(Insert whistling here)

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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I was walking down the street yesterday near the Recoleta cemetery after eating a delicious meal of spinach stuffed ravioli when a seemingly innocent elderly man sitting at a café made eye contact with me at a distance. As I approached, he let out a cat call like no other. I was stunned. I have all respect for the elderly, but then again, I’ve never had a grandfather whistle at me. When did it become macho for eighty year old men to whistle suggestively at young women? Do Argentine men expect anything from the women they whistle at, or is it like window shopping?

While startling, it’s not the eighty year old that has bothered me the most. To date, the most disturbing incident with men occurred while I was in a taxi cab last night heading to Clasica y Moderna for a glass of wine and good tango music. At a stop light a car filled with more men than could comfortably fit in the vehicle pulled up next to ours, rolled down the window, and began shouting at us (myself and two other students, one of whom is blonde) trying to get us to roll down the window and come over and join them in their car. Thankfully our cab driver was sympathetic and rolled up the windows in our cab and locked the doors, but this other car began to follow us, flashing their lights at us, yelling, and pulling up next to us at every chance. Perhaps our cab driver had daughters of his own, because he kept commenting on how crazy the men were and made sure their car was long gone before he let us leave and pay for the ride.

I haven’t yet decided how to respond to such incidents. Should I be angry with them? Should I ignore them? Should I assume they mean well, or do I read between the lines?

Maybe though this whistling isn’t that foreign after all. In America there is no doubt that women are continually judged by both men and other women, but most frequently the sentence of acceptance or condemnation is masked, muted, and displayed indirectly.

Regardless, the act of whistling and commenting on the physicality of women asserts the feminine role as object and the masculine role as officiator?

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