Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow (Photo by Nicola Tree/Getty Images)

Making misogyny a hate crime misses the point

Women need better application of the law, not new legislation from posturing MPs

Artillery Row

When Stella Creasy MP stood up in parliament last week and made the case for adding “misogyny” to the statute, many were left wondering which group of people it is she believes to be victims of misogyny. This is because, despite wielding her baby in parliament to highlight discrimination against mothers and making earnest entreaties to her fellow politicians to take violence against women seriously, the Walthamstow MP refuses to accept the definition of “women” as “adult human females”. Nor does the Fawcett Society, which has long supported her drive to make misogyny a hate crime. Both have abandoned biology in favour of the ideological line touted by Stonewall and its allies — that being a woman or man is a matter of identity.

Creasy first raised the issue of making misogyny a hate crime in 2018, which resulted in a consultation by the Law Commission. Since then, proposals to write misogyny into legislation have been floated at various points through the chambers of Westminster, only to be roundly rejected. In December, the Law Commission released its report which concluded that crimes such as domestic abuse and sexual violence are “already difficult to prosecute, and adding an extra layer of proof and complexity could worsen this”.

Experts describe the current situation as ‘the decriminalisation of rape’

The Law Commission is right to highlight the difficulty in securing prosecutions — according to the most recent statistics, 61,158 rapes were reported to the police in 202021, resulting in 1,557 prosecutions and a mere 1,109 convictions (1.8 per cent of the total reported to the police). Experts in the field have described the current situation as “the decriminalisation of rape”. Similarly, domestic abuse remains tough to prosecute. Last year a report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary found three-quarters of all domestic abuse cases — including sexual assaults — are closed early without the suspect being charged.

Given the continual trickle of revelations about sexism within the police, such figures are depressing but unsurprising. The government has acknowledged the problem; last year Mr Buckland, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Attorney General Michael Ellis admitted: “The vast majority of victims do not see the crime against them charged and reach a court — one in two victims withdraw from rape investigations… Victims of rape are being failed.”

These grim realities require investment and a system-wide overhaul, not new legislation. Of course, such dull administrative measures would provide fewer opportunities for ambitious politicians to posture. What is lacking are resources, and crucially trust between police and victims. Laws to protect women and girls already exist; they just need to be implemented.

Misogyny can’t be effectively criminalised any more than racism

It doesn’t require the insight of a politician to recognise that the men who rape and beat women are misogynists. But their worldview can’t be effectively criminalised any more than racism can, particularly not in a world where abuse of women in pornography is dismissed as harmless entertainment. Furthermore, the need to prove that behaviour was motivated by hatred of women adds an unnecessary hurdle to justice. As Rape Crisis England and Wales explains in its submission to Law Commission: “A hate crime framework may result in there being distinctions made between ‘misogynistic’ and ‘non-misogynistic’ crimes against women.”

It is worth bearing in mind that sexism is not some free-floating evil that infects men (and women) like a disease. Sexism is systemic. The gap between reality and reporting, and further gulfs between reporting, charge and prosecution, make it clear that every stage of the process works against women. Yet, like a turd that just won’t flush, Creasy insists upon championing variations on “misogyny as a hate crime” as if this will wash away the discrimination that’s etched into the process.

Last week whilst introducing her amendment, Creasy acknowledged some of the issues raised by the Law Commission before lightly brushing them aside, claiming that “making it an offence to harass or intimidate a person based on hostility to their sex or gender” would negate “all the concerns of the Law Commission”. Thankfully it seems others disagreed, and the amendment did not pass.

Increasing numbers of women are turning away from politicians

Creasy is one of a number of “feminist” MPs, who like leading “feminist” organisations, has been shown up by the resurgent, grassroots women’s movement. She claims to believe that a nebulous and indefinable group with feminine gender identities is at risk of violence, which is perpetrated by a nebulous and indefinable group with masculine gender identities. Arguably, woolly campaigns such as “making misogyny a hate crime” are attempts to stay relevant at a time when increasing numbers of women are turning away from politicians who lack the courage to acknowledge that females even exist as a sex.

As an aside, it is telling that Creasy and her compatriots tend to refer to “misogyny” not “sexism”. Misogyny can be dismissed as a few “bad apples”, whereas the structural concept of sexism forces a recognition that the problem stems from the roots of the tree.

The simplistic idea of “misogyny as a hate crime” has a base appeal. A little like the doomed ban on conversion therapy, it sounds good in theory but in practice could make it harder to solve the problem it claims to address. Virtue-signalling on social media is annoying, but when it risks being written into law, it’s dangerous. Ultimately, tinkering with hate crime legislation will do nothing to stop men’s violence, and politicians who refuse to define “women” shouldn’t be trusted to stand-up for them.

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