Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Why Don't Boys Whistle At Girls Anymore?

Why don't boys whistle at girls anymore?

Am I the only one that remembers a different America? One where the young people actually liked each other and the girls were good natured enough to appreciate the boys whistling at them? Doesn't anyone remember the song that rose to the charts in the 50's called "Standing On the Corner, Watching All the Girls Go By?"

Even at Bible Camp, the young men would whistle at the group of girls walking ahead of them on a path. There was nothing sinister meant about it at all.

Why don't boys whistle at girls anymore? Maybe they never heard anyone do it. Maybe we skipped a generation, or something. The last time I ever heard of a man whistling at a young woman was in New York, when a young career woman walked past a construction site. Some of the workers whistled at her and one man yelled something like, "Hey, Beautiful!" The young woman sued them all in court for sexual harassment, and won.

It could be that women don't dress in a way that would make anyone want to whistle at them. Back then, they wore dresses and hats, and it was a pretty sight, quite different than the appearance of men. It would be a worrisome thing to do, today, I suppose, for fear of actually whistling at a man, who looked like a woman. And, how would men be able to tell, at a distance, if the girls were actually girls, by the way they dress, in their jeans and tee shirts and tennis shoes.

I feel sorry for this generation of young people. They never saw a man whistle at a woman because he liked her. You understand, that they didn't whistle hypocritically. They never whistled at a woman unless they really approved of her, so if a woman got whistled at, it usually made her smile.

I propose that the next time a woman is out in public with her husband, that she make sure she wears a dress and a hat. Her husband should whistle at her and call her a beautiful doll. He should be as loud as he wants. After all, this is a free country, and there are a lot more hot words flying around besides "beautiful doll." His wife should then look back at him, under her hat, and give him a sweet smile. Then they should walk toward each other, meet, and pretend to exchange cell phone numbers. Maybe we could start a trend. I ran this thought past my son in law and his beautiful wife, (my daughter, of course) and they thought it would bring a smile--at least to them. Of course, if you are mean spirited like a lot of young women today, you could always sue your husband for whistling at you like the girl who walked past the construction workers, but you should make sure you have been frugal enough to save up a lot of money so he'll have plenty to give you.

Who or what took away some of the things in our lives, the little things, that made us feel like we had our own culture? What happened to our sayings and our gestures, that did no harm? They were not replaced by anything better. We got rid of the whistlers by intimidating them with threats of lawsuits. I just don't understand it. I want my country back.

Don't know what in the world I am talking about? It is because you were born so late you missed it. You can rent some old movies maybe and see some scenes where they did it, and some new movies that depict life in the 1950's. Try "Beyond the Sea," or "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." Even in the old flick, "It's a Wonderful Life," there is good-natured whistling.

Don't bother to flame me about this. You are just too young to understand. As they say, youth is wasted on the young.


LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Why don't men tip their hats and open doors for women anymore? Because of the same threats. Other reasons: women aren't as feminine anymore. Its no fun to do these things for them.

Mrs. W said...

I don't know about all this taking a whistle as a compliment, ma'am! I'm a young woman, and I and several girls have had to deal with foolish men honking at us or gawking like wolves at us as we go about our business, on the street or in other public places. Sometimes, the creeps have even slowed down their cars beside me and "flirted" with me as I tried to walk in peace. (I think they tend to be in groups when they do this.)

We don't take it as a compliment because it is overtly sexual and predatory in nature. I remember several times in high school having grown men make inappropriate comments about my young age and beauty as I walked home from school! It's like these men think they are in a rap video or something. How do they expect a respectable young lady to respond?

So no, I don't know if I've ever heard a man whistle at a woman, but it's generally regarded as a foolish woman who is flattered by the chosen "complimentary" behavior of men today.

I do understand, though, how wearing a skirt and *looking* like a girl begets more gentlemanly treatment from men. :) However, many will still gawk and shout "Hey!" or "pssst!" as if it's supposed to be appealing.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Mrs. W.,

Like I said in the above, you can't understand it today, because you were not there yesterday and it was not passed down in the good natured way that it was once delivered. When the lawsuits began, the music stopped. Young women lost a prelude, and ended up with crudeness. Whistling at girls was not considered crude. What we have today is far worse, and I am not talking about whistling at girls. The point of the article was that it is a sad commentary on young women today that men don't whistle at them anymore.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. W, I'm in between Mrs. Lydia and you, so I also remember the sleezebags that would drool over my friends and I (and worse), but I also remember as a child seeing men whistle at men, and it was mainly innocent; much like the songs of the period in which men didn't go into lurid details about body parts and the activities best suited for those parts, but simply sang about how wonderful girls were and how beautiful their smiles and eyes were. As a child I never felt like I was in the presence of something dirty when I saw a young man whistle at a young woman and I only heard happiness and excitement in the pop songs about beautiful girls.

There is clearly a difference between what Mrs. Lydia is writing about and the porno sleezeballs that visually violate women. There's nothing innocent about that, and it's a shame that that has become the norm.

