23-year-old Poppy Smart of Worcester UK, grew so tired of being the recipient of wolf-whistling builders as she made her way to work each day that she saw no option but to report this to the police. Describing their behaviour as disrespectful and sexist she simply refused to tolerate it any longer.
Taking action the police went to speak with the protagonists, who agreed to stop the cat-calling and jeers amid accusations that she was over-reacting and was a ‘silly little girl’, as one builder, Ian Merritt put it. The police were later criticized themselves for what was seen as wasting valuable police resources on this complaint instead of being out fighting more serious crimes.
Looking at it from another perspective, Poppy, still only the tender age of 23, could one day long for the days when she would receive this kind of attention…any attention, and is perhaps still too young to view this issue in correct proportion. While some may feel objectified and demeaned, other women may view this problem slightly differently and could even welcome such public displays of appreciation by men.
When you consider the various findings of surveys where many women of a certain age describe feeling invisible at 51 years old, you would suspect that they would not respond in quite the same way:
More than two-thirds of women over 45 told how they had walked into a room and had been completely unnoticed by the opposite sex. More than half felt left on the shelf and judged negatively simply based on their age.
Only 15% of those over 45 would describe themselves as having high or very high confidence, while nearly half described themselves as having no confidence in themselves whatsoever.
Four in ten said that missing out on male attention was a factor in their low self-esteem, and for others the mere presence of younger women at a social event was completely ‘confidence sapping’. Moreover, six in ten felt that modern life was geared towards younger women. With British actress Kristin Scott Thomas speaking candidly of just, “Disappearing into middle age”, the future can indeed seem bleak.
Clearly no one should be made to feel uncomfortable by being leered at when they are going about their daily lives. However, it could be argued that this complaint belies her age of 23 in dealing appropriately with this kind of male attention. On balance at least, one could ask, was it really worthy of police involvement?