Dear Douchebag


Dear Douchebag Who Shouted Abuse at Me While I Was Running Last Night,

I would like to serve you a portion of screw you with a side order of shut the f*ck up.

‘Get moving!’ you shouted as me and a bunch of my running crew buddies breezed past you. Thanks for the coaching n’ all, but you were standing outside a fish and chip shop with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth – forgive me if I conclude that you’re perhaps not at the peak of your fitness yourself. ‘You should get moving!’ I jokingly shouted back only for you to respond with ‘I don’t think so – you need to move it more than the rest of ’em love.’

Ahh, so because I made a come back and challenged you on your douchery, perhaps made you feel a little self conscious about your own lifestyle choices, your immediate go-to, as with so many other douchebaggy men of your ilk, is to comment on my appearance. Of course! I’m not a size zero and I have the cheek to be seen in public running! How dare I!

Here’s the thing – I genuinely don’t give a crap about your comment because frankly, I could probably squat your weight, I have a killer left hook that could floor you and I know you wouldn’t be able to hang with me for a mile, so trust me, I’m not self conscious about my body, because I focus on what it can do. And believe it or not, I wasn’t put on earth to be visually appealing to you.

What irked me is that as a woman, it is rare I’m able to go out for a run without some idiot male like you feeling the need to comment. Yours was quite tame in comparison. Clearly, you’re a novice to the street harassment game. Usually I get very focused comments about my legs or bum or breasts because obviously while running I need to make sure all of these things look visually appealing to the opposite sex rather than just focusing on, you know, the actual running part. I must look perfect at all times. As a woman, that is my duty to society.

Why do you feel the need to comment? What do you get out of it? Did you sleep better last night knowing you just implied a slender female running past you was actually obese? It made you feel good about yourself? Seriously, what is it? Explain it to me. Help me understand. Why can’t you just see a female runner and keep your mouth shut?

Lucky it was me your shouted at, who is confident in her body and abilities. What concerns me, as an advocate for female empowerment through exercise, is if you’d have made a comment like this to a woman who was out on her first run. Someone for whom it had taken a great deal of time and confidence building to even take those first steps. Someone who perhaps is self conscious about their weight and is running as a means to address that. If you’d have said that to a woman like that, it may knock her off course completely and make her not want to do it anymore.

We are judged about the way we look every single waking moment of the day as women. We are allowed to look sweaty. We are allowed to be a big jiggly when we run. We are allowed to be red faced. We do not run for your approval. Not yours or your beer bellied, ash-tray mouthed friends standing outside pubs. Our bodies are ours. We’re not awaiting your score card judgement.

So screw you, man. And any time you want to come run with me, just let me know. I’ll have the paramedics on stand by.


Female runners everywhere.

25 Responses to “Dear Douchebag”
  1. Jess says:

    Whenever people tell me they don’t want to run outside incase people stare or shout things, I just feel sad. I rarely get comments and I am an overweight runner. It hurts but, like you, I’m confident enough in what I can do that the sting disappears quite quickly.

    I tell people that no one cares if they are running and they probably won’t get comments. Probably isn’t enough. It annoys me that some people aren’t getting what I get from running because they are worried about what some worthless douche-bags think.

  2. Stevie says:

    Yes! So fed up with the horrible comments I get when running or cycling. In fact, I’ve come to expect them, so last night when someone yelled at me ‘keep going, you’re doing great’, I waited for the inevitable sexist follow up comment. For once I was pleasantly surprised that it was all he had to say.

    Check out @everydaysexism on Twitter – loads of comments from women out running, I’ve seen quite a few say music is now essential to block out these idiots.

  3. Well said!

    Sadly this is all too familiar and it definitely affects me to the point where I don’t want to go outside for a run. I’m still a reasonably new runner, far from size 0 and wearing lycra in public is definitely not my favourite thing, so when someone makes those comments it makes me want to turn around and sprint back home.

    Can’t wait to grow the confidence (and ability) to feel as confident as you – until then, I’ll just keep this letter in the back of my head!


  4. Lucy says:

    Well said Bangs!

  5. Love this!! I haven’t really ever had anything shouted at me, but the horn beeping from blokes in trucks used to drive me nuts, my music blocks everything out now. I don’t understand what people get out of it?

  6. R says:

    Thank you for this!
    I <3 you!

  7. Scallywag says:

    Women can be just as bad (though less sleazy) I am a slimmish (UK 10-12, 5ft 8″, its horrible that i feel the need to confirm that) runner and a women once said to her friend as I jogged past “See, she runs and shes not thin!”

