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Construction Catcalls

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"Why do builders think that works? As if the woman's going to turn around and be like, "Oh! My future lies with him!! And his huge, rotund belly!"?"
Lee Evans

A scene used countless times in media: some construction workers are working or take their lunch break when all of a sudden a sexy lady struts by the site and they forget about either the work or their lunch for a moment. Cue the Wolf Whistles and sexual comments, which will way more often result in disgust or annoyance rather than delight from the woman. Very often Played for Laughs since it's a quite easy way to incur some situational comedy.

It's commonly subverted nowadays by having the workers comment on something else entirely.

Lecherous blue-collar workers are definitely Truth in Television, but loudly offering their thoughts to the women they ogle instead of simply joking amongst themselves is not nearly as common in Real Life nowadays as it is in fiction. It doesn't take much to identify the contractors involved on project and lodge a complaint with their office, so even if engaging in this conduct isn't illegal (which it is in some jurisdictions), it nevertheless is still a pretty quick and easy way for the offending worker to get fired and possibly blackballed from the industry. As such, straight depictions of the practice that show zero consequences are something of a Discredited Trope.

Contrast Hot Men at Work, in which women ogle sexy and shirtless construction workers or just men doing manual labour.

Hey Troper, how 'bout some examples with that description!

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  • Parodied in an Arby's commercial, where they say nothing after a couple of attractive ladies walk by (in fact, they look mildly disgusted), while a balding, overweight man holding a bag of Arby's food gets several catcalls such as "Can I get some fries with that shake?".
  • Inverted in a famous commercial for Diet Coke, with a bunch of ladies ogling a construction worker on his lunch break.
  • A Snickers commercial featured construction workers instead saying respectful things to women. The words "You're not you when you're hungry" appear.

    Films — Animated 
  • Hotel Transylvania': When we see the zombie construction workers that originally built the hotel, they stop working to admire a female zombie shambling passed them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Barbie (2023): Barbie becomes a victim of this after approaching a real world construction site she presumed consists of women (since there’s an all-women crew in Barbieland). To her surprise, it's all men who catcall her when she comes over (though surprisingly they do let off after she claims she and Ken don't have genitals).
  • In Black Scorpion II: Aftershock, a group of construction workers catcall and harass Babette as she walks past. They noticeably do not do the same when Prof. Undershaft follows her. After being transformed into Aftershock, Undershaft returns and takes her revenge on the foreman.
  • Used in the Mexican film El Crimen del Padre Amaro when the girl Amelia takes Amaro to see the construction site of the new church's hospital, Amaro even lampshades the attention Amelia gets from the workers.
  • In Drive a Crooked Road, the mechanics' break area at the garage where Eddie works sits slightly below street level and has a large glass window that allows them to see the women passing by on the sidewalk; especially their legs. Any time an attractive woman passes, their will be a barrage of catcalls and lewd comments from the mechanics. Eddie never joins in on the catcalling which earns him ribbing from his workmates.
  • The 1980 film Hardhat And Legs has the protagonists first noticing each other this way.
  • Hercules Returns. When Lisa turns up to apply for the publicist job, one of the workers renovating the Picture Palace theatre gives her a Wolf Whistle. She punches him without breaking stride.
  • Featured prominently in Microwave Massacre, due to the main character being a construction worker.
  • In The Muppets Take Manhattan, some construction workers try to flirt with Miss Piggy while she's spying on Kermit. The flirting stops after Piggy has a tantrum that involves bending steel bars.
  • In Poltergeist, the construction workers for the new pool, catcall the oldest daughter Dana, she just flips at them.
  • Promising Young Woman: When Cassie is doing a walk of shame through a bad neighbourhood, three hardhat workers at a scrapyard start giving her wolf whistles and yelling suggestive comments. Without saying a word, Cassie cows them with the world's politest Death Glare and they slink away.

