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Sexism and the Specter of the Arab/Muslim Man. The Case of the Law Against Sexism in Belgium

Publié le 11 novembre 2015 Mis à jour le 29 septembre 2023

12 novembre


Sarah Bracke
(Vrije Universiteit Brussel/Universiteit Gent)

Salle Henri Janne, Institut de Sociologie (15e étage), Bâtiment S
Avenue Jeanne, 44, 1050 Bruxelles

This paper is part of a larger project that investigates the ways in which questions of gender, sexual difference, and sexuality in Western Europe are impacted and (re)shaped by Europe’s “Muslim question”. In the presentation I explore this question through a particular case-study: the video Femme de la rue (2012), which documents catcalling in a migrant neighborhood in Brussels, and the ensuing public debate on sexual harassment in Belgium. This debate was haunted by the figure of the Arab/Muslim man and resulted in a new law criminalizing sexism (2014). The paper explores the redefinition of sexism as it occurs within this law and connects this shifting meaning of sexism to the “gendered governmentalization” of Islam (Amir-Moazami 2011) in Belgium.

Sarah Bracke is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Gender and Diversity (RHEA) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, and Associate Professor of Sociology at Ghent University. She holds a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies from Utrecht University, and held visiting appointments at UC Berkeley (Critical Theory), Harvard Divinity School (Women’s Studies in Religion Program) and Harvard University (Center for European Studies). She has written extensively about agency, subjectivity, gender, religion, secularism, and multiculturalism in Europe, and is currently completing a book manuscript on the turn to agency in the study of female piety as well as developing a new project entitled “(En)Gendering Europe’s Muslim Question”. She has also produced the documentary Pink Camouflage (2009) on the use of the rhetoric of LGBT rights within current civilizational geo-politics.