I need to clarify just three things at the onset of this piece:
- This is not a rant.
- This is not a generalization. But a collection of some data points
- This piece also generates from the number of random men who send FB friend requests to women runners – almost like it’s their right since they are Runners!!!!
At a recent running event, I overheard a conversation between two male runners. They were discussing a fellow female marathon runner! That she was the focus of their conversation wasn’t surprising given how stellar a runner she is! What kept me glued to the dialogue was when one of them said that he felt that runner women should be careful about not losing too much weight, because if they do, then it becomes hard to differentiate the back from the front! At this, they broke into that cheap giggle and brotherhood laughter the meaning of which we women are all too familiar with.
My reaction of disgust and disappointment at the hollowness of their conversation is besides the point! That they care her bust doesn’t look well-endowed anymore is also besides the point! What is not besides the point is that with a widely increasing running community in India, there are all sorts of people who now call themselves runners! And while usually – I place a lot of faith in the person who calls himself ‘ a runner’ – I now need to be even more careful.
And while I am often scared of being groped, pushed, hit or stalked on roads while running, here I am stuck with no better class of men in the garb of runners, or sportsmen as they would like to call themselves! Anyways, I decide to let it go. I tell myself that are there are people of all kinds in this world! I basically console myself!
I come back home to house full of excitement with Serena Williams winning her record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title by beating Angelique Kerber!
I am in awe! Through the match, I can’t stop thinking of her unique athletic abilities! How does she manage to keep it together physically and emotionally! While I watch her in action, I love her Nike tennis outfit and curse Nike for selling the worst of its sports outfits for the Indian market! I make up my mind to tell my friends in the US to send me some Serena type Nike outfits! Getting back to the game, at every shot, I admire her and get dreamy eyed seeing her win and carry her trophy around! And two days later I came across a media report that reported Serena Williams getting body shamed for visible nipples at Wimbledon
It’s truly sad that there is a part of this world that can overlook every bit of Serena Williams’ brilliance and keep her ‘showing nipples’ over and above everything else!
I am trying to imagine a girly evening among a group of female runner pals! I am trying to imagine if they would ever discuss the ridiculously tight running shorts that some men wear looking strikingly juvenile! Or what does the running movement do to their organ going up and down? Fortunately nothing like this will be ever discussed! I don’t see us being hung on such male-bashing topics at all! I do see myself asking a good male runner for running tips many many times!
Serena’s fans will defend her! She will play in peace! But what about me and my tribe of Ms.Nobodys trying to enjoy a sport? Who will defend us and ask people to stop judging us on how we look when we run? How many of you will put our athletic performance over our shrinking or increasing breasts? At least now you know why we need feminism even in sports!
So let’s just have a good run and concentrate on putting one foot after the other? A little food for thought, perhaps?
An explanation on the Featured Image used for this Article
The reason for writing that this article is not a generalization is that Mr. Preet Singh who is running in the photo with me is an inspiring runner friend. He has paced me for a couple of runs and has been a catalyst in bettering my run performance. He happily agreed to allow us to use this photo for the article. Thank you Preet for being a sport!
Well said. I agree men dont think much before passing comments like these. Not acceptable of course. The only way to keep confronting them and am sure they will change their behaviour. Reading your blog they would have got the message, I am sure.
Hopefully some of them out there have got the point!
it is not only shameful but disgusting on the part of sick runners who passed such comments.i am sure their mindset must be sickening.it does not take anything to pass such comments ,bur that does not make them brave. i pray to God to give them. intellect (subudhi)
Absolutely wonderful post. I am a hobby runner and the lengths females have to go through to “disguise” our body parts so that nothing jiggles or looks out of place on a run, irks me.
Men are men but they need to change especially sportsmen.
Yes Shruti! You really said it! They should try to talk like sportsman! judge us like sportsmen! there is enough to handle on the groping, stalking, touching part on the road! So let us be at least off the road!
I hear you. Your angst is understandable.
But hey, don’t generalise. There are good guys out there too !!!
And thank God for that, GS!
Firstly, as a man, I apologize for this shit that happens. Makes it all the more tough for women to take up any outdoor activity.
Secondly, I am surprised you lived with the premise that men, whether sportsmen or otherwise, will atleast not indulge in such jokes on the fairer sex.
Au contrair, here is my life long premise. Humans by default are dumb. I repeat humans by default are dumb. It is for this reason that smart people are carefully pointed out and honoured and remembered and become successful/famous.
I like that life long premise :)! I am part of it! I am completely aware that men indulge in jokes on women all the time. The mistake I made, in my thinking, is that true sportsmen value performance (male or female) more than looks! and isn’t that how sports should mould us to be in better people?
apologies accepted 🙂
Hey Tanya, well written and expressed! Agree that we are under the scanner for the not so relevant reasons than being appreciated for real ones! However, there is a set of men who are encouraging, motivating and great company to run!
Never denied that there are a set of men we run with on daily basis who help us keep the fun and the passion of the sport alive! But I can’t ignore the fact that there is a huge running community out there made of all all types of men!
So true that is Tanya.It takes a lot character and sportsmanship for men to accept the prowess and untouchable success their female counterparts . ..snide remarks mustn’t ever let down our spirits. Let’s shine on and keep up our love for the sport.
True Savita! We will continue to do it because we really like to despite all odds! 🙂
Running is the flavor of the season and every MCP wanabe is running these days. As long as our society does not treat a woman with respect and as an equal this obnoxious behavior will continue. Nor all Indian men are MCP jerks
That’s right, Gerry! I am running with a very good group here! But as you rightly said there is an increasing number of people getting into running on daily basis! So yes there will be creepers joining the running community, too!
Embarrassed and speechless.
One can’t apologise for certain things as it just does not make any sense, Because an apology may not necessarily change the mental culture or thought process of men like these .
I am more embarrassed thinking that I would also be looked upon like one of them, and there is no obvious way to prove it.
On behalf of such men, I don’t ask for forgiveness, yet I am sorry.
Manik, you can actually help out by sorting such men out next time you hear them talk like this! That would be a favour!
It’s bad … Running is a community where I feel that best part is we all feel like a family no one thinks about men or women , age , married , unmarried etc …. Commenting on someone like this is always embarrassing and being runner is more shameful as Its its the spirit in this community which is making it bigger every day and we need to be sensible to make everyone feel comfortable and secure so that they come forward and make this society a healthy one
That’s right Gauarav! Running is the new fad and new love for a lot of people in our country right now. Like everything else it will take tie for people to evolve as true runners!
Well done Tanya. Your keen interest in sports and performance is amazing and you have done a courageous thing by taking a stand. The world is full of idiots and people like you are a ray of hope. Something about performance, when i ran half marathon last year (mine first), lots of girls finished ahead of me. They and other many female runners have my respect for their ability.
Let me assure you that there are people who respect you for your sportsmanship and performance so keep it going.
Thanks Naresh! Glad you enjoyed reading the article! Yes – just keep running!
Nice Article, and a bit thought provoking as well.
At times, it is natural to be sensitive and misinterpret dumb yet innocent comments on the other sex, especially if the other sex happens to be the fairer one. I am sure that the guys who passed such comments wouldn’t have made them if they knew that a lady was nearby who could overhear what they were talking about.
Also, I bet that it is just loose talk, albeit extremely careless, that those men did, and that they didn’t harbor any negative intentions (in terms of grouping, teasing, or whatever).
I have also, at times, overheard the fairer sex passing such comments.
At times, it is important to understand the intentions before we make strong generalized comments. And at times, one just ignores it and moves on. At other times, one just laughs it off.