Flattered by a wolf whistle...should women take it in the spirit it is meant?

Ellen Widdup

Ellen Widdup - Credit: Archant

I got a wolf whistle the other day. I know! It shocked me too, writes Ellen Widdup.

Here I am, eight months pregnant in elasticated slacks, mildly incontinent, waddling like a penguin and attracting the holler of an Ipswich scaffolder 10 years my junior.

Of course my first reaction was to assume the catcall was meant for someone else.

My second was to register the slight tip of the chin in my direction.

My third was concern that the poor fellow was blind, drunk or ill – all dangerous conditions for a man halfway up the side of a building and sitting precariously on a metal pole.

And my fourth was to laugh and slowly turn full circle to show off the extent of my space hopper belly.

This, to my great amusement, nearly made him fall of his perch.

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I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day.

You see, unlike a lot of women, I don’t have a problem with wolf whistling.

In fact, I have rather missed it.

Not just because these days it’s exceedingly unlikely to be sent in my direction.

But also because there has been such a backlash from Planet Feminism on this act of harmless flirtation, that most chaps are afraid to do it.

First there was the 23-year-old who called the police after finding her walk to work a “daily campaign of sexual harassment” from a bunch of builders.

Then there was the End Violence Against Women Coalition movement to get the Prime Minister to criminalise this type of jeer – which, thankfully Dave rejected.

And just a few months ago construction firm George Wimpey sent out a memo advising workers against the practice.

Sales and marketing boss Richard Goad told his staff that “savvy and sophisticated women won’t stand for being whistled at by builders.” And found it “deeply insulting”.

But by Goad I think he’s wrong.

In a country where the most effusive form of male compliment is “my mate fancies you”, wolf-whistles prevent the British man being completely neutered by the PC brigade.

Besides which many of us ladies, simple creatures that we are, actually appreciate the compliment.

Especially if, like me, you don’t get many at home.

My husband told me yesterday that if it were men who carried babies for nine months and then gave birth, we wouldn’t have children at all.

“It looks uncomfortable,” he said, eyeing my swelling physique. “It takes years off your life and it destroys your body.”

I bristled.“What exactly does that mean?” I said curtly.

“Pregnancy makes you take everything so personally,” he added, like he hadn’t just insulted me, destroyed my self-confidence and made me feel utterly unattractive in one throwaway remark.

Of course after watching me blub, he felt suitably chastised and spent the best part of an hour reassuring me that my red, puffy, swollen face was the most beautiful thing he had ever laid eyes on and my fat, stretch-mark covered body was the most incredible vessel ever to have delivered life on Earth.

To be honest by the end of his sycophantic drivel I was left thinking that a simple wolf whistle would have sufficed.

Nevertheless I had to have the last word in our conversation so I pointed out that, although I had a few extra curves, his body was also far from perfect.

“It’s a lot better than it was a decade ago,” he replied stung, which is true, I said, if you like that kind of thing.

“What kind of thing?” he asked. “Ten years ago I had a beer belly. Now I work out daily and have ripped abs. Every man wants to be ripped.”

“Yes,” I said, pleased I was starting to irritate him. “But actually that’s not what women want.”

The dad bod. Ever heard of it?

It’s an expression coined by US student Mackenzie Pearson on a blog earlier this year.

And ever since then, the internet has been buzzing with enthusiasm for the unsculpted, imperfect, dad-type builds of middle-aged guys with a bit of chunk.

According to Mackenzie the dadbod says “I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.”

It’s not about being properly overweight you see, but about being a little out of condition, non-intimidating, cuddly.

Leonardo Di Caprio has one. And Jason Segel. Oh and Simon Cowell, but that example probably won’t convince you of the attractiveness of this particular breed.

If you ask me, the reason women like this type of guy is that they make them feel better about their own body hang ups.

After all, if your man is a perfect pin-up he is likely to be either hypercritical of your imperfections or too busy admiring himself in a mirror.

And let’s face it, how could you possibly be happy and relaxed, never mind naked, with one of these creatures?

Now it might seem like celebrating the dadbod is a bit pointless; men don’t face anywhere near the kind of pressure or scrutiny that women do when it comes to how they look.

But there’s a reason why it’s a good idea.

You see men with beer bellies can’t, in all fairness, demand trophy wives can they?

The dadbod is about celebrating imperfection which means that the mumbod is even more wonderfully flawed than its male counterpart.

After all, this kind of body takes a lot of hard work to achieve. I should know.

And if that doesn’t deserve a wolf whistle of appreciation, nothing does.

Do you agree with Ellen? Email her or tweet @EllenWiddup