subscribe: Posts | Comments

Yes, misogyny is a hate crime

0 comments

Nottinghamshire Police, wolf-whistling, hate crime, misogynyIf you don’t think misogyny is a hate crime, then you’re probably part of the problem.

Earlier this month, as Women’s Views on News reported, Nottinghamshire Police became the first police force in England and Wales to record misogyny as a hate crime.

They define misogyny hate crime as: ‘Incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman, and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman.

‘Examples of this may include unwanted or uninvited sexual advances; physical or verbal assault; unwanted or uninvited physical or verbal contact or engagement; use of mobile devices to send unwanted or uninvited messages or take photographs without consent or permission.’

These are incidents that happen every day and everywhere, incidents that massively affect women and girls, and incidents that I – and so many others – dread every single time I – we – leave the house.

Police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland already monitor the following types of hate crime on an annual basis: disability; gender identity; race, ethnicity or nationality; religion, faith or belief; and sexual orientation.

To me, it makes perfect sense to add misogyny to this list, given that when we talk about discrimination and abuse we often refer to racism, homophobia, sexism, or transphobia.

For, exactly as the force’s Chief Constable, Sue Fish, said: “What women face, often on a daily basis, is absolutely unacceptable and can be extremely distressing.”

Quite frankly, I think this decision is long overdue, and while I strongly applaud Nottinghamshire Police for taking this step I believe that this should have been implemented throughout the UK a long time ago.

Unfortunately however, and partly as a result of the misleading headlines about Nottinghamshire Police’s decision, some of the reactions to what is in my opinion a fantastic piece of news have been frustrating – to say the least.

Contrary to what the mainstream media would have us believe, men are not going to start being given 10-year prison sentences for wolf-whistling at women in the street.

For a start, consider how lenient sentences often are for other crimes committed against women such as domestic violence.

But – somewhat unsurprisingly – there have been people exclaiming that it is a waste of police time and money and that police should be focusing on ‘serious crimes’.

Others have bemoaned the fact that society has become ‘too PC’ (politically correct), and described it as an attack on free speech (oh please…).

And incredulously, or perhaps not so, some women have defended the wolf-whistlers by claiming that they take it as a compliment and actually ‘enjoy the attention’.

Obviously, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but personally I’m running out of words to express how sick and tired I am of these kinds of narrow-minded and dismissive views about sexual harassment.

I really do wonder what it will take for people to universally acknowledge and understand that it is a very real and very serious problem, and that tackling it is fundamental to changing the way in which women and girls are viewed and treated in general.

The current ‘fourth wave’ of feminism has seen a renewed focus in recent years on sexism and misogyny, including the abuse and harassment that women face on a daily basis, often from complete strangers.

More and more women and girls are speaking out about their experiences and taking action to prevent it, with initiatives like the Everyday Sexism Project and Girls Against, for example.

Recording misogyny as a hate crime is a much-needed and positive step in the right direction, and has undeniably come about partly as a result of people raising awareness and campaigning about sexual harassment and assault.

The current state of affairs is also arguably worse than it’s ever been due to a number of factors including the rise of social media, which is why the law does need to start taking a stronger stand on the issue.

Just because these sorts of behaviour have been normalised for so long does not mean that it is not a crime or that we shouldn’t do anything to stop it.

Women are not being ‘over sensitive’ and society is not becoming ‘too politically correct’; things are getting worse and people aren’t prepared to put up with it anymore.

Simple.

It’s high time that we – not just women, but everyone – started calling this behaviour out for what it is, without feeling ashamed, scared, or like we are overreacting.

And people need to realise that while wolf-whistling and catcalling are in themselves a problem (and not a compliment) that needs to be wiped out, Nottinghamshire Police’s decision is about so much more than that.

It’s about women and girls being victimised, harassed, touched, shouted at, grabbed and leered at.

And most importantly, it’s about women reclaiming their independence, their safety, and their space in society.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *