ACT Human Rights Film Festival: ‘Chega de Fiu Fiu’ advocates expose catcalling culture in Brazil, advocates for intersectional feminism

Julia Trowbridge

Carvalho and Lemos are answering questions from the audience
After the screening of the documentary film “Chega de Fiu Fiu,” film subject Raquel Carvalho and director Amanda Kamanchek Lemos answer questions from the audience and by moderator Kris Barz Mendonça. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

A woman is raped every 11 minutes in Brazil.

This is why the documentary film “Chega de Fiu Fiu” (Portuguese for “No More Catcalling”) that screened at the ACT Human Rights Film Festival is so important for changing the current climate of sexual harassment, sexual assault and gender-based violence in Brazil.

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Inspired by Juliana de Faria’s “Chega de Fiu Fiu” campaign, which works to end gender-based abuse through things like creating a map where women can plot locations where they have personally experienced gender-based violence, this film explores the horrid nature of the treatment of women in the country and how campaigns, like “Chega de Fiu Fiu,” are combating this violence on women.

“The social movement is really important at this time, especially for human rights in Brazil, and in the US as well,” Amanda Kamanchek Lemos, director, said.

“Chega de Fiu Fiu” informs the viewer of the severity of gender-based violence by following three different women: Theresa Chavez, a white history teacher, Raquel Carvalho, a black woman studying nursing, and Rosa Luz, a transgender artist. As these women go through their day to day lives in different cities in Brazil, they discuss their constant fears and thoughts about their safety. Paralleling their stories, “Chega de Fiu Fiu” also features some scenes of productive roundtable dialogue of men’s views on harassment and undercovers footage of a woman simply walking down the street, providing an uncomfortable visual aide of the harassment and assault stories being told.

When a black woman is harassed, men are empowered to do anything because it’s less likely that someone will try to protect them.”-  Raquel Carvalho, on racism in harassment, paraphrased by Q&A moderator Kris Barz Mendonça

“The strongest thing (with the “Chega de Fiu Fiu” campaign) was the dialogue,” Lemos said. “Because of the map, women started talking about it, and we could write up all our voices, which is a great tool. And maybe, in June, we will have a specific law for harassment.”

Chavez, who bikes to commute to work, feels less safe while on her bike because it grabs the attention of men on the street. In the film, Chavez explains that the catcalling she experiences daily is not about her or her outfit, it’s just a man demonstrating to his friends that he can catcall.

Carvalho, who was raped by her uncle at 12, has to deal with the racism that comes with harassment. Black women have a higher chance of being harassed, assaulted or murdered, Carvalho explains in the film. For example, Carvalho never got the chance to talk to her mother about being assaulted by her uncle because her mother was stabbed seven times by her partner when trying to leave him.

During the Q&A after the film, Carvalho explained that deaths like her mothers are common.

“When they catcall a white women, they might still feel that something might happen to them, or the woman will say something back, or someone will protect the white woman, but when a black woman is harassed, men are empowered to do anything because it’s less likely that someone will try to protect them,” Q&A moderator Kris Barz Mendonça said, paraphrasing Carvalho who spoke to the audience in Portuguese. 

Luz used her art as a form of activism. One of her public displays featured in the film involved her taking off her shirt in public, not only raised awareness to the issue of how women are sexualized but also how the police couldn’t arrest her for her actions because the country didn’t recognize her gender at the time of her actions.

What “Chega de Fiu Fiu” brings to the table is the importance of intersectional feminism. As Jayla Hodge, an opinion columnist for The Collegian, put it: “feminism without intersectionality can be white supremacy.” It’s important that this movement includes women in marginalized groups and in countries with high numbers of gender-based violence. 

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Collegian reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules.