I completely understand why Nottingham police want to fight back against the street harassment of women, but I think we are treating the symptoms, not the causes. Additionally the medicine proposed by Nottingham Police is also toxic. It erodes civil liberties, misallocates police resources, reinforces victimhood culture, allows subjectivity into a domain where evidence is vital to justice, sexist and open to abuse by malicious women or pressure groups with an interest in exaggerating the scale of the problem.
What are the misogynistic hate crimes that Nottingham Police will record separately and make a “police matter”?
“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.”
- Staring at body parts (breasts)
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Unwanted physical or verbal contact
- Unwanted mobile phone messages
- Taking photos without consent
None of this is evidence based. It is all about subjective experiences, how the women feel.
Nor is it even about crimes. The mere recounting of an alleged incident will result in a recorded “hate” incident….
What are we to make of all this?
I really want us to solve this problem. I come from a family and culture where male respect for women and being a gentlemanliness are highly valued. Where I grew up, the abuse of women – verbally or physically – would earn any man a thorough hiding at the hands of other men. Merely swearing in front of women was considered an embarrassing lapse that might earn you a smack on the ear from an older male.
I am the father of two daughters and I want them to live in a safe, decent society free from harassment of any sort. I also want them to live in a free and fair society, not a nanny state where every human interaction needs to be policed and the mere feelings of a designated member of a “victim class”- entirely independent of evidence or objective standards – are sufficient to criminalise actions. Those feelings are also enough to classify any public encounter or incident as a “hate incident”, again unlinked to evidence, which will lead to a body of “evidence”, that will possibly derange public policy and policing.
We have the familiar cast of bunglers in this story. The state trying to shore up collapsing social mores with ham-fisted and discriminatory over-legislation and destruction of civil liberties. We have social worker-bureaucrats – like Nottingham’s “hate crime manager” David Alton- securing their jobs generating a growing list of hate-crime victim groups and classifications. We have pressure groups grinding their political axes.
My main gripe with this police reaction is that is addresses the symptoms not the causes. In Turkey, they understand this.
Women’s rights groups, lawyers and doctors have condemned Turkey’s decision to introduce a mandatory chemical castration programme for convicted sex offenders, arguing the treatment does not address the underlying reasons for widespread violence against women, and that bodily punishment will instead lead to increased abuse.
Özgül Kaptan, director of the Women’s Solidarity Foundation (Kadav), has condemned the law – which came into effect on 26 July, at a time of extended legislative powers – as misguided.
“It’s a very bad and dangerous decision,” she said. “The law reduces crimes related to sexual abuse and rape to the one offending individual and to that individual’s body, which disregards the systemic problem of why so many men in Turkey commit these crimes or are violent against women.
“Men are taught to think that they have a right over women. We need to change ideas about gender equality and masculinity. What we really need is a change of attitude, of education. That cannot be done by passing such a law, or overnight.” – The Guardian, “Chemical castration of sex offenders in Turkey condemned by women’s groups“, Monday 15th August 2016
The Turkish feminists have an unlikely ally, Rob Slane writing in Conservative Woman magazine. All emphases mine:
The other big problem with the statement itself is that it is so vaguely worded as to be essentially meaningless. It could include just about every attitude or example of behaviour men exhibit towards women (or should that be men exhibit towards woman?), and is thus at the mercy of entirely subjective definitions of what does and what doesn’t constitute a misogynistic hate crime. Does it include a man attempting to give up his seat for a woman on public transport? The definition is vague enough to include it if the lady in question perceives it to be demeaning.
Of course you might say that this is not the sort of thing Nottinghamshire police are talking about. What they are actually trying to address is real, low-level harassment that women in their area often face. What do you say to that then?
Simply that this is a hopelessly foolish way of dealing with it, and the method merely confirms that we took a wrong direction way back when. In the first instance, police forces continually complain about overstretch and of the need to free up resources. How does this woolly-worded initiative achieve this? It doesn’t. What it could end up doing, though, is forcing officers to spend their time investigating hundreds of low-level instances of harassment, and so missing the more serious incidents.
So how do you deal with incidents of low-level harassment? There are no quick fix answers to this, but the clue is to work out how we got here. How did we get to the stage where young boys today have immeasurably less respect for girls today than they would have had even 20 or 30 years ago? How did we get to the stage where multitudes of young men see females through the porn filter? How did we get to the stage where the chances of a woman finding a man who will be responsible and faithful to her are becoming less and less each year?
