In parts of the U.K. wolf-whistling is now a "hate-crime" in the police lexicon.
We haven't gone quite that far in the U.S.–although some feminists, such as this Jezebel writer, doesn't think it's such a bad idea:
Cat-calling is not flattering, or harmless. It deeply affects victims, and creates an overall atmosphere in which a woman is an object at which to gawk, about which to fantasize, and not a human being
But now, some British women have realized that there's something worse than being wolf-whistled at: Not being wolf-whistled at.
Such as 71-year-old Eve Pollard, veteran journalist and former Sunday Mirror editor:
"Of course, like most women over 50 I know, I am invisible….
"I know that no man is ever going to wolf-whistle at me or stare moodily at me with a hint of lust again. Yes, you can be a feminist and secretly enjoy that."
When I was young, I suffered from all the usual afflictions — naivety, arrogance, vegetarianism, sixth-form socialism, a liking for cider and bad poetry.
I was, I’m ashamed to say, a walking, talking cliche.
But the thing I regret the most was my half-baked feminism — and the sense of humour bypass that accompanied it. Like so many girls of my generation, I took myself far too seriously and was quick to mistake kindness or generosity for sexism.
I would never let a man pay for dinner (or I would never admit to it, at any rate) and I wore ugly shoes I could walk in, rather than have to accept a lift home in high heels. As for winking, thigh-patting and the occasional wolf-whistle — woe betide the man who dared.
Now, aged 50, I realise how silly I was to get so wound up about such things. If I had my time again, I would accept those gestures for what they are: crude but flattering demonstrations of male admiration. And I would appreciate them all the more as I know how much I miss them now they’re gone.
Believe it or not, I used to get wolf-whistled on a fairly regular basis in my youth (although not as much as my friend Lucy, who’d cause serious industrial accidents if she went within 100 yards of a building site)….
Nowadays, I’d be positively overjoyed by the attention. To today’s right-on students, these must sound like the demented ramblings of a Fifties housewife. But until you’ve experienced the invisibility switch for yourself, you really have no idea what it feels like.
Now, if only the victimologists as Jezebel and the constabulary in the U.K. could see that.