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Track and cross country girls face catcalling

Running+down+the+street%2C+freshman+Emma+Caplinger+trains+for+upcoming+cross+country+summer+camps.
Running down the street, freshman Emma Caplinger trains for upcoming cross country summer camps.

Running down the street, freshman Emma Caplinger trains for upcoming cross country summer camps.

Lydia Harter

Lydia Harter

Running down the street, freshman Emma Caplinger trains for upcoming cross country summer camps.

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Catcalling, commenting or yelling at women passing by, is a widespread problem among the girls who run track and cross country.  

They tell me and my teammates to run faster, they comment on our bodies or they just yell and try to scare us,” sophomore Natalie Butler said.

According to junior Emily Dickson, she gets catcalled every time she runs on the road.

“It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, people are still going to yell at you to go faster,” Dickson said. “The more directive comments come when you’re just in a tank top or in your sports bra and shorts, but it’s not our responsibility to change what we wear because of the people [catcalling us].”

Nobody wants to be looked at as anything less than their entire person.”

— Emma Caplinger

Despite the numerous instances these girls are catcalled when they run, in their experience, it is always men who catcall them.

“It’s alarming how much it has become a norm in life and I think it needs to be stopped,” Butler said. “Men should be taught respect.”

Although catcalling is often ignored, it is a form of sexual objectification because it isolates a woman’s body from her whole self.

“When men are taught to look at woman as just an object for their own pleasure or desire, that gives them automatically the green light in their head to do whatever they want and not look at that woman as somebody on the same level of humanity as them,” freshman Emma Caplinger said.

The effects of catcalling, according to an article by NYU, can be forms of depression and anxiety due to the internalization of the objectification.

“I think it’s really degrading because obviously any human is worth more than just their outside, but every woman I know is so much more than just ‘oh wow she’s hot,’” Caplinger said. “Nobody is asking for a man to call at them or make noises at them, nobody wants to be looked at as anything less than their entire person, so I think it definitely affects people by making them feel like they’re being seen as less than they are. ”

Catcalling does not just occur among a few women though, in fact, according to a survey done by the nonprofit organization Stop Street Harassment, out of the women surveyed, 99 percent had experienced a form of street harassment.

“All the ladies I know that run have definitely experienced this, like my mom, my aunts and a lot of runners in my family. When you think about it, it’s really kind of gross and unsettling to know that this is such a common issue,” Caplinger said.

According to an article by Unicef, the objectification of women is seen everyday in magazines, television and other media sources, which not only lowers self confidence in women, but also furthers harmful gender stereotypes.  

“I think it just comes to down to years and years of it being seen as okay to objectify women, especially in the media,” Caplinger said. “I mean I think we’re moving in a progressive path by noticing that objectification is such a problem, but I think that men in particular have just seen it as okay for so long that it’s just stuck in their mind.”

Although catcalling has been happening for a long time, one thing that everyone can do is help bring awareness to it, so that girl runners can train without being objectified.

“[Catcalling is] important to talk about because I just feel like guy runners don’t realize like how much we actually do get catcalled. Especially after you’ve been running for a while, you stop talking about it because it’s just a fact of the run,” Dickson said. “Our runs shouldn’t be harder just because we are girls.”

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Track and cross country girls face catcalling