Marathon Diary - Part II, or Sex and Sexism in Marathons

Why do men have nipples?
Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg tried to answer the question in this book. If as a guy you never wondered or even paid much attention to your diminished twin assets then you will once you try to run more than 7 or 8 miles. God bless you if do this on a hot day with a cotton t-shirt. This is just one of the many things that you learn along the way. A little lubrication goes a long way.

Can they do it or should we allow them to do it?
The jockstrap was invented in 1874, and the jog bra was invented in 1977. This just goes to show the sexism rampant in sport. In sport, it is most apparent when it comes to the marathon. During the Boston Marathon in 1967, race official Jock Semple yelled at #261 - Katherine Switzer, "Get out of my race!" and then tried to rip off her bib number. Since women were not allowed to compete she had registered illegally and she showed women could run 26.2 miles. It took another 5 years till finally in 1972 women were officially allowed to compete in Boston. The IOC took another 12 years before the made it an Olympic event, a full 88 summers after Spiridon Louis won the first Olympic Marathon in Athens.

My own Stanford Prison Experiment
Occasionally I do get honked at when I am running, since I sometimes run red-lights or do not strictly cross at zebra-crossings. But more than a couple of times I was simply honked at while I wasn't annoying any drivers. And always, it has been a bunch of a girls in the car who honk, then scream at me, laugh and then zoom off. I am always taken aback at first, since I don't expect that, then flattered, and then I wonder - "Lord, why me?". Was it something to do with my high-cut running shorts? (The reason for the sexy shorts is related to the problem described at the start, but let's not go there!) Were they cheering? If they were, then why did they always laugh and drive off? It is flattering to teased by eves and a moment to be treasured, since how often does this happen, huh? It does make me think more deeply about eve-teasing. While it is often a yucky guy-thing to do, I think that anyone will do it provided he or she is in a powerful or advantageous position. Often, men are in a position of advantage should a confrontation occur. In my case, the usual positions were reversed in favour of these girls. They were in a group, in a car and I was alone and on the road running alone in skimpy shorts. It set up a situation where they could get away with it. Only in this case, as I guy, I felt it was as much fun for me as it was for them. Eve-teasing is a product of the environment that gives a certain set of people power over another set, as shown by the Stanford Prison Experiment. The Blank Noise Project is one of the most courageous and powerful attempts at changing the status-quo. They have hit the nail on the head with their direct action program. Women need not constantly feel vulnerable and passively accept the humiliation of being eve-teased. The best way to deal with the problem is to tackle it head-on and challenge the perception that there is indeed an asymmetry of power. So guys, be prepared to be honked at!

2 comments:

Ashutosh said...

I completely agree with you that eve-teasing depend upon what the situation is set up to be. Given the chance, both Adams and Eves can pass snide comments and snicker. But somehow, it's just been more statistically prevelant with men. I don't think women don't do it, but men are often deluded into thinking that they are in a position of power I think.

Ashutosh said...

On the other hand, I often get honked at when I am walking home on a quiet evening by drivers, irrespective of gender. And I don't wear sexy shorts, still!