sam cleasby blogger writer self esteem body image womens health and happiness

Wolf whistling is FINE! Right fellas?

These women who get pissed off about men wolf whistling need to wind their necks in, right? I mean, it’s just boys being boys!

Women should appreciate that men find them attractive! They should know it’s all a bit of fun, no harm done.

Guys, when you and your drunk buddies whistle, jeer and shout sexual comments at me as I stand alone on a train platform, I should enjoy it, shouldn’t I?

Only I actually feel threatened, scared and I decide to not get on your train and wait for the next one because a group of loud, drunk men make me fearful when they’re shouting at me to “get my tits out for the lads”.

When you and your builder colleagues whistle and call out to the woman as she walks past the building site, she should understand that it’s only a bit of fun.

Only it makes her self conscious and embarrassed. She pulls her coat a bit tighter, looks straight ahead and walks a little faster to just get past.

When you and your school pals talk loudly about the size of a girls tits as she is in ear shot, she should enjoy the attention, right?

Only when that’s your little sister, it makes her feel objectified and sexualised. And she’s in a fucking school uniform.

When you are in the office and stand just that little too close, you make a suggestive comment and a risqué joke to your female colleague, she should take it as a laugh, shouldn’t she!

Only when it’s your sister, it makes her  feel disrespected, angry and demoralised.

When you call out to a woman as you both walk alone at night, she should know you’re only being friendly.

Only when that’s your mum, she feels nervous and walks faster, head down, just hoping to get home safe.

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It’s easy to assume that those who call out the wolf whistlers, the jeerers, the men who stand a little too close and who cross the line, that those people are over reacting.  It’s all bants mate!!! There’s no harm done is there?  Yet the reality is that this sort of behaviour is at best unsettling, at worst scary, upsetting  and bloody annoying.

I’m a confident person yet in the past few weeks have had all of these events either happen to me or someone close to me and both myself and the other people were upset and angry that we’d been subjected to it.

I know this isn’t all men. Most men are respectful and kind and lovely… But it is some men and the fact this happens in our day and age sucks.  The defence is always that women should see it as a compliment. Or a joke. Or being friendly. That we should get a sense of humour. Or stop being so sensitive. Or my all time fave internet comment, that I’m just a feminist dyke… (Hooray for all the feminist dykes!)

But it does still shock me. And yes, as I stood on a platform at 10.30pm after a day’s work, a train filled with drunken shouting men, whistling, calling out to me and chanting, scared me.  I made the decision to stand alone and wait for the next one.  I’m a loud, bolshy woman, yet I felt I couldn’t even meet the eyes of these men in case it provoked them further.

I’m not trying to be dramatic. And I’m aware that they were probably all nice fathers, brothers, colleagues. Perhaps they just didn’t think it would bother me? Maybe they weren’t thinking.  Perhaps alcohol was involved and it made them act in a different way to how they usually would.  I wonder who they are, as I don’t see it in the men I know, I don’t see my husband or friends wolf whistling and voicing their opinion on other peoples’ tits.

I felt powerless at that point but now safe at home, I know my power is in the written word. Maybe they’ll read this and think again next time. Perhaps the builder, the school boy, the colleague, the man on the train, the man walking home late, perhaps they can look and see their wife, sister, daughter, mother and understand that their words and actions may be affecting that person more than they think.

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There are those that will undoubtably shout that it’s Political Correctness gone mad.  Who will say you can’t ever smile at a woman without being called a misogynist. Who will say that men can’t chat a woman up these days.  To you, I would say that my opinion is all about context. Of course it’s nice for strangers to smile! It’s nice to chat to people on the bus or at work. It’s great to joke with people you know are on your wave length. This is not about human kindness or even people being attracted and making conversation in the hope of letting someone know you are into them!

In my opinion, it’s about power.  The men on the train weren’t hoping to chat to me about myself. Unless you count their interest in my breasts. The builder isn’t hoping I stop and ask his opinion on current news. The man on the desolate dark street may well be friendly, but should be aware that it can be quite scary to be approached by a stranger at night.

Context and common sense is key.

And for those who will say that sometimes some women are sexually aggressive towards men, I would agree and say that too is wrong.

As I speak to my female friends, every single one had a story of feeling afraid, embarrassed or self conscious because of the actions and words of a man unknown to them.  Even more worrying though, every one had a story of being flashed, approached or having some interaction with a man who had being openly lewd and sexual. Seriously, every one. That’s scary.

When I was a kid, probably around 9 or 10, I was at a friends. As we skated up and down her road in our roller boots, the phone box rang. And it kept ringing every time we went past. Eventually we answered, I was secretly hoping that it would be the beginnings of an Enid Blyton style mystery. It wasn’t. It was a man, he was silly and made jokes. At first we were scared, then we were giggling away. He asked what I was wearing and I told him I was dressed as She-Ra. (I bloody loved She-Ra). He replied and said I was a liar and described my clothes. It was then we realised he was watching us and we skated away home to my friends home, terrified and crying.

That’s an awful story isn’t it. Yet I know Im not alone.

This has happened for a long time. It happened when I was a kid, a teen and it happens now. I just hope it’s something that will change so my daughter isn’t dealing with the same issues.

I don’t think that every builder who wolf whistles is a sexual predator waiting to pounce. But I do think it’s time for a change, time we stood up and explained how this behaviour makes some women feel.

And that’s why I support the Everyday Sexism project. Head over and check it out now.  They “catalogue instances of sexism experienced by women on a day to day basis. They might be serious or minor, outrageously offensive or so niggling and normalised that you don’t even feel able to protest.  By sharing your story you’re showing the world that sexism does exist, it is faced by women everyday and it is a valid problem to discuss.”

Sam xxx

3 replies
  1. Mrs TeePot
    Mrs TeePot says:

    It makes me feel so very threatened when men do this, it honestly terrifies me. I hope that this post, and the work that others are doing, can change this attitude that it’s ‘all good fun’

    Reply
  2. Jacq
    Jacq says:

    Also by saying ‘you should be flattered ‘ by ‘positive’ attention, there is always the inference that you should feel grateful that the man involved finds you attractive.
    Because that’s why women are put on this earth, of course…
    I’m fat, so the unwanted attention I get is usually not so ‘friendly’. It makes me furious because my body is my business, and no one else’s and sometimes I’m actually scared..

    Reply
  3. Donald
    Donald says:

    I read your story and I agree men are jerks insensitive and most of them abusers For some unknown reason I’m deferent I appreciate looking at beautiful and I do engage with them by talking and most of the time women like talking to me we talk about anything like the weather or the price of clothes and if I find something that I like about the person like a beautiful necklace I will tell them in a respectful way and they are usually please that I’ve notice I hope that some guys will read. This post and realize that being respectful and polite and yes sensitive will bring you a lot more women around you and women like talking give them the opportunity to let them tell you .
    For those women that are being abuse by men when walking on the side walk when you get that opportunity that your with other friends and don’t feel threaten PLEASE TELL THAT GUY HES BEING A JURK AND IF WOULD RESPECT YOU AND SHOW SOME SENSIVITY YOU WOULD ENGAGE IN A MEANFULL CONVERSATION .
    Thanks to all the women out there that have given the opportunety. To have a pleasant conversation ..And to the guys reading this shame on you for hurting the feeling of women grow up and start being sensitive about what you say.
    Thank you Sam for posting this hopefully it will make those jerks out there that is not working for them .

    Reply

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