Saturday, November 12, 2016

Stop it.

Karina Vetrano. Vanessa Marcotte.  Ally Brueger.  Do you know these names?

They were all young women who were killed between July 30 and August 7 of this year while out running in broad daylight near theirs or relative's homes. They were murdered in different states. None of their killers have been found.
Ally Brueger.  She ran 10 miles a day.  She was shot in the back. Police say she may have known her killer.
This, sadly, is not really noteworthy.  If you start researching, you will find many more of these stories.  Sherry Arnold. Sarah Hart (she was pregnant). Melissa Millan. Lauren Bump. Judith Milan. If you keep looking, more and more names surface. Melissa Millan's case is still unsolved.  And Sherri Papini vanished on November 2 while running in California and has yet to be found.
Vanessa Marcotte.  She was a Google employee who was killed a half mile from her mother's house.  Her killer tried to burn the body. All photos in this post were obtained from news sites.
You would think people would be united in outrage and sadness at the deaths of these women.  Probably most are, and yet, when you visit news sites with their stories, the victim blaming begins immediately.

"Women shouldn't run alone," commenters, mostly men, proclaim.  Others declare that we should carry unwieldy knives or guns. We shouldn't wear ponytails either, they say, because an attacker could grab our hair.  Several indicate that Karina Vetrano brought it on herself because she wrote blog entries with selfies, so was obviously an "attention seeker." One man types that she shouldn't have worn "tight clothes" while running.  These people seem to be saying that this woman, who fought her attacker so ferociously that her teeth were knocked out and her neck nearly broken, caused her horrible death by wearing shorts and by posting pictures of herself.
This is a still from a surveillance camera video that captured Karina Vetrano in the last moments of her life.
No.

Are we, as women, supposed to be relegated to running in packs, sticking to the treadmill, wearing baggy sweats (as if this matters to a predator) or not venturing outside alone? Isn't saying this implying that, well, men will always prey on women, we can't change that, in fact we accept it, so women just need to change their behavior?

To begin with, we need to stop blaming the victim. It feels like they are being blamed, in part, for being female. When Joe Keller, a good looking teenager, vanished during a solo run in Colorado, abduction became a theory. I read many accounts of his story, wanting him to be found. Despite Joe being a young, attractive male running in only a pair of shorts, I couldn't find a single commenter who stated that he shouldn't have run alone, or should have had more clothes on (Joe was eventually found, a victim of an accidental fall from a cliff).

I've been a runner for years.  Being on my university cross country team, and then having to run in lockstep with other people on fire crews for "group PT," I appreciate running alone.  You can run the pace you want. There's no need for small talk. You can think your own thoughts.

Of course, everyone needs to be sensible, women and men. We have a term in firefighting, Situational Awareness. It means to always consider your surroundings, not only what is happening now but what might happen in the future. Don't zone out. I don't wear ear buds, because I want to hear what's going on around me. If I see sketchy people or cars, I turn around. I've been known to sprint to get away from something or someone that looked odd.

I don't know how to fix what's happening. I don't know how to stop men from preying on women. But to blame Karina and the others for their deaths is terribly wrong. It needs to stop.
Karina Vetrano. She was a world traveler and had a masters degree in speech pathology.



20 comments:

  1. Yes, yes and yes!!! Great post! I too am so sick of everyone blaming the victim. A young lady hiker vanished in the Columbia River Gorge several days ago and of course this brought out all the comments that "women shouldn't hike alone." Funny you never hear people saying that about male hikers.

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    1. Yes, they aren't saying it about the PCT hiker who is missing. That must be Annie Schmidt you're talking about. Sounds like she fell. Sad.

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  2. I don't have words to add to the ones you have given. Grief, outrage at the "boxes" women are put into...and hard to see how it gets better. Thank you for posting...

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    1. Karina kind of haunts me, maybe because I've read the most about her case.

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  3. YES. I used to run alone, but haven't for several years as I'm just too creeped out by the early-morning darkness and whoever might be wanting to harm me; I either run with a friend, or not at all. It stinks, but for me, it's necessary. Those poor women.

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    1. I can't imagine how horrifying it must have been for them.

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  4. So much yes! This is the same as people who blame women for getting raped because they wore short shirts...

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  5. victim blaming (of women) is still a real problem here too - there was something in our news - a survey of some sort - a couple of weeks ago that said that 43% of women (in melbourne) were afraid to go out alone after dark.

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    1. That's sad. It's been so long since I was in Australia but it seemed like such a safe place. But it seemed safer over here back then too I guess.

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  6. It's such a sad state of affairs when we can't go out by ourselves without being at risk.

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    1. Yes. I fear it won't get better. These stories are becoming so common.

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  7. What an amazing post!!!!! So very true!!!!

    I worry about running alone but I run so slow that it is hard to find someone that runs my pace and can run when I can run! (That said I know my boyfriend freaks out about me running alone...and I think that's why he is taking up running!)

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    1. I try not to worry but I don't stay in a routine, going the same place, same time, etc. It's good that Jason wants to run with you!

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  8. I agree 100%. And you are right, the world operates on the assumption that men will always prey on women, so women need to change their behavior and take responsibility for men's actions. What bullshit. I never see comments like "Men shouldn't be out alone, since they can't be trusted to not attack women", and people would find that outrageous and silly to even say, but everyone is quick to point out if a woman was running alone, in the early morning, in anything except head to toe coverings, etc. Nothing will change as long as that absurd attitude doesn't change.

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  9. This post is so true. In india there have been many unfortunate incidents of rapes. It's so sad!
    And, they say that it's the girls fault!
    Seriously, I wish people can stop blaming women for such things!

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    1. That's terrible. I would hope that all of the good men out there are as outraged about this as women are.

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  10. These stories are tragic and it's just awful when people say women are "asking" to kidnapped, abused, raped, murdered. It's sick. At what point are we supposed to stop living our lives in the name of avoiding trouble?

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    1. I know. I keep thinking about Karina. I really hate that this happens.

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