Perception of Equality is Not Universal.

I am incredibly disappointed with the commentary on the nation’s Women’s Marches, both by those for and by those against. The lack of charity is overwhelming.

Opinions should be expressed. This is how we learn. There is a means to expressing one’s opinion without belittling, shaming, or guilting those that disagree. I am appalled by some of my fellow women. I have seen judgement of moral character. For some, this issue has determined whether another is a good person or not, expressed in nothing more than a hastily written sentence. How incredibly sad. Are we blind to the irony and injustice of this? If you’ve never felt victimized for your gender, I am so glad. That doesn’t give you the right to cheapen another’s experience.If you have felt victimized, you’ve no right to impose on others why they should.

Had I been able to, I would have absolutely marched. I know a lot of women who wouldn’t have. That’s okay. That’s more than okay. I deeply respect many of those women.

I am not a feminist because all women have felt victimized for their gender. I am a feminist because I have. In my experience, institutionalized gender equality does not automatically instill societal gender equality. Words on paper have changed. Many minds have not. I do not speak for everyone. This is one girl’s experience in a man’s world. And it’s trivial, but that’s why it’s important. I would have marched for numerous other reasons. But injustice often occurs at the most trivial of levels, and many are calloused to it.

I run everyday on the streets of an average sized city. If I am alone, these are the comments I hear nearly daily from men:

“Keep trying, fatass.”

“Work that ass, girl.”

“Eat some fucking cake, you look disgusting.”

“Put some clothes on, slut.”

“You’re fucking ugly.”

“Hey bitch, you want this?”

It gets worse.

And, men have exposed themselves to me. Twice.

When it’s warmer out, I am typically running in a baggy t-shirt and loose shorts.This does NOT mean if I were running in anything different that these comments would be justified. I’m just trying to give a little perspective for comparison.

I’ve asked some of the men on my cross country team about their experience on the same streets. They run shirtless and in shorts often shorter than mine (again, not suggesting indecency, just giving perspective). Runners always get innocently catcalled. “Run, Forrest, Run” is an (unoriginal) favorite. Yet, the men I spoke with hadn’t heard anything overtly objectifying. Comments were far less frequent.

The man who runs the same streets that I do hears nothing outright offensive or objectifying on his run. He is above the crude remarks. He is an equal. He is a person.

But I’m not. I’m just a source of amusement—an object, a toy. A joke. And I’m instantly reminded that every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in America.

I do not believe every male runner has not experienced objectification, this is a sample that I’ve gotten information from. I’m also not suggesting all men scream at female runners. I believe most men don’t. But many do, and many think it’s okay.

I am not a dog. I am not a  creature to scream profanities at for amusement. I am an equal. And until this, among many other more pressing things, is not occurring regularly, I will pursue changing the population’s mindset on gender equality.

Tell me why you did not march, not why others should not have. I will tell you why I would have, I will not tell you you are wrong in not marching. How about that?