You whistling at me?

It was 10pm on Saturday night. I was walking home from the tube. And I heard a wolf whistle behind me.I’ve lived in Indian cities where a whistle is so common you don’t even notice it. Like rubbish on the streets, you tune it out.

But this was London & I wasn’t used to wolf whistles here. I turned back to see where the whistle had come from.

There were four of them. Young British Asian men huddled inside a dark car, idling on a dark street at 10pm.  I had that moment we all do, when an inner cautious voice whispered ‘Don’t create trouble…”.

But in that one moment, unlike all the hundreds of thousands of moments where other men had whistled or groped or cat called, something inside me snapped.

I walked up to the dark car and said, “Why are you whistling at a woman who’s walking alone at 10pm?”

“It was meant to be flattering,” came a muffled voice from the back of the car. It was so dark I couldn’t see his face.

“But it’s not cool…” I started to say.

The young man nearest me interrupted & said, “We weren’t whistling!”

I don’t know what I was expecting. Not an apology. Just some embarrassment at having been caught out doing something their mums would’ve twisted their ears for. (Trust me, they looked young enough.)

“Haven’t you got anything better to do than whistle at passing women on a Saturday night?” I asked him

He laughed, “Ha! Didn’t notice you were a WOMAN.” His friends laughed along.

This was London. This was my city. I’d moved away from India so I could walk home from a tube station without being bothered.

I found myself angry. Not just at him but all the men who had groped, cat called, made me feel unsafe when I lived in India.

Irritatingly when I get angry, I lose the ability to be coherent. So I did the only thing I could – I swore black & blue. At the top of my voice.

The guys in the car looked shocked. Maybe their friends, mums & sisters didn’t use language like that.

And then having expressed my anger to my satisfaction, I walked home.

In hindsight, if those guys had decided to get aggressive – perhaps I would’ve put myself in danger.

But the truth is, in that one moment, I had had enough. This was my city, my safe place. No one was going to make me feel unsafe…



Unsurprisingly, there are no pages devoted to this unsexy practice in the pages of my favourite erotic manual.

3 Replies to “You whistling at me?”

  1. Someone grabbed me from behind between the legs, on MY street in daylight. Then he ran off. I was so shocked I bolted home which was only about 15 houses down. To this day I regret not reporting it. It STILL makes me boil with rage. If I ever see that prick again I swear …..
    Whatever made me not think it wasn’t important enough to report, has he done it again? Has it gone further with assaulting women? I’m very angry and ashamed too at how I belittled the incident.

    1. That’s awful! Sorry to hear about your experience. Please don’t beat yourself up about not taking the matter further.

      Sangeeta, well done for standing up to them! Proud of you, sister!

  2. I was on the Tube at rush hour a few years ago, going home. Seated next to me was a very well-dresses Asian man with a briefcase on his lap. We were seated on the jump seats near the doors, so quite close together. Suddenly I could feel him trembling and pushing his leg against mine. I looked down an behind his briefcase, he had his dick out and was wanking violently.
    I rolled up my Evening Standard and while shouting that he was a dirty old man and what the fuck did he think he was doing, loudly, I was whacking him with the newspaper.
    People were looking at me as if I was mad, so I said, loudly, that he was having a sank and pushing himself against me.
    Why I didn’t pull the emergency cord, I don’t know. Instead, I gave him one last disgusted look and left my seat (which was promptly taken by another woman). I stayed on the train until my stop and got off. I was shaken, but I said nothing to the station staff. I just accepted it as part of life. Why? Because similar things had happened to other friends, once when we were 13 and my friend was on a train coming to meet me. A man was wanking on the train and when we reported it to the police (she arrived at our meeting spot terrified, shaking and crying) they first of all thought we were joking, but then said that there was nothing that could be done and indecent exposure would only get him a slap on the wrist anyway.
    But thankfully, BTP are taking incidents like this more seriously now, and if anything like that should happen to you on a tube or train, pull the emergency cord, make a lot of noise and make sure the perpetrator doesn’t jump off the train before the authorities can get to him (generally a man, but there might be some women who do similar).

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