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Brussels artist and cyclist records song about street harassment

11:13 22/08/2019

A Brussels music artist has written a catchy but dark song about the street harassment that women in the capital experience on a routine basis.

The Youtube video of the song, written and recorded by Lydie Thonnard, garnered more than 2,000 views in the space of five days and sheds a humorous, but also unnerving light on the experiences of female cyclists in the capital.

Thonnard (pictured) sings: “Don’t whistle at me even if you’re cute. The fact that you like my clothes is no reason to be a jerk. So shut your mouth and don’t try to hit on me because this is not the way to make me end up in your arms.”

A Schaerbeek local, Thonnard wrote the song after being whistled at last Saturday while riding her bike and subsequently posted it La Schaerbeekoise, a Facebook group for neighbourhood residents.

Thonnard told RBTF that that experience of street harassment left her incredibly frustrated. “I didn’t say to myself: ‘I’m going to denounce something.’ I just told myself: ‘This is making me mad and I’m going to sing to blow off steam,’” she said. “But in the end, I thought to myself: ‘Oh, this is nice. I should do something with it.’”

Various members of the Facebook group subsequently contacted Thonnard to tell her it was a shame that the group’s settings meant the video could not be shared with other users. So the singer and music teacher decided to publicly share it on her own personal Facebook page.

According to a 2018 study from the University of Ghent street harassment is nearly endemic in Brussels, with 9 in 10 women having experienced some form of sexual harassment.

Photo courtesy Lydie Thonnard

Written by Linda A. Thompson