Maria Pettersson: F**k the Patriarchy
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28 November 2017

PERRRRRKELE!
Hundreds of Brusselians yell the Finnish curse word with devoted rolling R’s. And again!
PERRRRRKELE!

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.”

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Maria Pettersson

Maria Pettersson, 33, is a Finnish writer and MEP Miapetra Kumpula Natri’s special advisor. She curses fluently in ten languages and her favourite curse word in the English language is fucktrumpet.

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