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Open Letter

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ASK ANGIE
November 17, 2011

To the boy on the bike who asked for my number,

 

Hello, I’m not sure what exactly possessed you to get on your bike, ride down the hill, and follow me until I reached the intersection in order to ask for my number while I was on a run. But I want you, as well as men like you in general, to understand why I said “Um, no, sorry” and then ran away.

In case you were not aware, women in general are subject to undesired attention all over the nation and world. On the city streets, women are catcalled. In the workplace, women are seen as objects rather than co-workers or supervisors. Everywhere, a woman can be subject to stares, unempathetic comments, and objectification.

My discomfort with your desire to get my number and the likely subsequent tries to get with me aligns with the discomfort all women feel when given unwanted sexual or objected attention. For me, all I wanted at that time was to take a break from my life as a college student and go on a run alone. If I wanted to get numbers or attention at that time, I would not have been on a run. A woman running usually gives off the air of wanting to be left in peace to run, unless she respectfully approaches you first. She does not want to have to worry about the cyclist following her, or his abrupt and brash desire for her number. She also dislikes her nervousness that she will be perceived as rude for rejecting him in a society that has allowed and championed the desires of men over women for so long.

In short, boy on the bike, respect women. Please instead allow me to run in peace when that is all I would like to do. Please allow all other women the same right in all aspects of your life. And I could say the same for the man who rolled down the window of his car to look at me and whistle earlier during that run, and to all men who have catcalled, objectified, and not respected women.

I’ll leave you with that note, in some hope to increase gender equality and end the fear and anger that many women have on being taken advantage of or disrespected. I would like to enjoy my right to my future runs in peace without the certain anxieties of being ill at ease that most women who are alone possess. But more important, we must work to grow respect for all women, and all genders and all people, so these fears can be abated and replaced with respect and love. Don’t we all owe it to each other to let people run in peace?

 

Best Regards,

 

The girl who just wants to run

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Open Letter