At what point do we draw the line?
And when that line is crossed, what next?
What is a “Consultation” for? For those who think it is to test public opinion so that said opinion may be used to steer Government policy, you really haven’t been paying attention. A Consultation is an announcement to the activists that the end-game of this particular play is near at hand. The Government, and in this case the Law Commission, put the Con in Consultation.
Does anyone think that when the Government, under Theresa May as Home Secretary, called in September 2014 for “Consultation” on the proposed criminalisation of Coercive Control that this was anything other than a charade? I didn’t, even at the time, despite making a 100+ page submission (under J4MB cover).
Then there was the hilarious Consultation on the 2020 Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill. 80% to 83% of people who responded disagreed with the key proposals of the Bill, a fact that was raised by more than one member of the House of Lords during the Bill’s passage. What difference did it make? None.
These things are planned and prepared many years in advance. So it has been with the drive to make misogyny a crime within primary legislation. It has not suddenly popped up this year, or even since the 2018 Bracadale report. It probably first came to public notice in July 2016 when Sue Fish, after just three weeks in the job as Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire, announced that, “Nottinghamshire Police, in partnership with Nottingham Women’s Centre, has become the first force in the country to recognise misogyny as a hate crime.”
You may be puzzled. You should be. The police cannot simply create new crimes. That is the job of Parliament. Let me spell out how a pressure group can create new primary legislation from nothing.
You don’t start from now, you start from at least 6 years ago, probably much longer back than that. “You” in this case means Nottingham Women’s Centre. They started by woozling up a bit of advocacy “research” funded by Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner.
On the strength of that, Nottingham Women’s Centre inveigled Nottinghamshire Police into taking part in a series of Safer for Women Conferences where the coppers were regaled with suitably worrisome stories illustrating “the breadth of violence and intimidation that women experience on a daily basis” in the communities they police. This is Women’s Aid training the police. It is routine in the VAWG context. Nothing new here, move along.
But the real purpose of these training sessions is to “encourage more women to come forward and report offences”. They are not so foolish as to lobby immediately for primary legislation against misogyny. They prepare the ground first. The plan is to get data showing how huge is the problem of misogyny. But they, i.e., Women’s Aid, do not do this themselves; they get the police to do it. By this means it attains the aura of independence (no need to mention the police are merely Women’s Aid’s puppets). But even better, as police data, the “hate crime statistics” appear to be real crime data.
They are not, of course. Because the police cannot create new crimes. The term “hate crime” is used to conjure the impression of a statutory offence; it’s all part of the manipulation of perception and opinion. But the definition that Nottinghamshire Police adopted (and one can be certain where it came from), was,
A hate crime is simply any incident, which may or may not be deemed as a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hatred.
You may recall that in the CPS VAWG reports, Violence does not mean violence, Women does not mean women, and Girls does not mean girls. Similarly, the definition of the phrase “Hate Crime” implies neither hate nor any crime. Hate, of course, would be the state of mind of the supposed villain. But that’s irrelevant. It is only the perception of the alleged “victim” – or, indeed, some bystander – which matters in classifying “any incident” as a Hate Crime.
You see how that works? The definition casts the net as wide as possible. The sole purpose is to maximise the number of “incidents” recorded by the police as hate crimes. And a key part of the police training is that they must ask about the potential for any incident they attend having been motivated by “prejudice or hatred”. Your house was burgled? Could it have been motivated by hate, madam? Well it wasn’t motivated by love, I suppose.
In short, just as research may be woozled, so also police statistics can be woozled so long as you can get at them for a spot of “training”. The end result is an alarming picture of rampant male vileness, oppressing women and making women fearful as a matter of everyday routine – and the police have hard statistical evidence to prove it.
Following Nottinghamshire Police recognising misogyny as a hate crime (even though it isn’t) in July 2016, it was inevitable that other forces would follow suit. North Yorkshire was next in May 2017, pushed in that direction by Police & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, Julia Mulligan, and announced in March 2017 by Deputy Chief Constable for North Yorkshire, Lisa Winward.
Just as the Nottingham Women’s Centre was behind the move in that county, so in North Yorkshire there were also women’s organisations in the role of éminence grise, specifically the Sheffield Women’s Network and “women from York St John University“. Who the latter individuals might be I know not, but I note that, at the time, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of York St John University was Ann Margaret Green, CBE, and the Governor and Vice Chancellor of the University was Professor Karen Stanton.
I trust you are noting the sex of all the parties involved in setting up this system of sexist jurisprudential manipulation.