  • In Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, when Bridget goes to meet her friends, she walks past a construction site. She prepares herself for "lewd catcalls and embarrassing remarks" then feels a "complete arse" for not getting any. On her way back, she walks past them again, and hears a "huge cacophony of appreciative noises". When she turns around to give them a filthy look, she finds out that they're all looking the other way, and one of them had just thrown a brick through the window of a car.
  • Gender Flipped in Robert Merle's novel The Virility Factor, where, after Gendercide killed most of the men in the world, the male protagonist has to deal with catcalling female construction workers, who eventually assault him sexually.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a group of Muggle construction workers whistle and call at Hermione when she appears on the street in a fancy dress. They are implied to do this to every woman that walks by; the disappearance of their yells foreshadows an imminent attack.
  • In The Seven Highly Effective Habits Of Highly Effective Teens, there's an anecdote from a young man who worked in construction, and fell into a porn addiction because his coworkers would bring out nudie magazines and talk about their sexual conquests and exploits and all that stuff. One day, he heard them hooting and whistling and shouting really crass things at a young woman...who happened to be his sister. That spurred him to quit that job and swear off porn.
  • The gay republic of Proud Pink Sky inverts this norm: Used to being a construction worker in the straight world, Howard is appalled when he's catcalled and objectified by the women he works with.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of 30 Rock has Liz get accosted by a roadside worker, whose vulgar remarks are covered up by the sound of a jackhammer. Liz's response is also covered, except for when she says "Infected penis!"
  • An All in the Family episode has Gloria experiencing this, but things take a darker turn when the catcalling escalates to an Attempted Rape (all of which happens offscreen prior to the start of the episode).
  • On Charmed, Paige is dressed up and given a tray of baked goods in order to distract a group of construction workers. Piper makes a point of undoing an extra button on her blouse before sending her out.
  • Carla mentions that she was running late due to a prison work crew in the "Grease" episode of Cheers.
    Carla: Man, you should have heard some of those raunchy, sleazy, come-ons.
    Sam: Pretty bad, huh?
    Carla: Oh, yeah. I really outdid myself.
  • Used in an A Current Affair segment on a weight-loss treatment: reporter Brady Halls stated that not so long ago, this would never have happened to the women in question. The Chaser's War On Everything called them out for basically sending the message, "Get dieting now, ladies, here's your chance to be wolf-whistled by seedy men!"
  • Spoofed a couple of times in The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in regards to a video a woman made of herself getting catcalled all day. He had no idea so many men did that; he thought it was just "construction workers and cartoon wolves." He refers to it again when he compares it to Ted Cruz getting harassed in New York. "Even the construction workers are like "Hey, Ted Cruz! Show me that pretty smile, baby! (cue Cruz's infamous creepy smile) AAAAAAGH! NEVER MIND, NEVER MIND!"
  • On season 7 of Diff'rent Strokes, Mr. Drummond's new wife makes fun of him going out to a construction site (he's dressed as a construction worker), saying he'll be catcalling "Hey, chickie baby!". It made the opening credits montage.
  • On an episode of Dinosaurs, Earl's friend Roy Hess begins leering at a dino lady with a fully developed tail while on his lunch break.
  • On Get a Life, Chris starts hanging out with construction workers and learning their ways - as they catcall ladies walking by, he chimes in to one "Yeah! Eat that cheese, lady!" She walks up to him and knees him in the groin, to the great amusement of the others.
  • Full Frontal had a skit where construction workers don't pay any attention to a well-endowed woman walking past. It turns out to be an episode of Amazing Stories.
  • In Green Wing, Joanne walks back and forth past a group of workers, trying to grab their attention, each time acting more and more "sexy". She decides to flash them in the end.
  • Discussed in The Golden Girls. A practical joke forced Sophia to walk home naked except for a heavy coat. When the coat came open in front of a construction site, Sophia complains that no one whistled, and two men went home sick.
