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Opinion: Running The Risk

Posted January 14, 2013 by Siún Ní Dhuinn in Lifestyle
Running in Pink

It’s rare enough that I forget about the gender divide which pervades almost every area of my life.  As a fashion and beauty blogger, I tend to wear make-up everyday, I like bright colours and I’m a fan of a high heel, I am in turn, defined as a ‘girly girl’. Like it or not. I also drink pints of Guinness, which throws the whole ‘girly girl’ definition into disarray and causes many a raised eyebrow, but that’s for another day…

Colliding gender spaces often cultivate questions and sport is one of them. When I took up running, I joined a female-only running club, for several reasons. I wanted to feel entirely comfortable learning to run, and a female environment felt more natural to me. I wasn’t interested in competitive running, and felt that by joining this club which was for fitness there would be no element of competition amongst women who were ‘in the same boat’.

I’ve spent the last year stomping the roads with a running group, and have really gotten to love it. I was asked to contribute a ‘Running Wishlist’ to Run With Tina’s blog just before the festive season kicked off. As my running wardrobe consists of old baggy t-shirts, black leggings and a black jackets, I went a bit mad picking patterned leggings, neon runners, and an Aztec print sports bag, things I’d love to have, but don’t.. yet!

There were two responses from men. Both asked if I didn’t think that it was patronizing to women to have pink running clothes.

The blog post went live, and I got some responses, most people enjoyed the somewhat directional pieces I had picked. Among the feedback, were two responses from men. Both of which asked similar questions, namely, did I not think that it was patronizing to women to have pink/patterned running clothes, and in essence, that my choices were too gender specific.

I hadn’t really sat down and thought about the gender divide within sport, especially in this, a pastime. I certainly had never considered any of my choices to be patronizing, to either gender. I’ve always had a penchant for a bit of brightly coloured clothes, and this has obviously pervaded my running choices as well as my regular wardrobe.

As a result of the reactions, I began to think about my femininity and how it is expressed, even in running, which I thought was safe from such gender questions. Colours and what they symbolize are powerful in semiotic terms and by choosing bright colours, I had muddied the separate gender spaces, it seemed. I had brought a little too much of myself into a male space, where I didn’t fit in.

On reflection, I realise my femininity is inherent and I don’t think I’m any less of a runner by conveying that through my pink hat or my neon runners. However, the responses illustrate that the gender spheres, while seemingly becoming more of a shared locale, still exist autonomously, in certain realms.

Featured Image ©2011 Walker used under a Creative Commons licence.

About the Author

Siún Ní Dhuinn

  • http://twitter.com/nuckpang Stephen R.

    I could understand if people were complaining that all the running gear available for women was either pink or floral patterned, but complaining when someone just feels like wearing pink gear? Urgh. *Head-desk*

  • http://www.ramp.ie/ Lisa McInerney

    You know, I think there’s almost an element of “catching women out” for displaying any traditionally feminine traits if they’ve ever shown even the slightest feminist leaning.

    Oh, you fancy Ryan Gosling? Now who’s objectifying? Oh, you said you were pleased that dude held the door open? What happened to being independent? Oh, you’re wearing pink? WHERE ARE YOUR PRINCIPLES NOW?

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