Hundreds of Brusselians yell the Finnish curse word with devoted rolling R’s. And again!
Belgium’s first Feminist Curse Night is here. First of its kind outside Finland, where the concept was created by feminist think tank Hattu. They have organised nearly ten of these events in Finland, all very popular, and to honour the country’s centenary year, Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux and Beursschouwburg cultural centre have brought the concept to the very heart of Europe.
The idea behind Feminist Curse Nights is to let out steam built up by the patriarchy. When harassment, inequality, chauvinism and other vile stuff start to piss you off, it’s good to share your feelings with others.
The night begins with the pre-cursers. We get to hear, for instance, what type of reactions Beursschouwburg got for releasing a feminist programme. I let out a few cusses aimed towards the chauvinists of my work place, the European Parliament.
After the pre-cursers, it’s an open stage. Participants climb up one after another. An array of people from diverse backgrounds, nationalities, genders and generations, who share their experiences of living in a patriarchy. One describes how a father travelling with his family groped her in a night bus. Another tells a story of how unprofessionally job interviewers treated a female candidate. A third one tells about harassment and violence in the hands of a co-worker, a fourth one reads her poems, wherein she demands that women should have the freedom to walk in the streets in peace, and a fifth one performs stand-up about her pregnancy. One curser has flown here from Stockholm just to participate, and he talks about the women in his family.
The audience is elated. The club is so full that people who arrived last are standing in the draught lobby for two and a half hours. The atmosphere is safe and supportive, relaxed and even a bit raucous. Everyone is cheered, the jokes are being laughed at. In some parts tears dwell up as we all listen. Many in the audience know exactly what is being described as they’ve experienced it themselves.
When the cursing’s over, it’s time for stand-up comedian Jamie MacDonald to take the stage. MacDonald has organized feminist comedy nights in Finland and is instantly loved here in Brussels. The praise starts before the show is even over. We need more of this! Feminists Curse Nights must come to Spain! Can you bring it to Romania? What about Bulgaria? Greece would really benefit from this, can you do a tour in Greece? The director of Beursschouwburg mentions that he personally wishes the cursing nights would continue.
”Finland’s most important exports, cellulose and cursing feminists”, audience members joke after the night is over. They are not wrong. Equality and improving women’s rights have been objectives for Finnish foreign policy for a long time. Even though there is still much to improve, Finland is one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to equal rights. That is why people can expect us to initiate new overtures in the name of equality and feminism. This is known in Belgium, and after the curse night, also remembered.
A week after, a French speaking passer-by stops me at Trône metro station: ”Thank you for the evening, it was eye opening. Now when I see something unfair, I mumble to myself: Perkele. It helps.”
Blog post of January 2019: In 2018, the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux’s programme focused on Transition. In 2019, our theme is RE/definitions.
For some years now, I have tried to live my life with this principle in mind: because everything around us is constantly in transition, almost anything can become a reality. By this I mean our fears as well as opportunities, both the positive and negative ways of thinking about the future of our world. Personally, I would like to believe that we are capable of moving towards a better tomorrow, even if reality as filtered through our daily newsfeed often seems to contradict this.
Blog post of December 2018: How did you wake up this morning? Maybe to an alarm on your cell phone? What was your first thought? For many of us it’s “Can I sleep for another half hour?”. And, what was your last thought of the evening? Maybe you thought about whether you could watch just one more episode on your streaming service or whether it was really time for you to go to sleep. In fact, it is likely that these were the first and last risk management decisions of your day. Each of one us makes hundreds of risk management decisions whether we are at home, in our free time, or at work. Do you know the kinds of risks you are taking while navigating the digital world in our everyday life?
Blog post of June 2018: What if the future of music came from the Far North? There is no doubt that Nordic and Finnish musicians play an important role in the international music scene. Every category has a Nordic touch : vocal and instrumental music, metal, traditional and contemporary music, and jazz. Unlike here in the South, there are no fixed boundaries between musical languages in the North. Every musical genre finds its place between tradition and modernity, fusing into a fertile synergy without losing its own character. This is one of the cultural strengths of the Nordic countries.
Blog post of May 2018: For several years, this small international festival has been experimenting with new curatorial practices in a fierce and open way. The festival distinguishes itself by introducing co-curating, by politicising curatorship, and by rethinking the international. Baltic Circle hereby positions itself as a forerunner and is an ideal ground to visit with students who are themselves operating in the field of “expanding curation”. Three students, their tutor (Lara Staal, independent curator and publicist) and artistic director of DAS Theatre Barbara Van Lindt visited the festival and proposed some moments of exchange. In January we invited artistic director of the Festival Satu Herrala to visit us, and engage in a conversation where we reflected upon our visit (and already anticipated a next visit, in the autumn of 2018…)
Blog post of April 2018: Less than two months ago I moved from Tokyo to Brussels, straight into the heart of Europe and the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux’s great programming for 2018! We have our excellent previous Director Aleksi Malmberg to thank for carrying out the preparations for the start of the year, as well as our amazing team, with whom I now have the privilege of adding new initiatives and ideas to the programme.
Blog post of February 2018: “Okay, so there’s nothing here on the Sami people”, I noticed at the end of an introductory tour of the House of European History. I was visiting the relatively new House of European History at the beginning of February as part of a group of twenty odd individuals involved in the Remembering 1918 programme. Each one of us had the task that day of leading our own public tours of the House of European History. After the introductory tour, we were given a few hours to prepare to offer our own views on the museum’s exhibition which deals with European history.