Misogyny Is A Hate Crime
Recently, Nottinghamshire Police recorded misogyny as a hate crime, and the reaction has of course been mixed.
The argument being, misogyny no longer exists and wolf whistling and catcalling doesn’t warrant calling the police when other more serious crimes may be occurring. With the woman who started the movement ironically getting misogynistic abuse online for highlighting the need to class this as a police issue.
This argument seems flawed from the outset, saying there is a limit to what can be classed as a crime or what can be labelled as a crime. Being splashed by a vehicle can be reported as a crime and is regularly thrown about as ‘common knowledge’, yet misogyny isn’t crime enough for some people?
Now we all know why, anyone can be splashed by a puddle by a moving car and see this as an inconvenience and unjust, but only women are on the receiving end of misogyny.
Men are socially trained to understand that the concept of catcalling and wolf-whistling is to express desire and appreciation of a women’s form, or is even in the more ridiculous arguments sake, being ‘friendly’ and saying ‘hi’.
But then why does this tend to mostly happen when men are in a group, or driving past in a car or while a woman is alone? Has anyone ever started a relationship, or even a friendly conversation that began with this form of interaction? I very much doubt it.
Street harassment is a representation of men intimidating women and reminding them that they own the rights to their bodies, and it is the embodiment of rape culture and patriarchy itself.
Street harassment takes many forms away from misogyny – with racist, transphobic and homophobic harassment very rightly being taken seriously as a police matter. So why is it that the specific oppression of women being harassed on the streets aren’t taken into account?
Because sexual interaction between men and women are too often defined by these very guidelines – from being grabbed in a club to being a victim of rape and expected to answer if you were drunk or wearing a short skirt. It’s ‘normal’ and men own women’s autonomy throughout society, because that’s how it is and that’s that.
It’s so ingrained into our society that some don’t see the problem with it, how else would you know someone likes you without being degraded and disrespected?
Other hate crimes seem to be mostly agreed as abhorrent in the more extreme cases, except for the very extreme and terrible offenders – but the clear, unashamed and very open harassment of women is seen as acceptable and not something that would often prompt another member of the public to turn round and say stop.
Now, I’m not suggesting here that harassment as a woman is at all worse than other hate crimes, but just that it is given equal gravitas as a police matter and throughout society.
Women, especially white heterosexual cis-gendered women, benefit in other parts of society from escaping intersectional oppression in various walks of life. However, this shouldn’t reduce the importance of highlighting misogyny as the hate crime it is, while working with other intertwined oppressed groups.
De juro change does not lead to de facto change, but it is a start of society accepting that misogyny is real and is a damaging element of today’s society. It is has not even reached police forces nationwide, and faced some public criticism but it’s a start.
If it reaches a point where in a group of men, one wolf-whistles a woman walking alone, and his friends shame him and berate him for it – this will be the most effective. As sadly, men won’t listen to women’s complaints, but will respect their peers.
Hopefully this is a step in the right direction, but the backlash to this police decision has dampened my hope on progression. Just as when reading a comment thread on any Daily Mail article, it makes me remember that a large portion of the population sadly just aren’t there yet.