  • In Harry and Paul, Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield play the Posh Scaffolders, who alternate between leering Cockney perverts when women pass underneath and highly-cultured posh men in the absence of those women. Eventually, one woman calls them out for their crudeness and they're just as unhappy as she is, apparently thinking that being insulting to women from scaffolding is just their way of being friendly.
  • Doug tries to coerce some workers into doing this to Carrie on The King of Queens.
  • One episode of Mad About You has a Jamie reduced to a Modesty Towel going by a construction site and hearing "Hey mama! Nice cookies", which angers her and leads to an angry tirade... before she notices the mother of one of the workers, who brought cookies for the whole group.
  • Parodied in this MADtv (1995) sketch where the construction workers in question pay no attention to the women attempting to be catcalled.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: In the episode "Dirty Magazine", Malcolm (the editor of the school's literary magazine) publishes a beautiful short story about a woman who dies in a hit-and-run accident after failing to heed one construction worker's warning of the oncoming vehicle, since she learned to ignore their usual catcalls. Unfortunately, Malcolm gets in trouble because of one catcall filled with obscenities that he refused to remove or censor, and as punishment, the principal cancels all extracurricular activities until Malcolm removes the story. Malcolm does get rid of the story from the magazine... by publishing the story himself 20 feet outside of school grounds as required by the law.
  • The Neighborhood: Subverted in "Welcome to the Foos Box". Gemma sees construction workers working on the sidewalk next to the house and worries that they'll catcall her. When one of them comments on her "cans", she confronts him, but it turns out he meant that Gemma had dropped a pair of cans from her grocery bag. Gemma then gets depressed when they call her "Ma'am", and Dave goes out to confront them. They tell him that they had just gone through sensitivity training and do think Gemma is hot... too hot to have married him, in fact, which depresses Dave.
  • Lily Tomlin leads a seminar on how to Gender Flip the activity in a season 1 sketch of Saturday Night Live, with Dan Aykroyd as the target.
    • Another sketch had a bunch of construction workers doing this, but Daniel Craig's comments were all incredibly bizarre. His apparent Freudian Excuse is that his father, also a construction worker, was killed by a woman he catcalled at.
  • Jerry discusses this in his stand-up act in the Seinfeld pilot, when he talks about how men have no idea what women want. "Men know what men want, what do we want? We want women, that's it! It's the only thing we know for sure, it really is: we want women. How do we get them? Oh, we don't know 'bout that, we don't know. The next step after that we have no idea. This is why you see men honking car horns, yelling from construction sites. These are the best ideas we've had so far."
  • In the Sex and the City episode "The Drought", Miranda is frustrated because she hasn't had sex for months. Eventually, she confronts a catcalling construction worker:
    Worker: Where are you goin', doll? I got what you want. I got what you need.
    Miranda: You talking to me?
    Worker: We got a live one, boys.
    Miranda: You got what I want? You got what I need? Well, what I want is to get laid. What I need is to get laid. I need is to get laid!
    Worker: Take it easy, lady. I'm married.
    Miranda: All talk and no action, huh?
  • The 1990's Australian cop show Skirts had an episode called "Wolf Whistles" where women were getting annoyed at this trope and getting their own back. The female officers are less than sympathetic to the victims in this case.
  • Strong Medicine's Lu gets this and in true Straw Feminist style, tells them all off and asks them how they would feel if someone were talking to their wife/girlfriend/sister/daughter/mother like that.
  • Used in an episode of The Thin Blue Line, where the woman is Sergeant Patricia Dawkins and winds up getting so irritated she arrests the lot of them for harassment.
  • Dom Joly's Trigger Happy TV features a bunch of such construction workers hanging out on a scaffolding shouting dirty remarks at a woman. The funny bit is that the workers are all gorillas.
  • In the Ugly Betty episode "Queens For A Day'', Betty gets a few appreciative whistles and looks when she walks past some construction workers after her Makeover Montage. Betty, who doesn't usually get guys' attention, is delighted.
  • In Younger, Liza is riding a bike when a construction worker calls out "Wish I was that seat!" This distracts Liza so much that she crashes into a car.

