A wolf whistle is not a sound made by a wolf nor is it a way of calling a wolf. A wolf whistle refers to a specific whistle, one that is often used by men as a way to express notice or appreciation of the appearance of a woman. The wolf whistle is a two-fingered whistle, performed by placing two fingers in the mouth and expelling air over the tongue and between the lips. The characteristic rise and fall in tone of the wolf whistle is often duplicated as a fingerless whistle by those who can’t whistle around the obstruction of their fingers.
Though the wolf whistle has long been a way of open and expressive flirtation, it is rarely well received by its female recipients. Those expressing satisfaction of someone’s sexual appeal should use caution, especially in certain situations. In the work place for example, even a seemingly innocent wolf whistle could be deemed sexual harassment. Further, depending on the company of the target and how offensive she may find it, a wolf whistler could find himself in an awkward position to say the least.
The two-fingered wolf whistle may be a questionable means of flirting, but by rearranging the tones of a wolf whistle, it could instead elicit a different reaction if it is used to call attention to one’s self, like when whistling for a dog or calling a child. No matter how the tones are arranged, mastering the wolf whistle requires practice. Once it is mastered, its use is up to the individual mouth.
The typical wolf whistle used flirtatiously has been frequently duplicated electronically in the form of obnoxious cell phone ring tones and even truck horns. Wolf Whistle is also the title of a novel by Lewis Nordan in which a young black boy is murdered for whistling at a prominent southern white woman in 1955’s rural Mississippi.