As I watch documentaries this week. I watched a documentary on Bruce Lee, which included how the United States... the bigotry of white people was rampant on all people of color. I'm old enough to remember when Asians, African-Americans, Hispanics, Indigenous and many other people of color were rarely, if ever given large acting parts in Hollywood.I'm also observant enough to recognize misogyny. Misogyny, hatred towards the female gender.
I saw it, and was subjected to it growing up. It effected and effects education, business, and sports in female lives. Especially, if you were a girl/woman in sports, politics and business during my childhood and many, many millennium before.
Men undermining girls and women who superseded their intelligence as well their self-proclaimed toughness. A significant example would be J. Edgar Hoover taking credit for the codebreaking Elizabeth Smith-Friedman actually did for the United States government covering two World Wars.
As Ms. Smith-Friedman was written up in newspapers when she helped our government put a dent in organized crime in and around 1925-1933. In the papers they wrote not about her intelligence. But her being a woman, her looks. Basically in their reporting, they belittled her hard work, dedication and intelligence that helped breakdown the high level of violence on the streets by organized crime brought mainly by prohibition and post-prohibition era, which effected innocent people.
Fast forward to more recently, I wondered why when I would have interviews by news outlets on some of my early successful days in running. The articles were less than flattering. Especially, the ones where a woman had done the interview. Multiple errors were made in the articles, yet I didn't complain. Friends, colleagues would point out the unfavorable and quite often untruths that were printed about me. Mostly, I ignored it.
Then after a harrowing life threatening event that upended my life as I knew it. And it was made fairly public. It was compared with the sensationalization of that given to the "Central Park Jogger". Which the reporting was off the mark in both cases. I was a National class runner in a 100 mile training running week. It was morning, there was daylight, I didn't wear music on my ears. And I was running not jogging, quite a bit of a difference.
However, fifteen years later, an old time-columnist contacted me. He wanted to write a book about this slice of my life. I initially agreed. I did so with the intention, it would bring attention to our lack of justice for women effected by violent crime. For I was one of the few women who were successful in putting a predator away for more than just a handful of years.
And yes, I wanted blood. As my husband had said about me to a Detective, "She will take no prisoners." And yes, if it were legal and up to me. The predator would be unrecognizable to his own mother if I were allowed to do my will, after the heinous crime committed against me by him. Granted, it wouldn't have given me back the ability to have my own children. Nor would it have replaced my ability to sit focused at my defense contracting job in finance without pain. Nor would it have brought back my ability to qualify for the 1992 Olympic Marathon Trials. Or to run pain free for the next few decades. But I know what satisfies me. I am human, although long-fused I am. Yet I'm certain anyone with half of any amount of gumption, when pushed too far, will take revenge.
So this writer/columnist, white and male and old enough to be my father, thought he could write a book. However, after a six hour interview at my home. I wondered exactly what direction he would take the book in. He had ESPN and people at Sports Illustrated interested in supporting him in putting forth this book.
After about a week after the first six hour interview. With a few phone conversations with the columnist-writer, I'd realized how he wanted to portray me. It was quite unfavorable. To say the least. 'Why, would he take such an approach?' I wondered.
He wanted to make it about my relentlessness. He felt it was highly unusual that I was so vigilant and a stickler for details. And he couldn't comprehend and seem to care that my life was physically altered... Women didn't need to be long-distance runners. So it seemed his thoughts, similar to acquaintances and relatives. Women didn't need to work for a living.
And basically that he couldn't grasp why fifteen years later I wasn't 'over it'.. So, with that I cut off the entire project of his. I did not speak to him again. Yet before that I did tell him why.
Then I realized months later, he felt threatened by such a small, insignificant person of the female persuasion as myself. He could not fathom how anyone, much less a woman could be so driven, strong-willed, angry, yet productive all at the same time and remain married to one man for so long. So to make it fit into his paradigm, he would put me and my story in an unfavorable light. Which in turn would make people feel sorry for the predator. Twisted? Indeed.
So, what influenced this writing today, was how women were written about, interviewed with the ideology of criticisms as opposed to facts. Facts that could right wrongs. Facts that could inspire other girls and women who are less fortunate. Those women and girls who were told it was 'all in their head'. Or that 'rape was only sex'. That when being raped, 'just give in so you don't get hurt '. Or 'boys will be boys'. Yes, just thirty years ago, I was told I couldn't have had that much physical damage by the medical field. Law enforcement treated me fairly, believed me. As well did my husband, my running coach, my dentist, my chiropractor, finally my tenth doctor, 7th orthopedic doctor. But not the medical field as a whole for 18 months. The orthopedic surgeon just happened to be a long distance runner and following the news on the case. Upon my arrival, referred by my chiropractor, I was sent into one of the new orthopedic surgeon's exam rooms. He arrived as I sat on the edge of the exam table. He sat down on his stool. I asked, "Please don't assume anything. I have six sets of x-rays here. Can I tell you who I am?" He looked dumbfounded. He nodded. "At this point I have been protected by the Solomon Bond. It's for victims of violent crimes..." As I spoke He nearly fell off his stool. And he said, "You're that runner... I'm so so sorry." I think I just wrecked his day back then. His wife also a runner, it hit home.
We little women, must maintain the fight. Its never over. And No, I won't get over IT.---Jody-Lynn Reicher
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