Valkyrie in the Sky
Many women face the daily problem of being jeered at or greeted with cat-calls as they walk down the street.
The resulting footage paints a shocking picture of the sexism still being endured by many women today.
Wolf-whistled and faced with abuse and questions asking her for sex and ‘how much do you cost?’, Sofie Peeter’s film – which she submitted for her final student project – makes for a disturbing account of the everyday sexism on the streets of Brussels.
The Brussels film academy student used a hidden camera to record many of the scenes and also interviewed other students to learn more about their similar experiences.
But the film student who made the documentary says she is hopeful that it can have a positive impact upon reducing sexism and could ‘break the silence about the subject and open the dialogue for more mutual understanding and respect.’
Speaking on Belgian TV, she said: ‘These advances hurt me a lot and I had the feeling I was on my own.
‘Primarily, I would like to see that more women comprehend that they are not the only ones but, this affects a lot of women.’
She said that she received 70-80 testimonies by e-mail corroborating her experiences after putting a request on the internet for other women to get in touch.
Other testimonies from women in the film also back-up Peeters’ disturbing account.
‘It happens seldom that I walk in the street without anyone bothering me,’ said one woman in the film.
‘Walking down the street as a woman, you know that the street doesn’t belong to you.’
Whilst another said that she changed her walking route and appearance based on the abuse she anticipated.
‘I do take it seriously, I am scared. I change the way I dress, the way I walk and how I dress.’
Belgian politicians have responded to the film footage by saying legislation to crack-down on sexual harassment is already being considered.
Anyone needing proof should follow these steps:
1) Turn on a colour TV.
2) Relax, because you’ve done all the steps.
If this revelation causes even a hint of anxiety, please let me clarify. Australian TV is as sexist, ageist, fattist and teethist as it is racist. So let’s take solace in the fact that the country’s most popular medium does not discriminate in its discrimination.
Local content is beige, literally. Commercial and historical factors have conspired against a healthy representation of difference. Don’t take my word for it. I asked all of my ethnic friends in the TV industry and he said it’s racist, too.
The first non-white Australian I remember seeing on television was probably Kamahl. The second was former Test cricketer Greg Ritchie who, as his comedy character, put on blackface and dressed as a Punjabi Sikh called Mahatma Cote. Goodness gracious me. Thankfully, that stuff wouldn’t happen today.
Television is behind where Australia is at. If TV is a mirror of society, then the mirror is one of those square metal sheets that they put above the sink in public toilets. Sure, you might recognise the shape but the detail is distorted and looking at it can make you feel dirty.
Some suggest that if you want reality, look out the window. But my neighbour prefers it when I watch television.
Networks just give the public what it wants, or what they think it wants, or in the case of Channel Ten, what the board members want the public to want. They can’t help it if we have an Aryan appetite!
The websites of leading talent agencies show client lists that are overwhelmingly Anglo. We live in a Caucasian conspiracy. The entertainment industry is effectively whitewashed.
The bulk of Aussie programs are made by the same names who recycle familiar faces across rehashed formats. Time-poor producers reach into a trusty bag of recognisable talent. The TV industry is incestuous and try all you like, you can’t achieve diversity through incest (I looked it up, you’re not allowed to try).
Attempts at inclusiveness run the risk of being accused of tokenism.
Better to avoid the hassle of diversity and claim that the homogeneity of faces is the product of choosing ”the right people for the job”.
Instead of being spread across the schedule, ethnic diversity is restricted to individual programs. This makes watching an Aussie show with a melting-pot cast feel like you are engaging in a political act, no matter how enjoyable.