It’s referred to as Globalization: the concept where the world seems like it is a lot smaller than it really is. Today’s world is more accessible now than any other time period to date; reason being is that we are in the age of the Internet. All it takes is an idea and a click to become a part of the cyber world.
Erin Bailey set the Internet ablaze two weeks ago with a viral article discussing the unwanted catcalling and harassment she had been receiving while exercising. Erin is a fitness professional living in Boston, MA, and her article titled “What Do We Deserve?” captured an audience of over 300,000 in just a matter of hours. By the end of the day, the piece finished with more than 500,000 views. Erin had struck a nerve in the nation with her words.
Because the concept of going viral may seem appealing to most, I was curious to know how it was received by Erin.”I was honestly shocked. I wouldn’t have made it through the past two weeks without my sister, roommate and parents because they totally kept me sane. The pageview numbers were jumping so quickly it was comical. My sister and I kept texting and chatting through it being like, “125k people read what I said. Oh my god, it just hit 500k,” like, that number is so astronomical for me I just kept pinching myself!”
The basis of her article has been a controversial, yet diluted down conversation that society tended to bat their eyes at. I asked Erin if she expected to get the reactions that she did. Humbly, she relayed that she didn’t expect it to go viral. In her opinion, it was more of a “right place, right time” situation.
“I was passionate/pissed off about what was going on and I voiced my opinion, it just happened to be somewhat of a hot topic and a lot of people felt the same way I did which is what made it catch on.”
Bailey said that the feedback was pretty overwhelming during its takeoff stage. Most of it was “largely positive,” but she did bring up the fact that there were negative haters commenting on the page.
“Right off the bat I had a “troll” on my comments section and I freaked out. I had never had someone speak so negatively to me. It quickly became hundreds of people speaking really negatively directly to me, which made me have to develop a thick skin pretty quickly.”
The Internet can build you up in a burst, but it’s just as easy for outsiders to hide behind their screens and demean you through a keyboard. I commended Erin on her strength to block out the negative opinions. It just goes to show that people will do anything to undermine the positive contributions of others when the spotlight isn’t always on them.
“You just have to realize on one hand, there will always be people with different opinions than you, and on the other, the beauty and curse of the internet is that it gives everyone a voice and some of those people just want to be mean and rude and will say anything to bring you down. You just can’t let them.”
Many supporters of the agenda on the blog page not only realized the uncanny disdain being sent Erin’s way, but they were very quick to praise her for speaking out on a topic like this. It was “insanely positive” per Erin.
She mentioned readers by the hundreds were reaching out and directly thanking her for her rhetoric. Some felt so comfortable and understood that they ended up sharing their own experiences with Bailey.”
Men were apologizing; fathers were sharing it with their sons – it was amazing. It became a conversation and that’s so wonderful,” Erin told me. With my firsthand account, and being friends with Erin on Facebook, I watched as different media outlets picked up the story and interviewed her. Companies like Huffington, Time, and SELF were itching to cover a story like this.
What sparked all of this for Erin was when she read the rhetoric the media used while writing about some recent murders of female runners. They made is sound as if it were because they were female and enjoyed exercising, that it was somehow their fault they ended up getting killed.
“The media and public reaction expressing that in some way it was their fault and women shouldn’t run outside to protect themselves… I was peeved. It just wasn’t the issue and I wanted to express that.”
After her article, America seemed to be more awake to the realities of catcalling and harassment. I presented Erin with my next question: what is your follow up plan? I could tell she had received this question a lot when she said, “Ah, the million dollar question.” Bailey explained that she will always be a feminist but battling street harassment is not her platform.
“My goal is to empower women through fitness; help them gain confidence and strength so that they feel as bad-ass as they are.”
Bailey believes that after all of this, she’s learned that there is “so much more good in this world than bad.” With over 1800 comments on the article alone, she said that for every negative comment she received, there were at least 2 others countering their views.”You will always get push-back for your ideas, especially if controversial, but speak out, it makes a difference. You have a voice and you aren’t alone!”
She noted that street harassment is a human issue. Her message to women is to be strong and confident. “Continue pushing the envelope and doing what we love.”
And for the men?” And men need to be brave and do the right thing. Educate their peers. Stop their peers when they’re speaking rudely about women or to women.” Bailey highlights that women are stronger together rather than alone, and reinforces the concept of being brave and confident.
“Do what you love and do it often. Because if we stop running outside, what’s next? We have come so far, women before us have fought so hard for us to be treated as equals; the second we stop, we take a step back. The best things lie outside your comfort zone, so get a little uncomfortable! Change is tough, but regret is worse.”
Erin can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can follow Erin and her fitness expertise at: http://www.ebaileyfitness.com
Instagram: @ebailey_fitnessFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/ebaileyfitness/?fref=ts
Photo credit: Jenny Moloney Photography