Today in Rape Culture

by Shaker Myn

[Content Note: Rape culture.]

One could probably guess from the event name that the Skirt Chaser 5k this Saturday in Denver is going to be problematic. But the description emailed to potential runners, available online here, outlines how appalling it really is: The premise of the race is that the women start ahead of the men, the men "wait in anticipation for three LONG minutes", and then the women are chased down over the course of 3 miles.
A Skirt Chaser. Literally. Women start first, while men wait in anticipation for three LONG minutes. Once the men FINALLY start the chase is really on! What happens next is just over 3 miles of anticipation: Will the gals be caught? Will the guys get the thrill of not only the chase but also the win?
The race is described as fun and flirty, rather than as a terrifying reenactment of street harassment and the threat of sexual assault or rape. I suppose this shows that the race organizers and I have a difference of opinion.

Of course, the whole thing is put on by a company that sells running skirts, and the primary purpose of running skirts seems to be maintaining as feminine a gender presentation as possible while doing sports. You know, the same sports where how you look is not supposed to matter as much as what you can do.

There are a lot of ways to make running events stand out as unique, such as costumes or obstacles or various themes. One could imagine putting on a race, even one that aims to sell running skirts, that celebrates women and encourages them to feel strong and free. Why would anyone instead choose to uphold the idea that this kind of harassment is tolerable, normal, even "fun"?

teaspoon icon If you find this race as appalling as I do, I would strongly suggest donating to the Women's Sports Foundation, who create many opportunities for women and girls to enjoy sports free from gender-based oppression.

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