How did North Yorkshire define misogyny hate crime? By definition it can be committed only by a man or a boy, and the victim can only be a woman or a girl. The “offence” is any male person doing the following to any female person,
- unwanted or uninvited sexual advances;
- physical or verbal assault;
- unwanted or uninvited physical or verbal contact or engagement;
- sexually graphic and explicit obscene language;
- use of mobile devices to send unwanted or uninvited messages or take photographs without consent.
“Uninvited verbal contact” means a man is not permitted to speak to a woman until spoken to. As for uninvited electronic messages, that applies to virtually every email or text you ever receive.
Recall that this is a police invention, not a crime at all. Its purpose is to gather and record data to use to motivate later calls for primary legislation. Being an open invitation to regard anything as a hate crime is entirely deliberate.
Note also that, because it is an invention – essentially just some data gathering which the police choose to carry out – it is not subject to any equality restrictions. For this reason it can be done for just one sex, without any statistics on “misandry hate crimes” being gathered. (Not that men are socialised to recognise such things).
Seven of the 43 police forces in England and Wales now class misogyny as a hate crime.
And so to the present. Let’s take Scotland first as the Scottish Parliament currently has a Government-backed Hate Crime Bill progressing through its processes.
The background to this Bill was a review in 2018 by Lord Bracadale who was appointed by the Scottish Government to review hate crime legislation in Scotland and to consider whether existing laws represent the most effective approach for the justice system to deal with criminal conduct motivated by hatred, malice, ill-will or prejudice. On 31 May 2018 he published his review report and recommendations which included consolidation of hate crime legislation and the addition of gender and age hostility aggravations. However, the Scottish Government later explained that,
“While Lord Bracadale, in his review of hate crime legislation, recommended that gender should be added to hate crime law, leading women’s organisations were strongly opposed to this approach. They proposed a standalone offence on misogynistic harassment be developed, which the Scottish Government is committed to in principle. A working group will be established to take this forward and consider how the criminal justice system deals with misogyny, including whether there are gaps in the law that could be filled with a specific offence on misogynistic harassment.”
My understanding is that the Scottish Bill as it stands extends the hate crime legislation to cover hostility based on age, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, and “variations in sex characteristics”, but does not, as yet, cover sex or gender. However, it contains the stipulation that “Scottish Ministers may by regulations add the characteristic of sex to the list of characteristics”. This is a strange way of proceeding as it appears to bypass their Parliament on this issue. Taken literally, this Ministerial power would be confined to adding “sex” as the characteristic, not specifically the female sex, though I suppose the Act may be a hostage to fortune as regards Ministers taking liberties with the interpretation.
Turning now to England & Wales. Firstly, there is a misogyny Bill – the Hate Crime (Misogyny) Bill 2019-21 – currently scheduled for its 2nd reading in the Commons on 13th November 2020. As a private members Bill (brought by Wera Hobhouse MP, Lib Dem, Bath) it is unlikely to go far, but given the subject matter, one never knows. It needs watching.
However I shall concentrate here upon the Hate Crime “Consultation Paper” issued by the Law Commission on 23rd September 2020 (see also the summary report). This is more likely to be the prelude to primary legislation.
A Consultation might be expected (by those innocents not versed in the arts of political manipulation) to simply pose neutral questions for respondents to address, without biasing the likely responses in one direction or another. The Law Commission’s “Consultation” is far from that. It actually presents the case for making misogyny a hate crime. It is a wildly partisan political position statement, with a Con-Con-Consultation tagged on.
The word “misogyny” appears in the Consultation Paper 73 times. The word “misandry” appears just once.
A report commissioned by our old friends the Nottingham Women’s Centre was cited six times in the Consultation Paper, they liked it so much (Professor Louise Mullany and Dr. Loretta Trickett, Misogyny Hate Crime Evaluation Report, July 2018).
But the Law Commission’s favourite author was Hannah Mason-Bish of the Department of Sociology, University of Sussex. She got 27 citations, for such belters as , “Some men deeply hate women, and express that hatred freely: Examining victims’ experiences and perceptions of gendered hate crime” (published this year in the International Review of Victimology). The Abstract starts,
“Extensive debate about the place of gender within the hate-crime policy domain has been fuelled by national victimisation surveys indicating people’s experiences of ‘gender hate crime’ coupled with Nottinghamshire Police’s decision to begin categorising misogynistic street harassment as a form of hate crime.”
Bit of a common factor in evidence, isn’t there?
One of the repeatedly cited works of Hannah Mason-Bish was published in Feminist Criminology. I’m sure readers must be familiar with that august organ. Well, you certainly won’t be familiar with White Male Criminology.
