By Sara Alcid, DC Resident and Contributing Writer, Everyday Feminism
The admiration and respect that I have for the 15,000 women that ran in the Nike Women’s Half Marathon held in DC this past weekend is immeasurable. I was on the sidelines cheering on my best friend’s mom and aunt as they crossed the finish line arm in arm. But on my way to see them at the finish line, I passed by a fleet of fraternity brothers cheering on runners with “You Look Beautiful All Sweaty,” “Hello Gorgeous,” and “Cute Running Shoes” signs. I had to do a double-take.
I was appalled and outraged that the athletic endurance and personal triumph of the 15,000 women runners were being trivialized by these objectifying and sexist signs.
It turns out the signs are part of BareMinerals by Bare Escentuals’ “Go Bare” campaign and tour.
A few of the fraternity brothers noticed my shocked look and held up large posters with their phone numbers written on them. The cherry on top, really.
Running a half marathon is an empowering act of strength and motivation and has absolutely nothing to do with how you look, including how “beautiful” a group of random fraternity brothers on the sidelines think you look when you’re “all sweaty.” Women do not run for male approval of their sweatiness.
It’s hard enough for women to feel safe, secure and comfortable running in their own neighborhoods to train for half marathons in the first place. Street harassment is a real and scary part of many women’s daily runs, as well as their commutes to work and trips to the grocery store. Much of the street harassment that we experience is centered around our looks, especially men’s opinions of them. Women’s bodies are the subjects of public commentary and conversations—both in the media and on the street.
The “Go Bare” campaign signs, held by Bare Escentuals’ very own team of “DC fraternity boys” (their phrasing, not mine) are tools of street harassment.
They’re simply sugarcoating and romanticizing the street harassment with pretty, professionally printed signs and free makeup at the finish line.
Would we see these signs at a men’s half marathon? No.
Along with trivializing the runners’ admirable strength and drive, these signs represent a gateway to sexual harassment and assault, like all street harassment does.
Because when men publicly provide commentary on women’s bodies and beauty—and when it is so publicly condoned, like it was at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, street harassment is normalized and women’s bodies become invitations for unwanted judgment and non-consensual interaction.
“Street harassment — both in DC and elsewhere — is a serious and pervasive problem that limits women’s mobility and access to public spaces,” said Renee Davidson, Communications Director of Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), a grassroots group working to prevent sexual harassment and assault in DC. “Our website collects local stories of street harassment, and we regularly hear from women that they are afraid to run or exercise outdoors as a result of the leering and catcalling they receive from strangers. Public sexual harassment is part of a larger rape culture; it occurs on a continuum and can lead to more violent crimes like rape and assault. BareMinerals needs to know that while sexual harassment has always been deemed an inconvenience, it’s also a crime, and it needs to be given zero tolerance rather than exploited as a marketing tool to sell makeup.”
Street harassment is never okay and the last thing we need is sugarcoated and corporate-sponsored street harassment.
Let BareMinerals know you won’t stand for street harassment by following up with a Tweet. Copy and paste:
Dear @bareMinerals: Women didn’t run the @runnikewomen marathon 2b objectified & leered at by random men http://chn.ge/12VqjIp #GoBare