It's my morning custom to cleanse my head from the day before and a ritualistic beginning to my new day. Running's always been my daily inspiration, my therapy, my happy place, my solitude, my weight watcher, my whatever I need it to be. No music is needed, I'm in my head hearing only my feet and seeing only my thoughts and the trees. "Mumble... mumble ____ your pussy," he yelled whizzing by on his bike, rudely interrupting my zen run. Yes, my ZEN run. Some wimpy #@hole on a bike had the audacity to interrupt my reverie and objectify me. Out loud. How dare he.
My first thought, after I impulsively flipped him off without breaking stride and without looking back, was, "Did I ask for this?" When guys have yelled lewd comments in the past, as stereotypical as it sounds, I wondered if it was my fault. So, you be the judge (I've already judged me, as I'm always apt to do). I have on a dark pink crew-neck Nike short sleeve workout tee and the ubiquitous Nike shorts in black with white stripes. I do not have on my Athleta bra, which is my most supportive, but I do have on a very supportive workout bra. I ban the bounce because I have a C/D chest, that would draw attention if bouncing, so I don't let it. And black shoes and white socks. Nothing spectacular, nothing worth scrutiny. I'm just jogging.
If bike-boy (I didn't see him, but he's not what I think of as a man) had simply thought the words in his head, he could have enjoyed his "fantasy" of whatever he was thinking of doing to my private parts, and I could have continued to enjoy my morning. I don't care what men or women do in their heads. It's our right and privilege to have a fantasy world. Not only can we have them, but we are expected to. Just ask Sports Illustrated or Kraft... without our fantasy world, I'm not so sure the Zesty Guy would have as many women swooning over him. Kraft took objectification and twisted it on his head: the Zesty Guy is laughing with us. We watch his commercials and giggle and swoon. There's nothing crude and nobody's using sleazy words to describe him, we're all playing along. Nicely. The issue arises when we cross that fine line between flirty and dirty.
But where is the line between flirty and dirty? My gut tells me. But, it's not always so clear. If bike-boy had yelled out "Hey beautiful" would I have been offended? Probably not. But what if he had yelled out, "Nice legs." My legs were showing, aren't too sexual, and the language isn't tawdry. Flirty or dirty? Simple language, but he's yelling at me from his bike while I'm running. Has he crossed a line? And if he'd said, "Nice breasts" or "Nice rack" I'd be offended, but what if I'd just gotten a boob job? Perhaps flirty and dirty are subjective not only from the yeller's standpoint, but also from the view of who's being yelled at. But I don't like strangers yelling at me. Period.
Does the flirty v. dirty line move as we age? Chloe, at 17, would be just as shocked by bike-boy's words. The line between flirty and dirty comes from parental and family influence and may waver back and forth at stages in our lives, but I imagine the point where each of us says "ick" remains fixed. And when it's crossed, we hurt and question... and maybe even blog about it.
So, back to my run... what's the point of yelling filthy comments to women? He wasn't trying to impress friends, à la the construction worker scenario. He obviously wasn't trying to pick me up. Did it make him feel better about something? I don't have an answer, but if you do, please let me know. I'm trying to understand, so I can react appropriately next time. My running / biking path is popular and I'm not changing my route because of 1 jerk, so I'm sure to encounter him again. I'd like to learn how to deal with misogynistic jerks, and I should teach my daughter too. I believe she grasps her central point of "ick" and flirty v. dirty. Now she needs to master dealing with #@ holes without questioning herself and without flipping him off, because I don't ever want her to do the former and she's too clever to need to do the latter.
Thanks for reading my rant. I'd love your opinions and advice and to know how you react when in a similar situation. xo ~Kim