It is difficult to convey the tenor of the Consultation Paper without quoting a great deal of it, so I’m afraid I’m going to. Sorry for the length, but bear in mind this is still just a selection of the 73 instances of “misogyny”. It is not just the content of these extracts which is revealing, but also the language used, which clearly emanates from the feminist lexicon…
An oft-cited concern with the current approach to combatting hate crime is the lack of acknowledgment of the intersectional nature of victims’ characteristics. By “intersectional” we mean the fact that some people experience multiple and overlapping forms of discrimination and abuse – for example, lesbian women may experience both misogyny and homophobia, and sometimes both at the same time.
We spoke to many advocates for the recognition of “misogyny” in hate crime laws. (There is no indication that they spoke to anyone who thought that the hate crime laws should not be extended at all, or done away with altogether).
…recognition of the nature of the problem, and the particular harms caused by hate, has led to police taking these incidents more seriously. This in turn often leads to better experiences for victims. The experiences of police recognising hate crime against sex workers in Merseyside, and more recently misogyny in Nottingham, were cited as particularly good examples of this….More broadly, as a result of recognition of hate crime, there is now a solid (if imperfect) data source from which trends can be monitored, and appropriate policy action taken. (This confirms their strategy: concentrate first on getting the police to collect data, then use this as ‘proof’ of a problem).
A number of organisations – notably Citizens UK and the Fawcett Society – as well as politicians such as Stella Creasy MP, have called for gender-based hate crime to be recognised in England and Wales. More specifically, their campaigns have advocated that “misogyny” – the hatred or dislike of women – be captured by hate crime laws. (Note how casually they slip in making dislike of women a crime).
Nottinghamshire Police Force was the first in the UK to record misogyny as a hate crime strand in 2016. Between April 2016 and March 2018, 174 women reported a wide range of misogyny hate crimes, from verbal abuse to sexual assault. 73 of these have been classified as hate crimes and 101 have been classified as hate incidents. (Oh dear, I expect they were hoping for a lot more than that in two years).
Discussing the street harassment that veiled Muslim women face, Irene Zempi and Hannah Mason-Bish emphasise its connection to misogyny (as well as Islamophobia). They cite Hawley Fogg-Davis, who observes that street harassment, like rape, is about “asserting male dominance over women in situations where women appear vulnerable” and that it indicates an imbalance of power, which is “connected to systems of patriarchy, racism and homophobia”.
Comments made by UK writer Danielle Dash, as part of Amnesty International’s online abuse research, noted that: the violence is at the intersection of everything that I am – for example – ‘I’m going to rape you, you black b*tch’. You have the misogyny, and you have the racism and you have the sexual violence all mixed up into one delicious stew of cesspit shit.
The Fawcett Society argued that all sexual and domestic abuse offences committed by men against women should be understood as inherently misogynistic.
The Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women argued that gender-based violence is rooted in factors “such as the ideology of men’s entitlement and privilege over women” and “the need to… assert male control or power”. However, the current test for hate crime – which focuses on hostility – does not capture wider prejudice. (In other words they want the misogyny crime law to be even more draconian).
Quoting E Renzetti, “Violent misogyny is a threat to half our population. We need to call it what it is: Terrorism” (November 2019): “For lay people, for law enforcement, they don’t really understand what ideology is. They don’t understand that patriarchy and misogyny are ideologies, are world views. They think they’re individual attitudes, and that’s very different.” (The irony of accusing others of being ideological is remarkable).
Under the heading “Question One: Should protection be limited to women only or be gender neutral?” we find the following paragraphs…
Current and former MPs including Stella Creasy, Dawn Butler, and Melanie Onn have called for the focus to be on women, either by using the word misogyny or other specific terms. Recently, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan stated that he would like to see “female gender” added to the list of protected characteristics. (I don’t expect readers are falling off their chairs in amazement).
Women’s Aid argued that “women” should be specifically recognised because a wider term such as “gender” fails to acknowledge that women are disproportionately the victims of abuse. Indeed, Women’s Aid suggested that the inclusion of a gender-neutral term in hate crime laws may be more harmful than helpful.
The Law Commission’s own view is expressed thus,
As we have outlined in detail above, there is one group, namely women, who clearly satisfy the first two criteria for hate crime recognition on the basis of sex or gender. Men do not – there was little evidence to suggest that criminal targeting against men based on hostility or prejudice towards their gender is prevalent or causes additional harm. This supports the view that women should be given specific gender-based hate crime protection. (Oh, yeah? For nearly 700 pages of institutionalised prejudice against men see The Empathy Gap).