As for Mrs. Lydia's comment, I suspect she's right that the way women dress now isn't too inspirational, and women are so afraid of the lewd, dangerous men that they scare off those that would tip their hats to them if they were inclined to, as well as those who would open the door for women (those that dare to are so appreciative when you give them a smile)or even smile at seeing a beautiful woman pass by.


ps I'll have to post anonymous since I never remember any password more than two days!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Thanks Daisy. You explained it a lot better than I did. You can see it in some of the old movies. No, it was not what the young women think it is. It was completely different. It took place in a happy, innocent time in our country.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Actually as I remember more of it, the girls wanted the boys to whistle at them. So, they were a lot more careful to be nice to them, to dress well, and to appreciate them.

Mrs. W said...

It actually is pleasant for a man to say something along the lines of "You look very nice today, ma'am"; that happens sometimes. Or a polite smile and a nod is one thing. People do do that today, and it seems to vary by city. Yet, even in a city where men can be more polite like that, the crude ones still outnumber them!

Basically, as long as that's all they're saying - no "can I have your number" or "can I take you out to dinner" - it's fine. My husband actually laughed when I told him that a man earlier in the day had told me I was "the epitome of beauty"! I think he grossly overexaggerated, ;) but at least he was polite.

Like I said too, sometimes the way a woman is dressed makes the difference (though the creeps will not care regardless).

That's just a random 2 cents; it may not be entirely related! :)

Kelleigh said...

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and It's A Wonderful Life - I love these movies too.

Something else we don't hear much of these days - the menfolk whistling happy tunes as they go about their business. My Dad used to whistle, as did many men of his generation.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

They used to sing out loud, too.

Anonymous said...

As a young women (upon whom youth is wasted), I find whistling strangers patronising even when it is clearly meant as a compliment and remains good natured. The attention also makes me uncomfortable. However, if I knew the person whistling at me I would take the compliment. I think it's just a case of these days you can't be entirely sure of the intention of the whistler unless you know them personally. That's why I can't see the trend making a resurgance. In addition, a great deal of my male friends would never whistle at a girl because they too feel uncomfortable and as though they were being disrespectful to the girl. Call it what you will but that is how many in generation think.

Elizabeth said...

Perhaps I'm to young to understand this sort of whistling. I'm 29 years old and have been whistled at a few times. Of course, since I've had 3 kids it's been a while ... haha. But each of these times it was by men that just give you the creeps. You know the sort: the ones that, when your head snaps up with a jump, look at you like a t-bone steak. I certainly would like to know and see this sort of "good whistling" because I have never seen it that I can remember.

I can testify to what's being said about "wearing a skirt and looking like a girl." Before I had children I worked as a secretary in an ExxonMobil oil plant near my house. I always tried exceedingly hard to look and conduct myself as a lady. Now, you can imagine what sort of men typically work at an oil field. But I would hear talk among the men in the corner of my ear that when you went to the front office you had to "behave." Sometimes we would have these huge group lunches where we would cook at the plant and eat in. Sometimes one of the men would let a word slip. Although there were several ladies who worked with me, the apologies were always directed to me...usually accompanied by ears red from embarrassment! Not to mention that, even several of my bosses and the foremen called me "Mrs. Elizabeth" even though, at the time, I was only 21 or 22 years old! It wasn't done in a mocking spirit; they were just using manners I suppose.

Yeah back to the post though. A good natured compliment or a whistle, good-natured or degrading, hardly calls for a lawsuit! I suppose that "feminism" (which of course has nothing feminine about it) has so twisted womanhood that a man is afraid that he's insulting a girl by treating her like a lady. Does that make sense? Just the other day, I saw a man hold a door open for a young lady. On her passing he nodded his head very gentlemanly. As she passed she said very scornfully, "I am able to get this myself. Of course she was able to open a door. That wasn't the point.

Well, my two-cents worth ended up being more like a quarter!

cm said...

Wow, Elizabeth,how fascinating that the oil workers would make it a point to apologize to you because you were ladylike! (not to say no other woman deserves an apology)

Also, there's something about being dressed ladylike that makes any woman look like she is to be taken seriously. That may be why you were called Mrs Elizabeth.
When you look at old movies and check out the way young men and women dressed they looked like they were ready to have families and be responsible. They looked mature without looking old.

Mrs. W, "the epitome of beauty" is too rich! Ha!


Anonymous said...

My husband still whistles at me and my children love it!

Anonymous said...

A better question to be asked is: why don't men woo women anymore? Well, why should they? Feminist attitudes have destroyed their will, and perhaps there is no need for "wooing." Girls are so much more forward today and they skip any nice preliminaries. They do not know what they are missing.

Stacy VA said...

