When Laurah Lukin, a US marathon runner and professor of medical education, found herself the target of a repulsive social media comment about her attire, her first impulse was to write an angry response.
Lukin, a mother of one from Ohio, ran the 2017 Little Miami Half Marathon on 13 August and was tagged in a race photo on the event's Facebook page. But then she was shocked by the comments posted about her race attire.
"That's because she doesn't have any damn clothes on and she's running for her life," a commentator, Dave Alzayer, wrote.
"No wonder joggers get raped," Alzayer said in another comment.
Lukin decided that the issue was not about tit-for-tat social media comments but needed to be addressed at a deeper level.
She wrote in her blog how she felt when she read the ugly comments: "Instantly, my brain started rationalizing 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," Lukin continued. "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."
Lukin, who is a Ph.D., a runner, coach and assistant dean and professor of medical education at the University of Cincinnati, said she was distressed by the comments.
She wrote in her blog, "But the truth is, such statements do not decrease the incidence of rape or make women more 'safe'. These statements only provide rapists what they're looking for: an excuse for violence. And while this man may believe his comments qualify as a lesson in how to behave, it only propagates an ignorant, dangerous agenda and further justifies this hateful and disturbing behavior."
Lukin told 9Honey website that she would like to encourage women to speak out about such comments.
"Ignoring comments like the ones made about my race attire propagates a culture of passivity and tolerance, which allows this type of violence to persist.
"I sat through college orientations that provided detailed instructions about how to stay safe as a young woman on campus, but never told young men how not to rape," Lukin said.
She added that she does not want her "daughter to grow up in a society that normalises behaviours like victim blaming, sexual objectification, and the trivialisation of sexual assault."
Lukin posted the link to her blog on her Facebook page along with as screenshot of the offending comments. The blog and post have attracted comments from many users who have lauded her write-up, and they have also been reported extensively by the media.