Quote of the Day - I didn't like netball... I used to get wolf whistles because of my short skirts.
Perhaps one of the most universally understood pair of sounds (sharp but short ascending tone followed by first by a similarly high tone with an immediate lower and longer descending tone), the wolf whistle is considered flattering by most men and offensive by most women. Well, certainly there are a multitude of interpretations by men and women, but it's meaning is typically rooted as a compliment for sexual attractiveness.
In case you're a historical buff (no pun intended), the first record of the wolf whistle was about 400 A.D. in only one act in Plautus' Mercator (403-408) [Mercator is Latin for Merchant and is a comedy]. In the play, Demipho says to his son Charinus, referring to the beautiful slave girl they both secretly love and whom the son pretends to have bought for his mother: "I can't permit it. She is hardly the proper sort of person to attend your mother." Charinus: "Why not?" Demipho: "Because it would cause scandal if such a beauty were the attendant of a wife and mother; when she passes through the streets all the men would look at her, leer, nod and wink and whistle (sibilent). [Latin for a type of wolf whistle.]"
There you have it. Some 1,500 years of the wolf whistle. No wonder almost everyone understands it. If it was first in Latin (or Greek), it has to be old.
It apparently is understood in New Zealand, too. There, an Israeli tourist tired of men constantly whistling at her, and when she walked by a construction site (you knew that was coming, didn't you?), she got fed up and gave them what they wanted.
Then she calmly used the ATM machine, and once finished, got dressed and left. Well, almost. At that point, the New Zealand authorities intervened and took her to the downtown Wellington police station. There after dealing with the woman, Police Sergeant Peter Masters told a local newspaper, "She gave the explanation that she had been ... pestered by New Zealand men. She's not an unattractive looking lady," Masters said.
"She was taken back to the police station and spoken to and told that was inappropriate in New Zealand," the police officer said, apparently with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.
Right. That's exactly what he said. Left off with just a warning. Mmhmm.
You can read more stories like this one in my How to Get Sued book from Kaplan Publishing to be released June 3rd.