I've just stumbled upon your blog and find it quite interesting. I remember as a younger girl getting whistles and thinking it was a compliment, then in my 20's was irritated and annoyed by it. Now as I approach 40 I don't mind a wink, smile or whistle at all. I am very much a lady and was raised to be such and am raising my two girls to be ladies, too. I think the world would be given a great service if mothers would all raise their girls to be little ladies, full of inner confidence and beauty that does not need to be flaunted and put on display to make them feel good. Just my two cents!

Anonymous said...

I just want to say that I am amongst the "youth" here, being that I will be 30 years old in 2 months :) However, being a lady that is raising a young lady and trying to lead by example, I do not find a man whistling at a lady to be offensive. What I do find offensive is "cat calls" which, at least here in the city, usually border on sexual harrassment rather than innocent flirting or compliments!

I also want to add that my husband woo'd me. He swept me right off my feet with the fact that he was the only boy I had ever dated or even been around that had manners, opened doors for me, pulled out my chair, stood up when I walked into a room or left a room AND complimented me. And he still does all of those things after 4 kids and 13 years :)

Stacy said...

I wish men and boys would whistle more often. I remember being BARKED at in highschool (about 4 years ago) becuase a boy thought that was a compliment. I prefer the whistle. oh yes xD

Anonymous said...

As for men tipping their hats or opening doors for women:

Number one, men DO open doors for women all the time to this day. That custom seems to be alive and well at least among professional people in the urban northeast where I live and work. I have also never heard of or seen a woman object to having a door opened for her. It just doesn't seem like a big deal either way.

As for hats, men don't wear hats all the time any more, so I think that is one reason the custom of hat-tipping has died out.

I don't really object to hat tipping, but I can take it or leave it. I do think that "displays of chivarly" by men are meant as reminders to men to treat women with respect in times and places when women's rights to respect were not considered as obvious. I would rather be treated with the real respect as I am today, than with "faux" respect of men of my father's generation who made a big deal about rising when a woman enters the room while privately thinking that we women are all helpless bird-brains.

-- Laurie P.

Anonymous said...

Dear ladies,
I enjoyed both post and comments, clear and succinct. But Womanhood remains blind in one eye, too new-school oriented. Let me offer a man’s view about old and new school.
First, chivalry and compliments whistled and otherwise offered used to be the function of one thing: Men respected the female sex more than their own. Both love and appreciation of beauty built on that foundation—it was old school in action.
Second, neither modern nor older men know how to show affection as females like to see it. They wash her car, solve her problem, or whistle at her. It’s their Affection Delivery Disorder at its best. [See more at post 3. Affection—both have A.D.D. at]
However, for several decades anti-male feminist attitudes and sexual harassment charges have torn down appreciation of females faster than beauty can sustain it, especially when women throw in sloppy clothing, careless grooming, and weakened self-respect.
Men do whatever women require in order to have frequent and convenient access to sex. Respect for the female sex wanes with casual and unmarried sex, because men see the female gender cheapening itself.
Men would never give away their ultimate asset so cheaply, but women do. The cheaper price to pay for sex equates to less respect for the provider. Less respect means less appreciation by men, and this converts masculine aggressiveness into gross, unsought, and even violent behaviors.
Men dominate society, where people live. Women dominate the culture, which determines why people do what they do. When women blame men for what women don’t like, they should examine the culture that ‘evolved’ over the past four or so decades under female sponsorship and tutelage.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...


I always said women should never give their affection to any man who was not prepared to offer her a life time of care and commitment and a washer and a dryer. This would lessen their offerring considerably, knowing they would not get a fair trade with many men who would not marry.

Instead of being guided by fathers and brothers and the males who would care most about them, women have been sent to colleges, where feminists rule many of the classes and where they are given a different feeling for men than they would naturally have. The sad and sometimes laughable letters that I am sent usually come from the girls at college who think they know how this world should be run but have no experience in marriage, home and family.

Anonymous said...

An interesting post. I certainly find that men treat me differently when I wear dresses and skirts. (older men that is...the young ones ignore me completely!) I wish it was like the old days...politeness, manners and gracefulness.

Thank you for an inspiring blog.
love, Tina x

sarah said...

I think...our generation and culture is just so debauched. Young women raised in the world's culture....just don't know anything better. They were raised in the gunk....there is no more innocence in our mainstream culture.

God's Princess said...

Wonderful post Lydia!

My daughter and I were just discussing a couple of days ago how we actually like boys whistling at us, but it it seems that the custom is slowly disappearing. And, perhaps many men are too afraid to do it anymore.

Jonell said...

Would you consider posting or discussing how a Lady should respond to this kinds of innocent whistling? Reaction would vary depending on personalities, attitude and setting of course.

It does call for an appropriate ladylike response or in some instances 'lack of' response.

I recall when I was 40ish and had 3teenage sons there were times when one of their friends might whistle [or blow the car horn] in passing me.

My sons' response to their friend went something like this: "Now you know My mom is not going to acknowledge that." [they were saying 'my mom is a lady ]

Everyone won't u alluded to: "you just had to live in that time".


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