A while back a video project by a student from Brussels popped up on street harassment. In it, the female student walks a fifteen minute walk in Brussels and gets harassed eleven times. I won’t justify its existence by watching, posting or linking it here and I’ll tell you why.
In it, we only see men of colour, men of North African heritage. I can’t help but wonder if that is not the exact reason why it has been picked up by the media?
The only conversation this has actually started is that street harassment is caused by, what’s called in our Belgian media “immigrants”. And this is not the first time, when our media discussed the earth-shattering revelation of the fact that homophobia is all the rage on our streets the shift, again, was put on men of colour and how they are the bearer of all evil in our society. But clearly, it is not. White men take up more than fair share of street harassment to women and LGBTQ people. Every time I walk next to a male friend who is outspokenly gay I walk next to a group of young white men making offensive and shit dumb comments. I have been touched and groped by white men consistently, but I don’t need to tell you this. This conversation is of no importance to the media that has picked up this story, the importance here is vilifying people of colour.
White men need to start facing that they play a big, if not the biggest, part in alienating everyone around them, whether or not they have participated in such behaviour. You are part of it. I am part of it.
Let’s go back to the documentary again and say the diversity of the men featured in this particular documentary was accidental, and you know what, it probably was, but that doesn’t matter; intent often does not matter. The person behind this documentary should’ve thought about the implications of not featuring any white men within general anti-Islamic and more and more fervent racist attitudes around here. She should have known her documentary as is stands for nothing but those fifteen minutes of her life, and that is okay, but not okay as a stand against street harassment, not okay in the name of feminism. And I am not even going to start about the differences and the more extreme versions of street harassment that women of colour face here by white men and how those experiences are being completely erased in this discussion. But it is a huge deal that this is being erased; I’m just not the spokesperson for it.
All this to say, that I am all for battling street harassment but not when it takes this vile turn, not when it’s at other people’s expense, not when it practises an empty (white) pop feminism/social movement.
Lastly, just a heads up: if you look for the video expect vitriolic racism in the comments section and a little more subtle (though not really) racism in the articles!