Pretty Girl Pretty Eyes

Fredericton Videographer Tackles Issues Of Sexual Abuse In New Video

Fredericton-based videographer, Sophie Cormier, wants to talk about something that we’ve all been talking about. What the internet has been shouting about for months now: sexual abuse. But she wants to make sure you hear her, so she put it in a slam poetry video.

“I decided to do a slam poetry style video about that subject as it’s a big issue,” says Cormier, who wrote, composed, performed, filmed and edited the video with assistance from Zack Dickinson.

The video opens with statistics of sexual assault: “Of every 100 incidents of sexual assault, only 6 are reported to the police. 1 in 4 North American woman will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. Over 80% of sex crime victims are women.”

“Most people that I talk to are affected by sexual abuse, so I wanted to incorporate all of my artistic sides into one video and pushed myself for 24 hours to see what I could create,’ says Cormier.

“I understand that I can’t make a change in the problem but maybe by addressing it in this way this would be interesting. Walking the streets at night is usually terrifying for a woman.”

Cormier’s poem plays over video of a woman walking through downtown Fredericton at night, as the poem’s title ‘Pretty Girl Pretty Eyes’ gets repeated like an incessant catcall:

Pretty girl pretty eyes
I see you glaring over there there’s no surprise
The streets at nights are treacherous
They eat my skin like I’m their mistress

Pretty girl pretty eyes
She said the bricks on the walls hide stories

Closed mouth zip tied
These senseless stories will they ever be told
Or stay stale like bread on the kitchen table
Ripped up in pieces of blank paper in the hand of the behold
Dark stories raping my eyes from telephone poles
Lights shattering my vision and soul
Pretty girl pretty eyes are the ones I like to follow

Sometimes I get skeptical
She blames it on her optical
Or possibly the footstep in the white cold snow
I see that silhouette, that monster that follows
Pretty girl pretty eyes
She said
I said
I can barely breathe
It’s engaging my anxiety
Her heart feels tired, beating fast like a Montreal night scene

She wanders these dark coffee shops alleyways
In hopes of feeling innocent
In hopes of feeling the warmth from coffee pots dripping
The sound of people chattering
Why does she feel so frightened?
Why do I feel so worried?

The nights turn into gloom
For whom you’d assume?
The trees won’t try to save or Embrace me into obscurity
Branches are broken like that old record from centuries
Why can’t I see the problem
Why can’t she understand the problem?

Pretty girl pretty eyes stay absent from the streets at night.

Cormier explains she felt that rather than adding to the recent amount of news coverage the topic has received lately, giving the subject voice through story-telling would provide a fresh way of engaging people.

“[It’s] artistic delivery instead of a saggy ineffective article. A bit eerie as a video but, as a woman, I often feel like someone is following me at night.”

The Fredericton Police Force are currently reviewing how sexual assault allegations are classified, and Fredericton Police Chief Leanne Fitch is advocating for more training for officers so they can better understand memory recall for people who have been victims  of violent crimes.

Over the past year the arts and culture community in New Brunswick have also participated in Project Soundcheck, with several festivals attending training programs developed by the Sexual Assault Network in Ottawa to better insure the safety of festival-goers.