This week Sophie Peeters, a film student from France released a video called Femme De La Rue. In the film Sophie walks around her local neighbourhood in Brussels. For most of the film she is wearing a knee length summer dress and cowboy boots, and sometimes she is wearing a cardigan and a scarf. A hidden camera films her progress.She gets harassed. Repeatedly. Find that hard to believe? Well, there’s a wrinkle here:
Some controversy has flared up about the film, in particular because many of the men who harass Peeter’s in the film are of North African extraction, and Peeters is a white woman.Ah. Now the penny drops. But don’t think what you are thinking!
But for those of you, who think that this sort of harassment is unique to the streets of Brussels or a racial matter, you are mistaken.And Eva’s going to show you why:
I was shocked when I first saw the film but then I had to admit to myself that this was all too familiar. I have lived in London for most of my life, I am now 21 and for the last four years almost every day I have experienced harassment of this kind. When I was sixteen it was much the same as Peeters shows in her film… men asking me for my number or for a fuck, and the occasional a white van bibbing as they sped past.Hmm, how can you tell they are bibbing at you, Eva?
Whilst travelling on the tube in rush hour, with barely any room to breathe, I am forced to endure middle aged men standing close, asking for my name and not giving up until I am forced to leave the train before I have reached my stop.Really? My inner sceptic is coming out to play, here…
Last week at 5pm two men in a car followed me down a street nearly a mile long. At first the driver started slowing down, asking me relatively harmless questions like “Will you marry me?” to which I responded in my usual manner- I looked at the ground and kept silent. Then he became progressively more aggressive. He started to pull up and get out of his car, asking me for s88. He did this four times in total. Luckily, a friend of mine called me on my mobile phone and I made her stay on the phone to me till I reached my destination, trying my best to ignore the man pursuing me down the street.So….why no descriptions of the men?
I mean, you’ve shown how it’s not ‘unique to the streets of Brussels’, Eva, but you’ve studiously ignored the elephant in the room, haven’t you?
I guess we are entitled to draw our own conclusions as to why…