The Belgian Singer Tackling Feminism
Balance Ton Quoi.
“Balance ton quoi” is a reference to the #metoo campaign in France.
Back in 2018 women in France were tweeting about the sexual assaults they were receiving from men on a regular basis at work or down the streets. The initial thread was called “Balance ton porc”. This slang expression translates to “denounce your agressor”, where the aggressor is being referred to as a “swine” or pig.
The Belgian artist, Angèle, didn’t want to use the word “porc” in her song and wanted something more general. She finally settled on “balance ton quoi” which could be translated as “denounce your what”. In this manner, the artist was able to allude to the original reference without being too obvious.
The first time I listened to the song, I didn’t pay much attention and thought it was a catchy pop mellow pop song.
As I listened to the lyrics more closely, I realised the dark humour of both the song and video. In the song itself, the author herself says:
“Yeah, radios won’t play my song because my words are not very pretty” (French original: Ouais, j’passerai pas à la radio parce que mes mots sont pas très beaux)
Anti-sexism is the theme of the video and is portrayed in such a charming way, that I really enjoyed the way she approached this ‘difficult’ subject.
The song starts off in a rather vulgar way. The opening line begins:
“They all speak like animals, of all the pussies”
Angèle appears as a teenage collector’s doll in a princess dress from a high fashion fairy tale Viktor & Rolf with the inscriptions “Go Fuck Yourself”, “Go fuck yourself” in English, inscribed in hearts.
The video progresses to an anti-sexist training centre for convicted sexists. Angèle is the psychologist-coach-therapist-group therapy educator who leads a therapeutic debate on sexual consent with the convicts. One convicts ask if women say no, do they really mean it? After Angèle firmly says no, the convict asks — what about if the woman is asleep? This lead to a row with another male convict. As the two men start to argue, a female convict politely intervenes. Despite being polite, the two men instantly agree that the woman is crazy and hysterical and needs to calm down.
Another pointed scene from the anti-sexism academy is when a row of underwear are pinned to a blackboard underneath each of which is written “RESPECT”. In another lesson, the convicts have to learn “how to spot sexism”. These final frames touch upon the gender wage gap, the mental charge women have to carry and the beauty standards women have to adhere to. The video concludes with the sexual convicts graduating from the academy and dancing around.
In an interview, the artist reveals that she was writing the song in the metro after an unpleasant encounter with a guy. As a woman, it can be so easy to approach this topic with anger, disgust and longing for justice — which is exactly what Angèle found herself doing. Rather than give in to these sentiments, she realised she needed to approach the topic in a more engaging way. With a groovy beat and catchy lyrics, the song itself is very hard to resist. The true definition of a bop while also having an important message behind it. Being a true voice of our generation, it is clear why Angèle is making big waves across Europe.