When a runner was tagged in a proud Facebook photo from a half-marathon she took part in recently, she was shocked to see one particular comment appear among the posts of praise and congratulations.
What stunned Laurah Lukin, a runner, blogger, and assistant dean at the University of Cincinnati, was how the one commenter felt justified in perpetuating the idea that certain clothing invites rape.
“That’s because she doesn’t have any damn clothes on and she’s running for her life… No wonder joggers get raped,” the comment read.
Initially, the mom of one admitted that she had felt defensive.
“It was a race! They are competition briefs! They make me cool and faster! My legs move more freely! They’re funny… Then I paused. I was immediately disappointed that my gut reaction to this man’s horrific comments was to defend my wardrobe choice,” she wrote on her blog.
“As a woman and as a mother, however, I feel strongly that this behavior cannot go unaddressed. I do not want these comments to simply be reported to Facebook (which they have been by the photographer) or deleted from the photo comments (which they were by the photographer). While such actions are indeed appropriate, it does not address or help change the global and persistent cultural assumption that rape is preventable if a female would simply behave or dress a certain way.”
Lukin then decided to approach the comment in a more critical way. She wrote an open letter to women, fathers, and young girls and boys worldwide, discussing how the way someone is treated should not be directly related to how they dress.
“It is not my responsibility to choose a race outfit or workout apparel to deter the temptation of men. The length of my shorts is not an indication of interest, invitation or consent. Rape and sexual assault are crimes of violence and control that stem from a person’s determination to exercise power over another. It is an appalling crime with devastating effect on victims, and those close to them. Nobody asks to be raped,” she wrote.
With these sexist and alarming comments becoming more common, Lukin hopes her post provides some support to women across the internet who see these remarks almost daily.
Lukin also wrote an opinion piece for Runner’s World where she outlined the importance of building a society where victim blaming does not exist.
When asked whether the man who posted the initial comment responded to her blog post, she admitted he has.
“He continues to refer to me online as a frail, oversensitive ‘snowflake,’ and mock the seriousness of rape culture. … And while this man may believe his comments qualify as a lesson in how to dress if you want to avoid rape, it only propagates an ignorant, dangerous belief surrounding rape culture,” she told Runner’s World.
While she acknowledges that her one post won’t change the way society perceives women, she feels optimistic that the responses to her post are promoting the importance of speaking up for what feels right.
“I hope that by speaking out, others will be encouraged to speak out as well and help change that culture, because with enough snowflakes, you can cause an avalanche that transforms the landscape.”
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