Making Misogyny a Hate Crime Should Be Universal -- & One City Shows Us Why

Here's a piece of news that makes perfectly logical sense: When misogyny is categorized as a hate crime, a lot more men are arrested for hate crimes. It's a lesson the police of Nottingham, England, learned fairly quickly: Ever since they started legally categorizing casual misogyny -- catcalls, physical advances, the usuals -- as hate crimes, they've been getting a lot more women reporting harassment. Which, like ... yes. Now they're sending the message to the rest of England, who are considering the re-categorization themselves after Nottingham's success.


Really, we're not sure if "success" is even the right word, but Nottingham did see a spike in reports of hate crimes via misogyny: Under the new system, police officers are investigating an instance of misogyny every three days, which is about equivalent to the number of reports for other hate crimes in their books. That's 20 investigations in two months, and on top of that, two men have been arrested because of the new rules.

Obviously, part of the reason hate crimes have risen is because more actions fall under the umbrella -- if catcalls didn't count before and now they do, there are going to be more hate crimes in the official count because there are more opportunities for them to happen. That makes sense.

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The other part of the reason for the spike in reported incidents should also make sense: Women are finally feeling like they're being heard. Suddenly, the higher powers are considering their complaints valid and actually taking them seriously. That's empowering, and the Nottingham police are seeing the direct result: More women speaking up about everyday incidents.

To be clear: By the new rule, all acts of misogyny are not automatically considered a crime. So, no, police can't arrest a guy for an aggressive text on the spot. But under the new system, they can investigate the incident further and offer legal support to women, just like they would for victims of other hate crimes.

The definition of "hate crime" that Nottingham is using is "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," according to the Guardian. When it comes to the misogyny rule, that looks like "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."

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In practice, we're talking about uninvited sexual advances, uninvited verbal contact, uninvited texts, uninvited photography, and verbal or physical abuse (though not domestic abuse -- that's dealt with separately). Plus, of course, whatever else men can come up with to derail a woman's day and/or cause her severe emotional trauma.

So, anyway. Nottingham tried this and saw lots and lots of reports, which made the rest of the country take notice. Now England and Wales are considering adding misogyny to their hate crime list as well, which is, by almost all accounts, good news for the women there. 

Some people have qualms with the specifics, but honestly, this seems less about cuffing every man who whistles at women on the street and more about legally backing the abuse women take daily just because they're women. So it's progress, even if it's not perfect. 

And clearly, it's working. We'll take it.


Image via Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock

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