This week police in Iowa found the body of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts. She was murdered by a man who followed her while she was out for a run.
Mollie Tibbetts was my age. She looked like me. She had long brown hair like me. She was in college like me. She liked to go running like me. She was out on a run when a man followed her. Something that has also happened to me, albeit with a much different outcome than what happened to Mollie. Mollie’s murder proves that the world was not made for us. No woman is safe, especially not minority women or queer women.
In 2017 the Boston Globe wrote an article entitled “The real dangers of running while female.” It cited a survey from Runner’s World wherein 54% of women runners said the threat of being “physically assaulted or receiv[ing] unwanted physical contact during a run” was present on their minds, compared to 7% of male respondents. Female runners on Twitter have been sharing harrowing threads of being harassed while running. But this is not a threat faced solely by female runners.
Every single woman I know has a story that could’ve escalated into what happened to Mollie. Sexual harassment and catcalling are seen as tame when we’re up against such dangerous odds, but how are we to know that the man yelling at us on the street isn’t going to follow us and do what was done to Mollie?
Some people are trying to make her murder into an immigration issue because she was killed by an undocumented man. But it’s not an immigration issue; it’s a gender inequality issue. It’s a “women aren’t safe going about our daily lives” issue.
The answer to who is after Mollie Tibbetts is every man and every woman.