How the Builders Stole My Mojo and Straight Talking Got it Back Again....
Posted Jan 11 2009 5:24pm
First a big thank you to Peanut Butter Boy who nominated me to receive the delightful blog award pictured below, 'Arte y Pico' - for those bloggers who appreciate a little beauty on screen and generally try to make the world a lovelier place by appreciating eye candy (in the broadest sense you understand - I don't mean to imply that this award is for oglers and the unashamedly lecherous). It comes with a meme which I am going to have to decline just now. My policy on memes is that I do them only when they really strike me and I feel I can write something worth reading. No offence meant Peanut Butter Boy, I still love you and your nutty buttery ways and thanks so much for the nomination, it made me smile. Whoever is given this award must nominate five other bloggers to recieve it - mine are at the bottom of the post and if you want to write your meme, go check out PBBoy
However, to segue back to the disclaimer about ogling - I had a personal epiphany this week regarding the subject. It happened like this.
Along the road a little way from us some builders are bodging up a new house from scratch. I cycle past this site at least four times a day and sometimes walk past it too. I was watching the wobbly and possibly criminally illegal progress of this shambolic creation with interest - would it stand up I wondered, would it even resist the rain?
As I flashed past on my bike each time there would come a little 'woo-hoo!' from the site, quiet at first and then as they got more confident about it, 'wey-hey!' and a few wolf whistles if they were feeling especially excitable. I started to feel uncomfortable about cycling past and walking down the road felt even worse, the long approach as they watched and I averted my eyes, the whistling while I stared at the pavement and tried not to trip over.
Now I'm not a timid person, you might even say I'm pretty confident. I've even been called dominant on occasion! But here was a situation that reduced me to a scuttling mouse, a button up my top another notch, wonder if my skirt is provocative wisp of self consciousness.
I started to avoid the road and took a detour every time so that I didn't have to worry about it anymore. It didn't feel like a solution, this pack of thoughtless builders had taken away the ease with which I breezed around town and didn't worry if my skirt blew up for a moment. Now the very thought caused me to clutch the fabric around me in case a stray gust should catch me unawares.
Then came the day when I had to walk past them. Late for a bus I strode up the road anticipating the whoop and holler and sure enough they obliged with a volley of wolf whistles. So I turned around and said loudly, 'stop it, you're making me feel really uncomfortable' and their jaws hung slack with surprise as they sifted though the meaning of what I'd said. Not the usual, 'f*** off' that I'd have given before to a bunch of builders. Screaming expletives at them only seems to produce more abuse, forcing them together to bond over that feeling of having won one over on you.
Wolf whistling is not an expression of appreciation, but an act of cowardice. Men exerting their ability to control women through sexualizing them. I've never been whistled by a lone builder because he knows instinctively that he can't intimidate me on his own, he needs his buddies, fueled by testosterone and physical labour. So when I realised that all I had to do was make them aware of me as a person with feelings, it seemed simple enough to just say something honest and let them consult their consciences individually. How can you holler and jeer when someone says something plain and honest?
As I walked away a hush fell, broken only by my heels on the pavement. I glanced back as I turned the corner and they were still watching me go, not a sneer in sight. I haven't heard a sound out of them since.
I nominate the following fantastic bloggers for my award: