You think there much difference between Sweden and Belgium these days? Think again, this is now the everyday life of a majority of European women living in the homelands that their ancestors fought for and built up with blood, sweet and tears.
This is treason and betrayal of the highest degree.
I am Sofie, a 25-year old girl living in Brussels. I moved here two years ago. I love Brussels’ theater, I love the chocolate and waffles, I love guys treating me like a slut all the time… Wait. What?!
That’s right. Guys talk to me on the street like I have a big sign on my head that says “Whore”. Even if I wear long trousers and a t-shirt, they find it appropriate to call me “baby”, “slut”, “doll” and other degrading names. They follow me around clicking their tongue and asking me where I live, if I’m married and how much it costs to have sex with them. It’s even worse when you wear a skirt or a dress. It can be the most innocent, knee-length flowery dress you can imagine: you are a whore and deserve to be treated that way. This name-calling happens all the time: I counted once, just for “fun”. In the fifteen minutes it took me to walk from my work to my appartement in the centre of Brussels, I was called names like this eleven (ELEVEN) times. That’s almost once a minute. It drives you crazy!
I started to find the phenomenon really frustrating, but I was also intrigued. Why do these men talk to me that way? Is this just a really bad way of flirting? Is it a form of racism; do they feel like all white, western women are whores? Is it something that I specifically do wrong? Apparently it is a problem for almost every young woman in Brussels.
Caroline (33): “Guys talk to me on the street all the time. They come really close and whisper degrading stuff in your ear. It is really intimidating sometimes. I think they want you to be scared of them, because that makes them feel powerful.”
Lisa (26): “It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve had someone spit in my face, just because I talk back.”
Zoë (30): “Even when they call you “baby”, it’s not a compliment. It’s really obvious that they don’t respect you. Only when my boyfriend accompanies me, can I walk on the street undisturbed. Apparently then I have rights.”
Karen (27): “I am called “whore” at least five times a day. I am not a woman who dresses slutty, or who backs down easily. But I really don’t feel respected or happy anymore. I was born in Brussels, but I decided to move away…”
I decided to make a documentary about such sexist behavoir on the streets of Brussels: ’Femme de la rue’ (’woman of the street’/’prostitute’) I am a Master student in Documentary at the Brussels filmschool RITS and this documentary will be my final film. I want to work with professionals and good quality material and this is the reason why I am still looking for 2000 euros. This money will go towards renting a good camera, working with a professional cameraman/editor, color grading and so on.
Sexism Racism in the streets of Brussels
Belgium film on street harassment strikes a chord across Europe
Angelique Chrisafis | The Guardian
When Sofie Peeters moved to Brussels for a film degree, she found herself confronted with a depressing problem almost every time she left her front door. Walking around her local neighbourhood, the mixed, working-class district of Anneessens, at any time of day she would be greeted with cat-calls, wolf-whistles and jeers of “slag” and “how much do you cost?”
Sick of wondering whether it was her fault for wearing particular clothes, she made her end of year film on the topic, armed with a hidden camera to record the street harassment.
Female acquaintances admitted the problem was so bad they never went out in a skirt, avoided the metro, never made eye contact with men, avoid walking certain streets, never wore shorts and in one case, only ever left their house by bike.
The student film, Femme de la Rue, a shocking account of everyday sexist insults in the street, is now at the centre of a political and social storm in Belgium and across its borders. After it was shown on TV and at a screening last week it has become an internet success and triggered a public debate.
Belgian politicians say they were already planning legislation to crack down on sexist insults and harassment, promising fines for offenders. French feminist groups seized on the film to highlight similar problems in France and break the taboo surrounding street harassment. In turn, Peeters has denied charges of racism as the film shows mainly jeers by men of immigrant north African origin.
In the film, she walks round her neighbourhood wearing jeans and a cardigan and then a knee-length summer dress and flat boots. A hidden camera shows that both times, men – from youths to groups of older men on cafe terraces – leer, cat-call and proposition her. She is called “whore”, “slut”, “bitch” and told that she looks up for sex. One man follows her saying she should come to his house or a hotel room. She says she gets this kind of comment eight to 10 times a day.
“The first question women ask is: ’Is it me? Is it something I have done, is it my clothes?’ But when I made this film I saw it wasn’t just me, lots of women have this problem,” Peeters told Belgian TV.
One woman in the film admits it’s “sad” but she always changes out of a skirt even to go round the corner. Others avoid public transport.
Peeters talks to a crowd of local young men of north African origin about how to stop the insults. They suggest she says she is married. Peeters said: “I was told, ’Come out with a man, your boyfriend and we’ll leave you alone.’ But that’s ridiculous. Women have the right to walk where they want.”
Read the full article at: theguardian.com