As women, we’re confronted with unwelcome wolf whistles and catcalls on a daily basis, and the advice we’re given to deal with it? Ignore it. It’s unpleasant, but it’s normal.
Director Eléonore Pourriat’s short film Oppressed Majority portrays everyday sexism, but the protagonist, a parent taking their child to daycare, is in fact a man in a fictional matriarchal society. In the film, it is women who jog through the streets topless, piss in alley ways and heckle obscenities at the protagonist Pierre as he waits uncomfortably at a red light. Initially appearing humorous due to the reversal of the stereotypes, the film takes a more chilling turn when Pierre finds himself helpless against a gang of heckling women, and a victim of sexual assault. Bruised and ashamed, he is then intimidated by a sceptical policewoman and coolly unsympathetic wife, who blames his provocative choice of bermuda shorts and flip flops as ‘asking for it’.
By something as simple as reversing gender roles, Oppressed Majority reveals just how ridiculous our societies attitude is towards sexism and gender equality. The women’s carnal and callous behaviour is shocking to the viewer, but what shocks more is the way we are so willing to accept it as ‘normal’ when it is exercised by men each day.
The films triumphs in it’s multilayered portrayals of sexism; aside from the more overt scenes of sexual violence, the way Pierre anxiously pulls his shorts further down his leg when seated displays the constant level of awareness a woman must maintain to defend herself against the pervasive sexism within society. The film successfully captures just how claustrophobic and consuming it can feel for a woman, and the extent of the details she must always consider such as behaviour, posture and clothing.
Though filmed five years ago, Pourriat’s film has recently gone viral with 3.5 million views at the time of publication. In an age where gender equality, feminism and victim blaming are hot debates, the popularity of a film like this suggests the public are increasingly more willing to confront and discuss serious topics surrounding gender, and challenge what we regard as ‘normal’.
By Kitty Malton