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The Revenge of the She-Wolf-Whistler

Catrin Pascoe, Western Mail / icWales UK / April 30, 2005

Women are winning the battle of the wolf-whistle.

Welsh builders were once scorned for their wolf whistles and ill-fitting trousers. But today even Tom Hanks - the polite man of Hollywood - believes he can get away with the shrill gesture without a feminine glare.

Experts agree the final whistle has finally blown on this era of political correctness. Women, bolstered by greater self-confidence, no longer feel threatened by the street call "phweet phwooo!"

Struggling to feel equal in the 1970s, 1980s and even the 1990s, they were likely to shout "sexist!" in reply or hang their head in embarrassment. But now a record number of women are likely to be elected to Parliament in the forthcoming general election and shattering the boardroom glass ceiling, women can feel flattered by their rooftop admirers. Forget avoiding groups of male builders, they are now more likely to smile and whistle back in sassy style.

Cardiff model Silka Casey, 56, is a 5ft 9in green-eyed blonde. She gets up to three wolf-whistles a month and loves it.

"I have very long legs and when I wore hotpants in the '70s I'd get two or three whistles a day," says Silka.

"I say the more whistles the better. You are being admired by the opposite sex and it's a form of flattery that gives you a little boost.

"But you only usually get them when men are in a group on a building site, they wouldn't whistle unless there were other men around."

Dr Nick Neave, a psychologist studying gender differences, said, "Thanks to the kick start of feminism in the 1970s, times and cultures have changed and women enjoy their sexual freedom.

"Behaviour that was once thought indecent just isn't anymore.

"Women have achieved more power through emancipation. They are more assertive and self confident and they are more determined to demand what they want from a man.

"We see more girls and women wolf whistling at men when they are on a night out now."

Martin Currie, of the National Federation of Builders, said he didn't think wolf whistling a bad thing but the federation believes it sends the wrong message. It fears the gesture reinforces a building site's stereotypical image where a group of male builders will wolf whistle at the sight of women's legs.

Mr Currie said, "We require 380,000 new recruits and one of the things that can put people off entering the trade is this unwelcome image portrayed in the media of wolf whistling and builders' bums.

"Wolf whistling is a fact of life, it happens and we are not trying to ban it, how could a ban be enforced?

"But the image of the industry is important and we are trying to overturn these stereotypes.

"Ninety nine per cent of builders are incredibly professional tradespeople who can earn a salary from £18,000 up to £70,000 a year if they are self-employed.

"There is a big call for builders and the industry is very buoyant."

He said 60% of women surveyed said a man with first-rate DIY skills was attractive. And one in three wanted their partners to take a DIY course to brush up on their home improvement skills.

What is a Wolf Whistle?

A WOLF whistle is a typically two-note whistle made as an often unsolicited expression of sexual attention. Wolves have been considered a symbol of lust since Roman times. The specific use of wolf for a "sexually aggressive male" was first recorded 1847 and the term wolf-whistle came into general use in the 1950s.

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