Philly, we need to talk.
I have been running your streets now for 20 years. And by running, I mean literally running. On your streets. Some of you will call it jogging. Some of you who have seen me do it might call it waddling. Or struggling. Or hobbling. But I call it running.
And, since early on in my running, I have grown accustomed to the catcalls and the horn honking. Sometimes it was something as eye-roll inducing as “Run, Forrest, Run.” (I said I have been doing this for 20 years, people thought that was something clever to yell out of a moving car 20 years ago). Other times it was gross: talking about you dude in the bushes on Kelly Drive who would yell “Hey” and then wag his limp dick. Occasionally it was frightening: like when a bro in a pick-up truck slowly followed alongside me, up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, whistling and yelling and honking his horn until I turned up a one-way street and heard him speed away screaming “bitch.” But I survived it all, chalking it up to the price I get to pay for being a woman with the audacity to leave her home ever.
This changed for me, Philly, and that is why we need to talk.
I recently visited my brother, his wife and their beautiful daughter in Austin. While I was there, I did some running. I ran in the early morning and the late morning (it is way too hot and humid to run in Austin afternoon. Also, I was often drinking afternoon). I ran through a residential development, in a park, alongside a highway, even past an active construction zone. And you know what happened? Nothing. Not a horn honk. Not a whistle. Not an unsolicited comment on how my ass looks in leggings. Nothing.
Not a thing.
I just ran. And sweat. And sometimes sang along to the music. And sometimes rhythmically flailed my arms. I stopped and took selfies with cows. And smiled at other runners. And waved to cars that gave me a wide berth on the highway. But I didn’t have to roll my eyes or give anyone the middle finger. When I passed through the active construction zone — passed men in hard hats and cowboy hats alike — I didn’t get angry or feel helpless or have to fight back the urge to turn around and tell them how inappropriate and unwanted their comments were. I just kept running. Relieved, I realized, that the catcalls and whistles and comments I was anticipating never came.
So, Philly, it seems, I shouldn’t have to accept this behavior. Because it doesn’t happen everywhere. It is time for you to do better.