APPG Hate Crime Consultation Response
Below is the response Let a Woman Speak submitted to the APPG Hate Crime Consultation, information on which can be found here.
We believe misogyny is a hate crime. On the landing page for your consultation it provides examples of hate crime (sex, race, class etc.), all of which are characteristics covered by the Equalities Act. However, we feel the insidious, prevailing, every-day nature of hate crimes against women are largely ignored, and in many ways, these crimes are considered “acceptable” as part of life for women.
Hate speech and hate crimes are varied. At the lower end of the scale they start at what would be considered minor slurs on women, such as “bitch”, “slag” and the generally less-acceptable “cunt”. Recently, we have noticed a new slur, “terf” (trans exclusionary radical feminist), that is thrown at women who speak about the realities of their biological sex and the implications that their biology has for women and girls.
Other examples of hate crime against women include domestic violence (male on female crime is ridiculously high), rape, pornography and prostitution. In all of these examples, whilst males can be victims too, the victims are overwhelmingly female, and the perpetrators overwhelmingly male.
Impact, of course, varies by individuals, and can be relatively small, such as making changes to every day schedules to avoid going out alone after dark, walking along certain routes, forming alert systems with other female friends to ensure each female in a group has arrived safely home, avoiding a particular male customer, or changing the subject when in conversation with a sexist male colleague. Examples such as these are catalogued within the Everyday Sexism project and form a large part of what both many men and women consider “part of being female.”
Longer reaching impact includes issues with one’s body (which could be argued is so common now that it is also considered “part of being female”) that can become dysmorphia, eating disorders or self-harming; concern about identity online (due to trolling and sexual aggression from males towards females); issues with identity (wishing to not be female to escape oppression, objectification and sexualisation); relationships with others (being unable to trust); anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
Currently, we are noticing that there is an increasing divergence between the interests of two groups: women and transgender people. A conflict has arisen between the perceived rights of each group. Women wishing to assert their opinions about the erosion of their rights to sex-segregated spaces and activities find that they are being shut down with actions ranging from the slurs mentioned above through online “doxing” to physical assaults. It is notable that the main targets are invariably women who wish to debate; men who express actual transphobic views are rarely targeted with such viciousness. This suggests an underlying misogyny in the policing of women’s opinions.
There is a thread on the popular forum Mumsnet, primarily made up of female members, that asks the question as to how members’ mental health is impacted by the current trans-debate that requires women to deny their biological reality and associated experiences. The replies are telling:
Hate crimes against women impact community cohesion in a large way; in instances such as those outlined in the above thread, women regularly require “breaks” from conversation or activism involving hate crimes because of the impact on their mental health. Recognising the subjugation of women as a class under a patriarchal system is an incredibly difficult experience and women go through a variety of emotions that mimics the stages of grief. The “pro”, if it could be said there is one, is that women find themselves gravitating towards other women and forging strong bonds based on the hate crimes they have experienced. However, should the misogyny continue, women’s public participation could be at risk of being driven underground and some choose to withdraw from any interactions with males that they consider non-essential.
Women are already meeting in secret because they are afraid of being seen to be “gender critical” in public. Bomb threats have been made to some events (see Woman’s Place UK), and meetings are regularly protested. Women speakers have been threatened, harassed relentlessly on social media, their private information made public, and have been hounded out of their jobs - all because of their quiet insistence that they are women.
Women’s voices deserve to be heard, and this should go without saying. Male opinions are not the only opinions that matter. What is so dangerous about the concerns of women that they should not be voiced? Why is it overwhelmingly women who are being targeted because of their biology and not men?
Sex-segregated spaces need to be protected. Misogyny should be recognised as a hate crime. Women should be safe, feel heard, and respected. They should not feel like the inferior class due to a patriarchal society that does not value the work women do. That this is happening in first-world country in 2018 is astounding.
Let a Woman Speak (South West Feminists)