Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Showing posts with label James Thurber. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Thurber. Show all posts

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Wolf Whistles

Dear You,
how do you feel about wolf whistles?
I ask  because I found this funny passage in the hilarious book of India Knight, 'Mutton. Age before Beauty. Maybe.' The book's heroine, aged 46, walks by a scaffolding with builders - and nothing happens. Not one odd catcall comes. She muses:

"Oh, I know. I spent many decades of my life objecting vigorously to objectification. I could bore for England about the theory. Ew, everyday sexism: the horror. Obviously men shouldn't shout things out at women in the street. It's not nice. But I'll tell you what else I don't find nice either, to be absolutely honest with you: this weird silence. What is wrong with these freaks?" 

I have nothing against wolf whistles. Never had. Take them as a compliment. When I walk past a building site, and they whistle, the pack sits in a pit, or on a high scaffolding. To me it is only a rough way of flirting.
I once told you: I am a flirt and will stay so till I'm a hundred (or more?). I flirt with men, children, cats and even flowers (yes, you can - try it!) It is a very pleasant game, for both sides.
But some women find it upsetting.
For men these times are difficult. In the last decades they get what psychology calls "double-bind messages". Or, reversing my beloved quote from Shirley Conran - "A mother's place is in the wrong" - to "A man's place is in the wrong." Don't misunderstand me, please: I'm speaking of wolf whistles. Bravado. Flirts. Not pawing or violence.
I enjoy it when a man holds a door open for me - I do not cry angrily 'I can do that on my own!' (as I have often seen). I like knights in shining armour. Politeness. (In other parts of life too). Though one can go too far: Today I read that the BBC makes Britain discuss whether one should ask a woman before kissing her. Uh, what??? I think that goes without saying - let alone asking. You feel it. (I hope). What said my driving instructor about entering a dubious turn in the road in high speed? "When in doubt - don't." 
In the blog world there are wolf whistles too. Don't think I put comment moderation up against those. 
No - I have a very persistent "Anonymous", who always sends advertising comments disguised as comments on the post "Arsène Lupin, Raffles and..." 
Now I ask you: Who in his right mind can believe that this will lure me on his website? Anonymous might also easily believe that Little Girls, wearing a Red Riding Hood, will take a woolf for a grandma. (Tom, here might be the appropriate place for a Grandma-axe-pun). 
No, I keep it with James Thurber, who recast the story, ending: 

When the little girl opened the door of her grandmother's house she saw that there was somebody in bed with a nightcap and nightgown on. She had approached no nearer than twenty-five feet from the bed when she saw that it was not her grandmother but the wolf, for even in a nightcap a wolf does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge. So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.

Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.