The practice of cat-calling – allegedly socially acceptable in the 1970s – has rightly come under the spotlight of late. The difficulty, however, in socially outlawing this practice is the challenge of radically changing such a deeply engrained convention with any immediate effect. Despite the (loud) wishes of the feminists, that’s actually not so easy to do and consequently seems likely to fail.

So how about some baby steps towards a mutually acceptable conclusion? Perhaps it should begin this way, but for me the smart progression in cat-calling would be something along these lines:


And if it’s kind of difficult for you to imagine that a hunky, macho builder would call his cat “Fluffy”, then try to imagine one not wolf-whistling at a passing woman.

Woolworths – in their own littleworld

Over here in SA, we have our own Woolworths. It’s completely unconnected with the UK Woolworths which finally died the death in a blaze of media coverage in January. Our Woolies is more akin to Marks & Spencer, with food prices to match.  

I occasionally pop in to Woolworths, usually for fresh produce – flowers, fruit, fish and meat – which, although a little expensive, will at least last until the use by date, as opposed to Pick n Pay stuff which is rotten by the time you get it home. Also, their kids meals and baby food are excellent. So yes, I’m a fan of Woolies. Or rather – I was.

While in their Milner Road store the other day, I spotted a leaflet advertising their littleworld programme, whereby when you buy kids food, kids clothes, kids accessories etc, you can get “a world of rewards for mother and child”, including (but not limited to) pampering at a spa, discounts on magazine subscriptions, a free muffin at W café, exclusive Woolworths vouchers and free entry into competitions and prize draws, as well as a newsletter with helpful expert advice on raising your child.

Sounds great, as I like muffins, I enjoy buying nice stuff for my kids and – of course – I want to raise them the best I can.
Except – I’m not a mum. I’m a dad. So apparently, I’m not welcome.

Check the terms and conditions:

Mothers of children between the ages of 0 to 6 years are invited to join the littleworld programme, as are mothers-to-be, grandmothers, aunts or anyone who loves shopping for little ones.

Now – I don’t want to appear over-sensitive or anything, but that list does appear to be ever so slightly female-orientated. This is very much the same as the non-progressive shopping malls with their “mother and child” parking bays and the baby changing facilities in the ladies loos.
In this country with its model Constitution – and moreover from Woolworths, one of the flagship brands in SA – you would really expect more inclusive policies, programmes and offers. 

And yes, I’m sure I fall neatly into the last category on that list from their leaflet, but that’s really not the point. 
Admittedly I’m not a business or consumer expert, but even I can see the common sense in thinking about the messages you’re sending out before you launch a new programme like this. I recognise that there is a specific target market for this programme. But I think they chose the wrong target market.
Can only women bring up children now? Don’t fathers count? Granddads, uncles? And if we do exist, then why can’t we have some reward or thanks for using Woolies products for our children?

It’s not so hard. I don’t see anything there that would be lost if the leaflet read “a world of rewards for parent and child”. Or if they included some male relatives in the “who can join” section. Or even if they just didn’t include the examples of “other” people who can join.
But instead, they really seem to have gone out of their way in order to exclude fathers – and frankly, that is a big disappointment.

EDIT: Update, 19th June 2009