Also: "A whistling woman and a crowing hen are both abominations to the lord
" and "A whistling girl and a crowing hen are sure to come to
some bad end.
would say this to me, so at first I thought it had to be a part of her stuffy Southern Baptist
ideas. But I did a little google
searching and discovered it was also an Irish proverb
: "A whistling woman and a crowing hen will bring no luck to the house they are in.
" Or in London
in the 18th century
: "A whistling woman and a crowing hen,
Are neither good for God nor men'.
" and "A whistling woman and a crowing hen,
Will frighten the Devil out of his den.
" In Nova Scotia
this notion can be found in a few folk songs
. So what is wrong with whistling women? I can see how a crowing hen
would be upsetting. Most of the time roosters crow
, a crowing hen would be rather odd
-- but why is whistling considered, well... masculine
I started thinking about an old theatre superstition
: never whistle in a theatre
this one goes back to the 17th century
in London when sailors often ran the ropes and rigging
when they got sick of the sea. Sailors used whistles to alert each other of falling objects
. So whistling in a theatre could have caused chaos and delayed the opening by breaking the set.
Since sailors whistle, perhaps it was seen as a "carefree and loose" (like sailors
) -- these have never been socially acceptable
traits for a woman (especially a woman who is in your home, as opposed to one who's in your motel
Whistling is also fairly "lower class
men had nothing to play song
on so they used the mouth-flute
of the whistle to make their songs.
Maybe it is the kiss
of the whistle
. (are whistles seductive
When Hens Begin To Crow
is the title of a study by Sylvia Tamale
of gender and politics
. In fact it seems that many feminist
s have taken up the cause of reversing the whistling metaphor. In Uganda
and in the American South crowing hens
must be killed right away or they will bring bad luck
. Is the proverb sexist
Maybe women are meant to hum? (humming
men always seemed suspicious
Even after reading everything
I could find on the subject I still don't know why whistling
is thought of as masculine
. But I hope I've at least opened a few doors so that we can solve this mystery