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When Was I Told That Good Girls Don’t Whistle

Posted: April 11, 2021

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Whistling artist Malvika Vazalwar was told, ‘Good girls don’t whistle’, by those who were shocked that a girl would do so. Here’s a spoken word poem that was inspired from this.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you,
then they fight you, then you win.

I astounded and scandalised people by being able to whistling – I was a girl, and OMG, how could I?!

I believe that every individual story of breakthrough and liberation, and every collective movement across rights; be it for women, the LGBTQIA+ community, the DBA community, the black community, the climate or even animals, follows a pattern.

Stories like mine occur in a pattern

This pattern is often similar across different situations, and can be broken down into the 4 broad stages given in the quote above:

  • Denial
  • Ridicule
  • Challenge
  • Acceptance

Bless those who curse you,
if they can’t beat you, they’ll join you.
Boys or Girls, the principal works just the same.
– Good Girls Don’t Whistle?

I have also learnt to see the stages as levels that test our resilience and conviction over those who work to passively or actively block our joy.

It’s essential to know which stage we are at. An internal assessment can guide us to pick or drop our battles, be conservative about our energy, intuitive about the time to be silent and the time to speak up, time to surrender and seek help.

Why do they say, ‘good girls don’t whistle’?

But it’s equally important to understand the psychology of the opponent (in this case, the sexist) we are dealing with for they help us to refine, build and advocate our case in a more integrated manner.

Sometimes they can be controlling because of the lack of control in their own lives, sometimes their intent can be well, but the outcome can be far from good: A well wisher who wishes to protect us but ends up ripping our opportunities, and sanity! And only makes us more dependent.

The closer we are to such people who decide our destiny from their blurred view, the more the access they have to us, the closer we are to finding battlegrounds at home.

Education begins at home but so does unlearning and change. A sexist can be anybody. A sexist can be much closer to home. And this can be tough. But it’s a question of our values. Because they certainly are living their own.

So it’s important to throw light on our story, or we will forever live inauthentically and be seen by the limiting gaze of others. And our inauthenticity is not going to light up this dark world.

Watch my spoken word poem here –

Inspired by the unsolicited advice I got – “good girls don’t whistle”. And I am grateful for the shock, and then the passion it triggered in me.

First published here.

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Instagram & Twitter: @malvikavazalwar Poet & Writer. Published in The Elephant Journal, The Rebelle Society, Thrive Global,

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