…Much of what are now being labelled “misogynistic hate crimes” are simply a consequence of the tearing up of the very relationships and social expectations that once required males to be respectful towards women. Yet having done it, we are surprised to see the outcome – a generation of males who are less respectful towards women. As C.S. Lewis put it, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
And so having torn up those relationships which were so vital, women must now apparently look to the State to step in and deal with the consequences. In the past, other men would have performed this function. A man who was seen to be hassling a woman would have been told in no uncertain terms by others in the community to quit it. And he would have quit it, knowing that the consequences of continuing were most unfavourable to him. Who will do that now? Those that might be prepared to do so know they run the risk of being beaten to a pulp.
The answer to the disrespect and unpleasant hassling of women is not to be found in yet more laws and more policing of such incidents. Instead it is in recognising that far from bringing liberty and a more civil society, the hacking away of the relationships and social boundaries mentioned above has largely destroyed the foundations from which true liberty and civil society can begin to flourish. Only when we have reconciled ourselves to this might we begin once again to see boys growing up into men who really do respect women.
I agree with Rob on this. We have gone badly wrong somewhere and the solution is not the police. It is cultural, political and educational. It is about values. Involving the police seldom helps and sometimes even inadvertently hurts:
Carceral solutions to structural problems have a tendency to have the most negative consequences for more marginalised people. They also tend to help marginalised people the least.
…What we are very likely to see with treating misogyny as a hate crime is that there could well be more arrests and prosecutions, but only under particular circumstances: when a Nice White Lady™ is victimised by a Nasty Black Or Brown Man™.
…It’s a repeated pattern in carceral solutions, and means that help will not go to the women who need it most because the police would rather come down hard on people that they already despise.
At the end of the day, the solution to misogyny is the same boring old thing that is the solution to everything else: societal change, starting with ourselves. Challenge it where you find it and nurture and embody alternatives, and support and believe survivors. The police are not, and have never been, the magic bullet for solving problems that they cannot even begin to solve.
Misogyny is misogyny, and the police have never been our salvation.
Another gripe I have is that many of these laws are unenforceable. The dreadful spate of sexual harassment crimes and rapes now plaguing Sweden show us that even with dozens of witnesses, stringent police attention and tokenism in the form of “Don’t Grope” bracelets, almost all the cases “were dropped due to lack of evidence or problems with identifying suspects.” These were large scale group molestations of young women and girls, even gang rapes, and the police are pretty much powerless. The culture of the perpetrators – in this case recent migrants to Sweden – is a key factor in the problem. The police are too overstretched and weak to protect women. Their powers and staffing are designed to manage a law-abiding culture where women are respected and safe. A sudden growth (through migration) in the numbers of men who do not share those values have overwhelmed them with dreadful consequences for Swedish women and girls.
We also have the now familiar discrimination against men we find so often in gender stories these days. Why does only the harassment of women count as a “hate incident”? This definition is sexist towards men by downgrading harassment against them, and prioritising crimes against women, even though men can and do experience harassment at the hands of women. Why not just expand the gender hate crime category if you have to, even if you know the victim split is 10 to 1. At least it does not actively discriminate against one gender.
The Nottingham police provisions also reinforce victimhood culture and the continued atrophying of our ability to conduct ourselves with agency and independence without needing to resort to authority to adjudicate every minor dispute:
We’re beginning a second transition of moral cultures. The first major transition happened in the 18th and 19th centuries when most Western societies moved away from cultures of honor (where people must earn honor and must therefore avenge insults on their own) to cultures of dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.
Campbell and Manning describe how this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized.
…The key idea is that the new moral culture of victimhood fosters “moral dependence” and an atrophying of the ability to handle small interpersonal matters on one’s own. At the same time that it weakens individuals, it creates a society of constant and intense moral conflict as people compete for status as victims or as defenders of victims.
I have other misgivings. The vague wording and muddled definitions are also based on notions that are inimical to legal justice. The idea that that feelings and pure subjectivity are sufficient to establish guilt. It is not. Evidence and objectivity are the cornerstones of justice. Granting powers of judgment exclusively to women, without any restraining requirements of evidence or even clear rules, creates a Judge Dredd like situation on the streets of Nottingham where all humans identifying as women are the judge and jury of any man they encounter.
As we have seen with false accusations and feminist abuses in Canada, malicious women abusing the legal system to persecute men is far from rare. These sorts of laws are wide open to abuse by miscreant women. Even the most ludicrous, paranoid, divorced-from-reality compulsive liar attention-seeker will have serious police attention, their incident added to the official register of “hate” incidents and some innocent man will suffer the all the trials of the falsely accused “hate” criminal.