Wolf whistling is a pathetic, outdated symbol of sexism but not criminal - Christa Ackroyd

Every Saturday.

JPI Media.

I have been too hot and bothered to get hot and bothered by much this week, apart from how to sleep at night and how to keep my garden watered and my dogs cool. Selfish, I know, but you know what they say about us Brits, we complain when it’s hot and moan when it’s not.

So here is a list of things which in less frazzled times might have made it to the page. But quite frankly I didn’t have the energy for.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Covid vaccinations for nightclubs. Yes totally, but why wait until September? And why not everywhere where people gather in large numbers? To mask or not to mask. Absolutely mask on. For the sake of others and ourselves. We were too late to mask up and are now too quick to be allowed to consign them to the bin. (Fortunately most of us have not, which proves yet again that which I have always believed, we have more common sense than our political leaders).

Space flights for the rich and famous? Yawn. If you have enough money to spend a fortune for eleven minutes in space then you truly have more money than sense when parts of Europe and the Far East have been under water from the effects of global warming which, and I am no scientist, I suspect a space rocket might just be adding to. Dominic Cummings. Double Yawn. The man who started the ‘it’s ok to break the rules’ culture having the audacity to take the moral high ground on all things covid. And finally Harry, the Prince who has already said too much promising to say even more, if there is anything left to be said, in a memoir. Over sharing I think is the phrase which sums that one up.

And then there is the plan to make wolf whistling a criminal offence. Oh hang on a minute, I feel my temperature rising at that one. So let me switch on the fan, fling open the doors and tell you why this, among all other subjects, got me so hot under the collar as the temperatures soared. Because it’s a smoke screen, a step too far and an opportunity for men, some men, to make it a joke. I will tell you what a wolf whistle is. It is a pathetic, outdated symbol of sexism which enforces the attitude that a woman is only as good as her looks. But it is not the act of a criminal, just a fool.

And before anyone starts saying, as I have heard said this week, that women of a certain age should consider themselves lucky to even attract the attention of the opposite sex, boy we are so much more than that, whatever our age. And we don’t need the pursing of the lips from a stranger to prove it.

More importantly, how on earth can it solve the real and present danger too many women still face which is that incidents of rape, sexual assaults and predatory behaviour are still not being successfully brought before the criminal courts in meaningful numbers.

And that means the perpetrators of serious crimes against women are getting away with it and to wolf whistle, or catcall, is not a serious crime. If police officers can’t protect us despite rising numbers of reported incidents, yet frankly dismal conviction rates, then what hope do we have? If they struggle at times to investigate simple crimes such as burglaries and car thefts, or indeed put an end to the fraudulent spam phone calls and emails we are all being inundated with from con artists making millions out of the vulnerable day in day out, and if they can’t truly tackle racism and hate crimes online, then how on earth are they going to find the man, or woman, power to tackle the serial wolf whistler?

And so dear readers I give you the Norway solution, and the truth that the answer to annoying sexist behaviour of men who judge us by our bodies not our talents is in our own hands. And it can be done.

This last week it was revealed that members of the Norwegian handball team had been fined more than £1,000 for refusing to wear regulation bikini bottoms in their European championship match. And not just any bikini bottoms. According to the International Handball federation, the rules state the bikini bottoms had to be a measured depth (skimpy) and high cut. And so the players wore shorts.

Shorts, they said, were easier to play in and more consistent with their aim to be considered professional sportswomen. They also want to grow their sport and that means attracting people of all body shapes. But above all they said if women can’t choose what they wear in 2021 then what a long way we still have to go. The Norwegian Sports minister went further demanding a change of attitude “in the macho and conservative international world of sport.”

Well bravo to them. (That’s bravo in Norwegian). The team and their supporters are certainly talking my language. Time for us all to do the same.

Above all, let us follow their example and empower women to call out sexist behaviour when they see it, hear it, or are indeed forced to endure it. And yes, that does include a wolf whistle.

Time to educate our young men from boyhood that it’s boring and definitely not cool, and like the Norwegian handball team let’s start from the bottom up, if you’ll excuse the pun.

As women in this day and age we should be strong enough to tackle low level sexism which is nothing more than an annoyance. In so doing this would help the police and the lawmakers to concentrate on the far more pressing issue of real and dangerous predatory behaviour. And for that we need the full weight of the law and the support of all.