Femme de la Rue: Sexual Harassment In Belgium - Diversity In Action!
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.
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Sexism in the streets of Brussels