Canary Pete

A reader alerted me to a famous Belgian cartoonist’s response to Sophie Peeters’s documentary on street harassment of women.

She translated for me. The title is “More women get verbally harassed on the streets.” The cop is asking the woman, “What did the harasser look like?” She is replying, “Blue eyes, red nose, shabby clothes and not a complete set of teeth.”

Apparently the point is that she’s dressed like a whore and she’s enormous, while the guy she’s reporting to the cop is small and beaten to a pulp.

In other words, bitchez be lyin.


  1. Hertta says

    I think Ophelia’s original interpretation is correct. It’s an old trope. The handbag wielding woman claims she was harrassed. It’s funny, because she can’t have been. She’s old and fat and ugly! Hahaa! She thinks she’s attractive enough to get harrassed and to protect her virtue she violently attacks a man who ask her what time it is. So funny.

  2. says

    Oh yes that trope – the one that Abbie and “Scented Harmony” found so hilarious when the sexual harassment conversation got started. “Hahaha they don’t have to worry hahaha” – coz they so uggly, geddit.

    But of course when a place is assumed to be harassment-friendly then ugly women are considered an outrage for being there at all – pretty much as Abbie & Scentie implied. “Bitchez R ugly they should stay home.”

    Jessica Valenti on the upside of ugly:

  3. Ysanne says

    Looked like #1 and #2 to me. But it really could be both.
    I guess it’d help if some FBTer familiar with this cartoonist could give some background on his usual take on things?

  4. says

    Erm… it is complex.

    (disclaimer: I live in Brussels and I am originally from the southern, french speaking part of the country, the cartoonist is from the northern, Dutch speaking part of the country. Given the current political climate in our country, my views are inevitably going to be tainted by prejudice and resentment. Also, due to the language barrier, the culture of the two parts of our country have grown apart and my understanding of the flemish cultural conversation is going to be incomplete and slanted.)

    What has striken me first in this cartoon are the racist overtones. The prostitute is clearly identified as Belgian (lets call that the good old whore trope, who, though mocked as ridiculous and unwomanly, is considered independant, able to take care of herself and do not bother with political correctness) and she has beaten up that arab guy badly. Which I guess should elicit cheers from a good part of the population (north or south) The cartoonist went out of his way to clearly identify the foreigner as arab and muslim (cue the kippa-like headpiece) and this hints toward the “we critique islam/we are not racist” conversation that currently takes place in Flanders and the Netherlands (Dewinter/Wilders)

    So I think that’s the main point (though less in a “bitchez fight back” kind of way and more in a “let’s kick those foreigners out” kind of way.)

    There is also something more specifically belgian to it, I guess. Many people in the north seem to have a love/hate relationship with Brussels. They work everyday in the city but would have to be forced at gunpoint to live there. They seem to be attached to a certain lifestyle in small, tidy villages in the flemish countryside and Brussels (where 25% of the population identify as muslim, contrasted to less than 4% in the rest of the country) is a nightmarish vision for them and a troublesome place as they can’t just get rid of it. Hence the neat policeman who would rather let those whores and arabs tear each others throats than be bothered by their fuss.

    And then, yes, there is some background mysoginy (a good flemish girl would not have moved to Brussels) which, as we all know, is just always there, especially when the menz try to be funny. But I don’t think it is the main thrust of the cartoon.

    If there is someone from the north of the country who reads this, feel free to correct me/educate me if my take on this is widely off the mark.

  5. Hertta says

    Is the cartoon racist or is it accusing Peeters of racism? The latter makes more sense to me.

  6. sambarge says

    What has striken me first in this cartoon are the racist overtones….and she has beaten up that arab guy badly.

    I also saw the racism but I assumed the guy she beat up was Jewish (ie. wearing a yarmulke). Isn’t that odd? Perhaps it’s because I’ve been reading about Orthodox Jewish men harassing women on the street lately and I assumed the cartoon was a response to that?

  7. dumping says

    Not familiar with the cartoonist, but his style suggests he’s better with words than pictures. I happen to speak the same language, hence my lousy English. The joke would work quite well when it would be told. Preferable with the addition of “NOW he has…” to the woman’s text.

    With that in mind I see nothing of intended racism. (Try Neither do I think that the cartoonist intended to portray the woman as a whore. So I’ll go with #1 and #2.

    Why make it more complex than necessary?

    I wonder what one makes of the enormous weapon of the policeman…

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