We found that there is evidence that women are disproportionately targeted for certain crimes and found there was some evidence that this victimisation is based on prejudice, and hostility towards women. A notable part of this evidence was the abuse women face online. Nadim and Fladmoe recognise that women receive more specifically gendered online harassment compared to men. We highlighted that women are frequently the target of sexist and sexualised abuse on social media and noted this has been particularly prevalent among women in politics. They quote Guardian article “Diane Abbott more abused than any other MPs during election” (September 2017). This article is already too long to digress into that – I’ll just refer you to Glass Blind Spot.
But don’t worry, there is balance…there is that one mention of misandry, remember. It was taken from that very same Nottingham Women’s Centre Misogyny Hate Crime Evaluation Report. The quote reads,
‘A male respondent in the Nottinghamshire Evaluation suggested that gender-based hate crime reform would fail if it didn’t conform to formal equality: “I think it should include misandry as well. 100%. Absolutely… I don’t think it could ever succeed unless it was inclusive. It will absolutely fail if it only gives women protection and men not because that’s not equality before the law.”’
Do note how they mention that this was the opinion of a male respondent, as if to discredit it as an example of the very misogyny they battle against. There was no need to mention the sex of other contributors, such as those quoted above: all female.
And after the phrase “formal equality”, which the respondent did not actually use, they link to the 1966 paper in Ethics by D Lyons “The Weakness of Formal Equality”. For those not yet versed in the corruption of the concept of “equality” this is an allusion to the brave new view that “equality does not mean treating everyone the same”. It is now established in legal practice that equality may mean treating some people better, and our hapless male respondent is so behind the curve that he is unaware of this.
To sum up, the strategy to get misogyny made a crime in primary legislation consists of these steps,
- Woozle up some limited ‘research’ to give a preliminary indication of a problem;
- A local Women’s Aid group, or similar, trains the police;
- The police gather data to the prescription provided by the feminist group / feminist academics;
- Spread the above approach to other local areas, via feminist PCCs, Chief Constables, and local academics and Women’s Aid groups;
- Feminists in parliaments start raising the “need” for the new law;
- Governments commission reviews, with careful choice of reviewer (often under the auspices of a judicial body, e.g., the MOJ or the CPS)
- The combination of lobbying inside and outside of parliaments plus the “hard police statistics” and the Government’s own authoritative review, motivate calls for a Consultation. [Note how, as emphasised initially, the Consultation comes near the end of the process].
- Multiple feminist groups in the third sector, in academia and in parliaments, having been progressing this strategy for many years, are already very well prepared to respond to the Consultation which is dominated by their voice. Opposing voices are few, scattered, uncoordinated, unfunded, without friends in academia or politics or the mainstream media, and are unprepared when the Consulation is issued.
- The Westminster parliament, and the devolved parliaments/assemblies, are all dominated by feminists, or those too fearful of them to object, and the same is true of virtually all Government agencies, especially the MOJ, the CPS and the Law Commission.
The outcome is inevitable.
Those people who imagine the goal here is to have misandry included in any Hate Crime legislation have lost the plot. Do not imagine that anything is gained by making the Act gender-neutral so that it criminalises so-called hate on grounds of sex – rather than one sex in particular. There are two reasons why that is a colossal error, one moral and one practical.
Hate crimes are thought crimes. Such legislation is a crime against freedom – freedom of speech and freedom of opinion. Hate crimes are anathema, whatever so-called protected characteristics are their target. The objective must be to have them all removed from the statute book.
The practical reason against wanting misandry included under a sex-based hate law is that it would make virtually no difference. The law against Coercive Control is gender-neutral. So what? These are the statistics on convictions for coercive control.
In 2018 in England and Wales 499 men were tried for a principal charge of coercive control in an intimate relationship compared with just 10 women. 305 men were convicted compared with just one woman. 202 men went to prison. The one woman who was found guilty was given a community sentence.
Is this extreme gender-skew a genuine reflection of the rarity of coercive control of men by women? Anyone who thinks so must surely have been raised among a different species. Like virtually any subject you might care to name, the extreme gender-skew in coercive control prosecution/conviction data results from gynocentrism and prejudice, these psychosocial factors completely obliterating reality.
So they will again if a formally gender-neutral law is passed which defines a hate crime in terms of motivation by prejudice or hatred on grounds of sex. It will make little practical difference if the letter of the law is gender neutral. Actually, it might be better if it were explicitly a misogyny hate crime, because at least then the prejudice would be obvious.
Either way the result will be convictions of men under the new law, inevitably labelled as misogyny crimes, with negligible recognition of misandry – whether criminalised or not.
So, will this be a line crossed?
If so, what next?