Tereza, Rosa, and Raquel: three women portrayed by Amanda Lemos and Fernanda Frazão, who, due to their diversity, have the power to represent the women of an entire country. The two directors, now at 32, had the idea of making a documentary when they saw the Map of Violence of the Chega de Fiu Fiu (No More Wolf-Whistling) campaign, launched in July 2013 by Juliana de Faria, creator of the feminist NGO Think Olga. The movie was thought of as a new way to discuss harassment and the relationship between genders in public places.
The survey shows that 98% of women have suffered harassment. “This is the data, but we know that all women have gone through it. This was a subject that annoyed me. I remember experiencing a lot of harassment, especially on my way to work, in my daily routine ... two, three times a day, in many ways. It bothered me, and made me very insecure. At the same time, I always enjoyed walking around the city, walking back home. I have been through several harassment situations in the subway, like feeling intimidated, guys telling me things, being followed down the street ...,” says Amanda. “Hence, I did not need empathy to understand what it was. I lived it.”
Both Amanda and Fernanda talked to bluevision during the Virada Sustentável Festival in São Paulo, which held a session for the exhibition of the documentary.
In the beginning, the idea was that Amanda, who worked for two years at UN Women, handled the content direction, and Fernanda, who already worked with photography and videos for women's magazines, took care of the artistic direction. During the process, however, they shared control and no longer know exactly who did what. Readings, researches, methodologies, insights, and personal experiences converged during the 4 years of preparation, filming, and editing of the feature film, the first in their career. The campaign launched on Catarse in 2014 to carry out the project reached its goal within 24 hours. By the end of the stipulated period, they had reached 322% of the initial value proposed. This gives an idea of the repressed demand on ways to debate the issue.
“When you see the research data, you feel that you're not alone, that it's not just you. I’m someone from the countryside, with a very different relationship to the city. I’m from São José do Rio Preto, and met Amanda when I moved to São Paulo, in 2011. My experience with public spaces is very different. There’s no subway, bus lines work differently, and most people have cars. In São Paulo, people walk a lot on the streets. But at the age of ten, when I underwent the first harassment, I felt the same thing Amanda did. A man showed me his dick on the street. It is the same for most women, right?” says Fernanda.
The intimate, personal, and public experiences awakened both women to the study that fueled the movie. Concerned with territorial, social, ethnic, and gender representation, the choice of characters was particularly comprehensive. Tereza Chaves is a middle-class woman from São Paulo, a history teacher who moves around the city by bicycle. Rosa Luz, a black and trans activist from Gama, Brasília, is a visual artist, rapper, and YouTuber – owner of the Barraco da Rosa TV channel. Raquel Carvalho is a black woman from Salvador, Bahia, who works as a manicure and lives a stable homosexual relationship. Thus, the overlapping of issues related to identities is guaranteed by the documentary, which also puts men to argue with each other about harassment and how it happens.
Fernanda explains that, while filming, she also wore camera glasses to catch abusive behavior. She had difficulties with it because, as she felt very nervous, she was shaking her head excessively, causing the images to be damaged. “At that moment, you are overwhelmed by several feelings. I felt so angry that I wanted to scream. I am different from Amanda; I yell at the guy. But I learned a lot, especially that having a dialog is very hard when you're angry. I think that this is one of the things that excites me the most about the movie: we were able to set a dialogue. People leave the session and talk.”
“The limit about how can I act has a lot to do with what I have as a personal tool. For instance, if a guy talks to me on the street, will I swear or will I say ‘Hey, I’m gonna report you’? Or will I not say anything, because that day I couldn’t say a word? I think that, for me, the greatest advantage was the assertiveness and the assurance that I am not to be blamed. This was my greatest learning experience. Likewise, when people see it today and say ‘oh, okay, I get it, I learned what harassment is’, I had the same reaction when I saw the campaign and my desire was that more people could feel it too,” says Amanda.
The product of this willingness to dialogue has already been exhibited in Mexico, Canada, France, and England, and can be seen in public sessions throughout Brazil. It can also be watched on the Philos and GNT channels platforms. For Fernanda, “there is power in it. My father finally understood what had happened. I could have said it a thousand times. When he watched, he understood what we were talking about. It is really touching. Audiovisual language can do this. In that sense, I feel very pleased. In my opinion, I do not think that I’ll be able to change the world by myself, to take men by their hands and teach them. I will not do that and I don't even think we should do it, because I too am sick of it.”
Theory of Change
Amanda explains that social changes require a deep process of reviewing and transforming beliefs, habits, and behaviors. Thoughts and attitudes have different degrees of depth and need to be understood in their context to be impacted. The Theory of Change is a methodology especially used by organizations that seeks to promote social impacts to create actions, plan, and monitor their evolution throughout the development of a campaign, for example. The origin of the methodology is inaccurate, but it is estimated that this work chain began in 1959 with the “Four-Level Training Evaluation Model”, by educator Donald Kirkpatrick.
“They are taught to treat and look at women as vulnerable and fragile, as sexual objects. When you understand the causes, you know that it will not be easy to change, because men have learned it their entire life, from their earliest years. I know that just a conversation will hardly have an impact. It takes campaigns, causes, indicators to follow, goals. It takes years of training and content until one can understand what you're talking about. The movie speeds up this process because it condenses experiences. It's a shortcut.”
Fernanda adds: “because when you wear your camera glasses and you’re facing a person who is harassing you, the viewer walks in your shoes. I know it's little, but it has a purpose. A physical one that transports you to another place, and this is very powerful.” The two directors agree on integrated solutions and on primarily investing in the formal education of boys and girls in school years. Separatist initiatives, such as a women-only wagons, should be seen as punctual and short-term actions, since gender violence is relational. On the streets, schools, universities, and professional environments, it’s not possible to keep men and women in secluded sections.
Although they are satisfied, the first movie is far from exhausting the debate. On the contrary, the experience opens the exploration to several other subjects that relate to harassment and the occupying of public places. “Men who have not seen the movie say ‘so, you don’t want to flirt anymore, then?’ And this has nothing to do with what we're talking about,” says Amanda. Aside from discussing sexuality in an upcoming feature film, deepening the issues raised by the body is among the issues that interest the duo. “[Our goal is] To enter a little more into the subject of the women's body and how we are shoved into so many patterns, how harmful that is, and how much it screws with our heads and how we must set ourselves free, even to explore sexuality in all its power. Having autonomy and seeing the body as a full-life instrument.” concludes Fernanda.