Dear E. Jean: Often when I’m walking around our apartment in my undies—getting ready for work, brushing my teeth, etc.—my fiancé will whistle and catcall me. I’ve tried to tell him this makes me feel uncomfortable and objectified. We have a great relationship and are very close, but he’s also taken to randomly pretend-humping me when I’m at the stove cooking, or at the hall mirror fixing my hair. I’ve asked him to keep these kinds of jokes to a minimum, but he then gets very defensive and shuts off. How can I explain to him I love being an object of affection, not a sex object? —It’s Just Underwear, Stop Whistling
Miss Just, My Jackdaw: Those whistles? They’re not “catcalls,” honey. They’re mating calls—love songs from the oldest jukebox on earth, tributes to your allure, and, OMG, let’s be frank, to your talent for selecting charming lingerie.
Don’t turn this into an intellectual crisis.
I don’t wish to scar your soul by further discussing those intimate articles that “a nice girl shrinks from naming when there are gentlemen present,” as P. G. Wodehouse says, but in the last couple of decades, the Ask Eeee correspondence mentioning lingerie (between 600 and 700 letters, in my estimation) falls into two categories:
(a) Women who write to complain that though they run through the house in undies so fetching that Auguste Rodin’s Thinker would climb off his pedestal and beg for a boff, their boyfriends/girlfriends/spouses/lovers never so much as twitch a left eyelid.
(b) Women who write to complain that no matter how imposing the facade imposed by their dingy, stretched-out, old unmention- ables, boyfriends/girlfriends/spouses/lovers make haste to embrace them in the most fulsome manner.
Group (a) far, far outnumbers Group (b). Count yourself lucky, Miss Just. As for the annoying grinding, come on. Every primate, including Homo sapiens, play-humps (along with dogs, horses, etc.). Two of my husbands (both men of prime quality) accompanied the action, to great comic effect, with the well-known “pant-hoot” of chimpanzees. (And if you can find me just one happily married woman anywhere on this planet who’s bent over a vacuum cleaner to switch it on and not had a husband run up and nudge her, I’ll start dating my Dyson.) It’s not an objectification of you, my luv. It’s capering. It’s cavorting. It’s Mother Nature’s way of keeping everyone in practice. Tell him to cool it when it really gets annoying. (Coming smartly down with your heel on his toes also works.)
This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at E.Jean@AskEJean.com.