A female college professor photographed running a half-marathon was told online her choice of outfit was the reason ‘joggers get raped’.
Dr Laurah Lukin, a professor at the University of Cincinnati, was photographed wearing standard athletic gear while running the Little Miami half-marathon .
Tagged in the race photo on Facebook, Laurah noticed a shocking remark from a stranger in the comments section.
The user wrote:
That’s because she doesn’t have any damn clothes on and she’s running for her life… No wonder joggers get raped.
This comment immediately angered Laurah who felt compelled to write a defiant blog post titled ‘A Leopard Doesn’t Have To Change Her Spots’ which has now gone viral.
In the post Laurah describes how at first she felt defensive and immediately began to reason with herself her choice of outfit.
Instantly, my brain started rationalising and justifying my race outfit.
‘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.
After all, there were photos from the race of shirtless men, men in short shorts, men in tight shorts; yet he did not feel motivated to comment on their potential for inviting sexual assault.
Laurah also spoke about how this type of comment is a symptom of a culture that tolerates and excuses rape, and more needs to be done to deal with this issue.
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.
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.
For a moment Laurah debated writing a response to a man but realised it would not change his mind, and she is right.
Although the comment has since been reported to Facebook and removed, this action isn’t enough and more needs to be done at the root of the problem: society’s attitude.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.