10.28.16 | L.V. Anderson
On Thursday, Runner’s World published the results of a survey of 4,670 runners about safety and harassment, and it turns out that both men and women feel extremely safe and respected while running. Just kidding! Women get harassed and threatened way more often than men do. Forty-three percent of female runners who took the poll said that they receive unsolicited sexual attention, comments about their bodies, honks, whistles, and other types of harassment “always,” “often,” or “sometimes.” Only 4 percent of male runners said that they got sexually harassed with a similar frequency. Harassment is an even worse problem for younger women: 58 percent of women under 30 reported that they get harassed while running at least sometimes. Women who responded to the survey shared stories of hearing comments like “nice tits,” “let’s gang rape her,” and “ungrateful bitch” while out jogging.
“In the vast majority of cases, it’s not life-threatening,” writes Runner’s World contributing editor Michelle Hamilton in a special report accompanying the survey results. “But it is pervasive, and it’s upsetting, and it’s most likely happening to you or someone you know.”
The participants in the Runner’s World survey weren’t randomly selected—they opted to take the survey after Runner’s World put out a call on social media—so it’s not accurate to imply, as some have, that the survey results reflect the experiences of all runners. There could certainly be some selection bias at work, although Runner’s World framed the survey as being about “how at ease runners feel on the roads and trails where they usually log miles,” not about sexual harassment. That neutral framing hopefully attracted runners from a wide range of backgrounds.