I didn’t have a lot to say about the awful news of Sarah Everard’s murder. Like so many I felt sick about it. About the loss of a beautiful young soul and her poor family.
I also felt sick about the number of others who did not get home, about people speaking out to say they to had experienced unwanted attention, violence, assault. They too had felt unsafe on the streets, had taken precautions or changed plans in order to keep themselves safe.
I didn’t have a lot to say. I went running.
When our Covid status allows I run with a group, when parenting demands allow I run with my husband, when my kids are keen I run with them – but I also run alone. All through winter when I was homeschooling our children and my husband was working a night shift I would do my days parenting/schooling, feed everyone, and on every second evening I would wake Jon up at 5pm, tell him dinner was ready and go out the door. Rain, hail or snow – I was out the door for a good hour – it was my sanity.
The streets were quiet, often slippery with ice and January in Scotland 5pm equals dark. For me that time alone a few days a week was my sane time. It helped me balance out the constant stream of mum demands, gave me time to think, and a hit of endorphins.
It is March now and the kids are back at school, I can run during the day. I can get off the streets and take advantage of greenspaces we are so lucky to have in this city. Paths along the Water of Leith, paths up and around the seven hills, through parks, along the Canal – they are good for my lungs and my soul.
Spring has sprung and the weather is getting warmer. I am delighted to shed my winter running layers and get some sun on my skin.
Which brings me to the other thing I was feeling sick about in the aftermath of Sarah Everards death. The narrative about women not being safe on the streets.
I don’t choose that narrative. I know it exists. But I don’t choose it. I feel like for every well meaning taxi company offering free rides home for women, for every headline about women not being safe, the fear ripples out, people stay home and we get a little less safe.
I get it. I know that it’s not always a choice. That some people are hyper-vigilant because that choice has been stolen from them. I’ve had moments of hyper-vigilance myself.
But I will keep putting my shoes on. That’s my silent vigil. My resistance.
I was thinking about these things on my run on Friday afternoon. Running along the Union Canal in the thin sunshine. Feeling strong, feeling happy to be moving. To have air and a little sun on my skin. Feeling sad that Sarah Everard was not.
Then I ran past three men having a catch up and heard one of them:
‘Sun’s Out, Guns Out, Fun’s Out.’
It was without a doubt an observation of me. Running in my skort and vest top. Yup, the guns were out. Yup, I was running in clothes that showed the ‘fun’. Did it need an observation? No.Tweet
Did he need to direct his friends attention towards me? No. Did I say anything? No. I kept running. Did his friends smirk? Or did they suggest that this was an unnecessary thing to say? I don’t know. I like to think that perhaps one of the three had enough guts to to have a real conversation.
I don’t know, I kept running.
And thinking about writing some of the words that had been swirling around in my head.
When I got home from my 10k run I did something I don’t usually do – took a full body selfie to add to this blog. That in itself is a political act – putting a sweaty, not very flattering photo out into the world. So here I am putting my words and body into the conversation. My arms and legs and breasts are in the conversation. They are not going anywhere. We need real conversations. With ourselves, with husbands, sons and daughters and friends. We also need to be out running, walking, taking up space in politics, on the streets, in the police force.