Women are rising up – I think it is time for a revolt”
Myriam Leroy is a multi-award-winning writer, journalist, playwright and documentary filmmaker who does not shy away from sensitive or challenging topics.
“The common point of all my artistic projects is to jump with both feet into the taboos of our societies,” Leroy said, speaking ahead of her appearance at the 6th EU-China International Literary Festival.
Misogyny and the “hatred of women” are topics that anger her greatly and are often explored in her work.
“Nowhere in the world is there an adequate response to the hatred of women, that which is expressed online and offline,” she said.
“We have been living with it forever, and the institutions – the police, justice, politics, media – seem to consider that it could go on forever. But women are rising up, and protesting. I think it is time for a revolt.”
Leroy has channelled some of her own experiences into her creative writing, such as in her 2019 novel Les Yeux Rouge which was released in August 2019 by Editions du Seuil to huge critical acclaim.
“It is a psychological thriller inspired by my own story,” she said.
“It is about a woman who receives a message from a man on Facebook. He admires her, he listens to her on the radio – she is a journalist. And very quickly, he will harass her. This is a story written from the unique point of view of the narrator, who only regurgitates the filth that Denis and his ‘friends’ vomit on her.”
The author drew on her own traumatic experience to detail how she, a young journalist, was the victim of cyberstalking and extensive harassment. In the aftermath of the book’s publication the judiciary in Belgium initiated a criminal investigation into the harassment.
Leroy followed the novel up with #SalePute, a documentary she co-produced that highlighted violence against women on the internet and in a digital age.
“The novel Les Yeux Rouge shows what misogynistic harassment does to a person. The documentary #SalePute that I co-directed shows what misogynistic harassment does to society,” she said.
“How indifference to the issue silences women. We thought that with the Internet, everyone would have the right to speak out. However, it is those who scream the loudest who have taken all the space. This discourages many women from expressing themselves, online and offline.”
A highly versatile writer, Leroy’s first novel, Ariane, was a finalist for the Goncourt Prize for First Novel, while her first play, ChercheL’amour (Théâtre de la Toison d’Or), won her the best author award at the 2017 Critics’ Choice Awards.
She studied and taught journalism at the UCLouvain University and has worked as a journalist for all the major French-language Belgian media outlets, and she has often targeted these outlets in her humour columns and books.
Working on a number of projects, Leroy switches mediums to suit the topic she is currently tackling, she says.
“For example, I wrote a documentary play about the children of anonymous sperm donors, because I felt that this was the best way to ‘hear’ the subject,”she said.
“I think every project, every subject, summons its own medium.”