I read with amazement that certain unwarranted attentions from men ( only if you are a female of course) Could be deemed a hate crime under new laws.While on the face of it this seems as ridiculous as it sounds, the article from the Guardian Newspaper actually suggested that the old fashioned ‘Wolf Whistle‘ could be included in this statement. A wolf whistle really?
The wolf whistle has been around for as long as I can remember . As shy gawky teenager I can recall being petrified of walking past a building site in case I became the focus of the workers attentions. I would do anything to avoid it crossing the road or changing direction. But then I was a painfully shy teenager (hard to believe I know) and not yet comfortable with my new found sexuality. If the wolf whistles came I would blush to the roots of my red hair and scurry off as fast as my chubby legs would carry me. BUT once passed the group I would inwardly smile with satisfaction. Sometimes any reaction was better than none.
Being something of an ugly duckling: too tall, too fat, too ginger, I was not used to being in the limelight so any male attention fed my under develop sense of worth. So although I found it highly embarrassing in some way it helped me gain some inner confidence. By the time I was eighteen I had learnt how to cope and would strut passed a building site head held high and be mortified if I didn’t get a single heckle. If I did I would smile in their direction or wave and strut on. It was no big deal.
Learning how to cope with male attention is a rite of passage. I’m not suggesting for one minute that men should be given a licence to do and say just what they like. If their behavior descends into the lewd, crude or just damn right rude! then they should be dealt with pronto.
But not with a visit to the police station for fuck’s sake ! This, in my humble opinion is a step way to far to right. It would be an insult to women everywhere to suggest that we are incapable of handling these situations ourselves A few well chosen words accompanied by a withering look that only a women can deliver, can bring a man to his knees (literally) and is far more effective than trading insults or calling for a crime officer.
That said, occasionally you may need to be more shall we say forceful. I was involved in just such an incident recently. A friend of mine was chatting happily to a group of guys in a bar when one of them rather drunker then rest and not included in the conversation lent over looking her up and down and then said very loudly “well aren’t you fat and ugly ?” I can confirm she is neither but that is not the point!. She glared at him and walked away to come and find me. But she was clearly upset,not only by the remark itself but also by the venomous way it had been delivered.
I was outraged! who did this idiot think he was ? He was clearly in possession of a dick the size of a cocktail sausage ! I asked her to point him out but she was very reluctant to do so knowing my gander was up. I insisted and eventually she nodded in his direction.
Full of indignation I marched over to him and asked him why he thought it was ok to insult a complete stranger. He babbled incoherently saying he didn’t mean anything, I said Why say it then ? you fucking idiot! As my voice grew louder I turned to his friends asking “Is he with you ? You should have a word with him about his manners ” They shrugged and said casually “Oh he is always like that” .I replied through gritted teeth “Oh is he now ?“. I was trying to decide what to do next when two girls behind me grabbed my arm and said that he had insulted them as well.
Re-ignited and now feeling annoyed on behalf of all woman- kind I turned back to the twat and said you’d better apologise! By now we had an audience and the bouncer had been summoned. He started mumbling sorry and I am ashamed to say I told him to get on his. knees and say it. He resisted and I insisted and down he went in front of my friend saying sorry several times. Feeling that justice had been served and he had been humiliated enough my friend and I returned to our seats. The bouncer came and escorted him out and had a quiet word. Normal service had been resumed.
I like to think that next time that guy feels like insulting a woman for no reason other than he can! he may have second thoughts but who knows. Of course had he told my friend she had lovely hair or gorgeous eyes it would have been smiles around. BUT would that now be seen as sexual harassment ? I hope not. We need to keep a sense of perspective.
As much as I champion equality for all we must still acknowledge that men and woman are very different sexually. Not only in their physiology but also in their psychology. They are programmed to react spontaneously to the female form. If they see a member of the opposite sex that attracts them their response is immediate. Men are wired by evolution to think about mating opportunities first. Guys also spend huge amounts of their cognitive brain function in the first few minutes of talking to an attractive female trying to impress her. For the most part their responses are out of their control and are founded on an evolutionary driven need to pass in their genes. (And we all now how that happens)
Woman react differently. Their brains are not geared to respond in such an immediate way. A woman will look for other attributes such as kindness and wealth . Yes there is a chemical response but it is much more subtle than the male’s and more controllable. So before we feel insulted by a herd of testosterone filled builders who feel the need to acknowledge our beauty rather publicly we should remember that without the thing that drives them none of us would exist at alł!
I think we should occasionally climb now off our high horses and cut the men in the world some slack. They are not always in full control of their faculties and whilst control can be learned let us at least acknowledge that we are different for a reason. I rather enjoy the differences (cocktail sausages aside) I think a bit of understanding goes a long way.
So next time you get a shout out or a wolf whistle try a smile and a wave. You will be surprised how it gives you back the power and when the day comes AND it will, when you can walk down the street without creating so much as a murmur you may wistfully wish you could hear the sweet endearments of “Hello Darlin” being shouted from the roof tops!