was more of a reaction I had to the injustice, unfairness, and complete outrage-ness the reality is of simply being a woman. We have a higher risk of being attacked not just on a run alone, but on doing anything alone in this world. Maybe for some women this isn't something they think about because they don't need such freedoms. But for me, nothing irritates me more than seeing men doing something and realizing I can't do it, not because I'm unable, but because it is unsafe for anyone without a penis.

Jamie said...

Amanda, Thanks for your thoughts! It's something that has been on my mind quite a bit lately. The topic has come up in my classes and with friends. I'm a little worried about traveling this year so I'm signing up for self defense class.
It's a privilege to be able to go anywhere at anytime without worrying about these sorts of things!