For the very first time, the police have probed a construction company after its workers consistently catcalled a 23-year-old woman. Poppy Smart, from Worcester, had to walk past a building site every day to get to and from her job as a digital marketing co-ordinator. And every day she’d get wolf-whistles. For a month. Like, guys, get the bloody hint.
‘Morning love,’ one said to her as he stood in front of her. She says: ‘He was probably 18 or 19 and got right in my face, standing next to an older man. He didn’t touch me but they were in my personal space on the pavement, in my way, even though I literally blanked him. It’s incredibly intimidating. I’m quite a nervous person and this has made my anxiety worse.’
She continued: ‘The whistling went on for a month. I eventually contacted the building company and the police on the same day when it got so bad. I even considered changing my route to work but thought, “Why should I do that?”’
Well, exactly. Some might suggest she shout back, but to say what? Anyone who’s been catcalled will know the ridiculous logic that if you shout back, the street harasser’s desire will so often flip into disgust and you’ll be called a ‘slag’ or ‘whore’ or ‘ugly anyway’.
So Poppy started to film her mornings using her phone. She then got in touch with the construction company and the police on the same day to show them the footage.
The police followed up Poppy’s complaint – this is the first time, it is believed, that wolf-whistling has been investigated as a potential crime. West Mercia police then released a statement, reports* The Telegraph*: ‘After consultation with the woman who reported the behaviour, it was decided that the employers would deal with those said to be responsible.’
Which makes a lot of sense. What would make more sense, though, is if all building contractors, from the off, trained their workers to just not interrupt women’s days like this. In fact, we can think of a fair few industries where employees could do with just the tiniest bit of training on how to not make women feel crap.
‘People say it is only wolf-whistling but women shouldn’t have to deal with it,’ Poppy said. ‘I think more women should speak out about this behaviour – maybe it will make people think twice.’
Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson
Picture: News Team International
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.