  • South African singers Appel and Bok van Blerk parodies this theme in the video comedy song Limoene. note .note  In the video, van Blerk plays one of two zef delivery drivers, who make a nuisance of themselves while driving by leaning out of the windows and leering at passing women. They deliver to a greengrocers' run by a lady called Sally, who loses patience with their loutish attitude and reaches for a very big rifle.

    Print Media 
  • Subverted and parodied in MAD in one of Dave Berg's "The Lighter Side of..." strips. Two women angrily look back at a construction site they passed and complain that when they walked by, they did not hear one catcall or lewd comment.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • In a 2005 stand-up, comedian Lee Evans pointed out how ridiculous he found this trope (see page quote), and then added that that's how he thinks Tom Cruise manages to get women: by cat-calling them on top of a balcony in a sequence similar to Romeo and Juliet.
  • Eddie Izzard is perplexed as to why construction workers do this and considers what would happen if the woman actually approached them.

    Video Games 
  • Done by the construction worker ghosts in Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Oddly, even when no women are present and it's just the male Ghostbusters.
  • The "Deconstruction" mission of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has C.J.'s sister Kendl complaining about the people of a local construction site hassling her and calling her a hooker. C.J. takes this badly. Very badly. Smash up portables, chase the foreman into a port-a-potty, dump the port-a-potty into a pit, and bury him alive with concrete badly.
  • Parodied in Psychonauts; one Paper-Thin Disguise used by the G-Men of the Milkman Conspiracy level is that of a construction worker, and one of their lines is saying "Look at that woman's breasts. They are large," in their usual dull monotone.

    Web Animation 
  • asdfmovie11 has this subversion:
    Construction Worker: Hey baby, you lookin' fine!
    Actual Baby: [in similar gruff manly voice] Eyy thanks Jerry, you too.
  • Bad Days: Wonder Woman gets catcalls from construction workers the moment she transforms. She responds to the annoyance by taking them all out with her tiara.
  • Parodied in Mondo Media's Miss. Andry. In the titular heroine's tragic superhero origin story, two construction workers holler at a young Miss Andry's mother. They end up too Distracted by the Sexy and cause an accident at the nuclear power plant they're working at, killing the mother and one of the construction workers, the latter not even caring that he's dying since he's too busy ogling her breasts. The other construction worker gets radiation spilled on him in the same accident, becoming a mutant feline supervillain named Cat Call, who can no longer go two seconds without catcalling and laughing at his own jokes.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, there is an episode where three LEGO construction workers appear to be hitting on any woman that passes by and mocking everyone else. In truth, they are so socially inept that their sincere compliments come off as lecherous or mean—for instance calling one woman "sweetie" and another "cupcake" because they were literally a lollipop and a cupcake respectively. When Gumball tries to give them tips on how to be friendlier in their approach, it turns into the kind of lewd street harassment associated with construction workers and gets worse from there.
  • The episode "The Pipe of Doom" of Beavis and Butt-Head opens with this. Beavis and Butt-Head admire their ability to talk to women.
  • Parodied in the Cow and Chicken episode "Chicken Lips", where Chicken sees some female construction workers whistling at a muscular guy.
  • In The Fairly OddParents! special "Abra-Catastrophe", after Bippy the monkey wishes the Earth was ruled by apes and monkeys, a group of construction worker gorillas do this to a female gorilla walking past their site, hooting wildly.
    Lady Gorilla: [angrily shaking her fist] KNOCK IT OFF! What are you, a bunch of HUMANS?!
    Construction Gorilla: [offended] Hey! Who are you callin' a human?!
  • On Family Guy, Peter once mentioned working as a construction worker in a Cutaway Gag, but could never get the catcalls right, telling one woman "You suck!".
  • On King of the Hill episode "Square-Footed Monster" which is about Ted Wassonasong building a mansion within the main characters' block, Bobby and Joseph hang out with the construction workers, and they all make catcalls to a woman passing by.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, "Sonic Rainboom" has a scene where some pegasus construction workers gawp at Rarity's magically-granted butterfly wings.
  • The Simpsons:
    • On the episode "Today I Am a Clown", Homer gains a new talk show. We see some workers watching the show while on break, and as a lady walks by the site, one worker proceeds to hit on her. However, he's just recommending Homer's show.
    • Discussed in the episode "Brother From Another Series". Sideshow Bob is given a construction job on a dam by his brother and sarcastically asks if it will be his job to lead the "hooting". "Oh, yah! Shake it, madame! Capital knockers!"
  • On Transformers: Animated, the Constructicons like to do the nearest Transforming Mecha equivalent by catcalling at hot sports cars.