I’ve not been wolf-whistled in at least 25 years. That’s quite a time.
But it’s now no longer true. Rewind four weeks and I am walking up a quiet Greek road thinking about figs.
I am whistled at. Technically, I know it to be a wolf whistle (the short rising note followed by a slow falling one).
I’m definitely not affronted; however I am a little shocked: who – me?
No one else is walking my way (thinking about figs or not). However, the whistler could only have seen my back before he drove past, and only afterwards clocked the lines and grey and bags and sags. Still, it was nice while the unintentional deception lasted.
A couple of days later, I’m wandering along the beach (NOT in a bikini), lost in a world of my own. From close Greek quarters I hear a “Hell-O!”
Again, I’m surprised, but I’m in disguise, with sunglasses big on my face and a blue band covering my sea-wild hair. So again it makes some sort of sense. But this time, I’m taken aback and embarrassed enough to stumble stupidly on without coming up with an original and/or tart/witty response in return (and certainly not in Greek).
A number of things run through my mind after these two (to me) extraordinary events.
- Do Greek men not feel that older women are “past it”?
- Do Greek women actually consider such attention to be a compliment (as many Danes do, apparently)?
- In the light of the #MeToo movement, is it okay for a man to wolf-whistle or utter a cheeky “Hell-O” to a lone woman?
- Or is it all simply a question of proximity: the closer the “admirer” the greater the discomfort, or even the perception of a threat?
I wonder if it’s a Southern European trait – this more audacious approach to women. But I’ve not received the same treatment in Spain or Italy all this time.
Meanwhile I wait in vain for a third show of “admiration” – my mother always says that things come in threes. Either she’s mistaken or it’s just that I’m back in the UK now where to pitch a wolf whistle might be viewed as very un-PC.
Or I have to face up to the fact that the holiday is over, Shirley Valentine I am not, and in truth I am well and truly past it.