    I mean… well done for encouraging your friend to run lady… but you might want to warn her that running doesnt make you DEAF.

  8. Marijn says:

    If only I could I would take this blog to Las Vegas & marry it tonight!

  9. Vic says:

    Weirdly same thing happened to me this week. Chubby dude at a chip shop yelled “yoooooooooo look at her, she’s pretty fast… For a girl”. Actually pal, I am fast- for a human. I like running. I don’t like your perving and your stupid comments- which I assume will put people off exercising in our neighbourhood. As an act of defiance I will smash my marathon target on Monday. And every step will be smooshing your chip filled belly into the pavement.

  10. pat says:

    I am a guy and this kind of attitude makes me totally sick. It is good that you voice up about these things so all the men who, like me, disapprove will also realise how much shit women get everyday.

  11. kathleen @kat_rocket says:

    A few years ago I was running through Cardiff and I had to cross a road. I was aware that there were cyclists coming but I felt I had plenty of time to get out their way. As I got to the other side the group started heckling me and I was told to ‘get out of the way you fucking bitch’. As I turned I realised that the group were wearing Wales cycling team gear. I got home, angry and shaken and emailed Welsh cycling to inform them that a group of their male members had abused me. The reply I received was so disinterested and half hearted. If that’s how seriously a governing body of sport take it then what chance have we got with douche bags at chip shops.
    Oh and a couple of months ago I got called a cunt by a group of boys in a car.

  12. Catherine says:

    Why oh why do they think they have to say something. One creep stuck his head out of his car window and offered to join me in my post-run shower. I felt quite sick.

  13. Teresa says:

    Sorry you had to deal with this but I like your point that I’m glad it was me and not some girl on her first run. What makes me feel even worse is girl runners out there will be subjected to this. So many high school/ middle school aged female runners have disordered eating problems, and it makes me ill to think of creeps like this commenting like this or making the pointed boob/ bum/ sex comments…

  14. In Barcelona it happens quite often. A combination of drunken idiots in the early hours, and sexist twerps during the rest of the day. A friend of mine swears by always listening to music, more and more I believe she is right. When I run or powerwalk with my dog I don’t listen to music and that’s when I hear the comments. Once a guy was so disgusting and because he did it repeatedly as I ran around my neighbourhood, he actually tried to grab me. I told a policeman who was standing there that the guy was harassing me. The policeman asked me to go around again so he could see if the weirdo did it again. I refused on the grounds that I am no bait, and I wasn’t going to put myself or my dog in harms way again. He then proceeded to ask me where I was from, and told me how he had been trying to learn English recently…. ???? The weirdo is still being a douchebag, but this letter is being posted on my Twitter, my Facebook, and now I feel a hundred times better. Whilst it’s sad we all have way too many similar experiences to talk about, it’s nice that everyone here understands, and that we can reduce our experiences to what it all boils down to: a bunch of sad losers with nothing better to do.

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  16. Chloe says:

    Quite a few months ago while out running on my own, I was running towards and man with his dog and he (kindly, I thought) stopped and moved out of the way so I could get past on the pavement. However, he proceeded to say ‘hurry up, chunk’ as I ran past. I haven’t felt comfortable running on my own since. I’m over weight and serious lack in confidence, especially when running. Luckily my hubby is also a runner and comes with me.

  17. Vivien says:

    That guy is a complete Douchebag.. unfortunately that would put a lot of women off getting out and running.

  18. Angela says:

    Ugh I hear ya! It was great you could respond with humour. I just snarl or stare straight ahead.

    I recently moved from Canada to Rome and I am shocked by the amount of street harassment that happens: truck drivers that stop in the middle of the street to yell, lots of tss-ing, and some random dude actually grabbed my leg while I was passing. I try not to let it affect my view of running, but I admit I change my route to avoid construction workers. This is a good reminder to not let gross, entitled dudes stop me from doing what I love!

  19. Wow this proper sucks that people feel the need to shout stuff at runners – I’ve never come across it myself (or have never been aware as I always run with music), so I guess I’m lucky.

    I did once get some really horrible comments about my legs last summer when just back from Bestival wearing shorts – these comments came from a drunken, probably crack-addicted waster of a WOMAN who made me feel like utter shit and I swore then never to wear those shorts again for fear of my chunky thighs being ridiculed again. She actually followed me to the shop and back shouting abuse at me and challenged me to a fight when I told her to do one.

    I’m over it now and realise that she actually doesn’t have much of a life and I shouldn’t let her bother me but it really, really did at the time. People like her, and the douchebag man/men your letter so rightly puts in their place, should take a look in the mirror and address their own insecurities before having a go at others x

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