Recent reports that Nottinghamshire Police now classify misogyny as a hate crime have been praised by people on Twitter, as well as journalists, and feminists alike. Although it does not mean that instances of catcalling and wolf-whistling are now criminal offences, but it means that complaints of misogyny will now be taken seriously, with Nottinghamshire Police carrying out risk assessments and providing proper support like they would for victims of all other hate crimes.
For most of us, this decision has been a long time coming. But for those of you who are still having trouble placing your finger on why misogyny needs to be considered a hate crime, here’s a list of some (not all) of the reasons:
1. It legitimises complaints of catcalling.
Meaning that victims of sexual harassment, wolf-whistling and similar behaviour will be less likely to feel that their experiences are not valid, and more likely to come forward.
2. It reduces victim blaming.
Victims of misogyny will hopefully be less likely to think that they are to blame for the harassment they receive, thus helping to eliminate the blame culture surrounding actual criminal offences like sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape.
3. Being catcalled is degrading.
Whether it is a wolf-whistle or a comment about what you look like, being catcalled makes you want to do nothing more than to disappear into thin air.
Took all my confidence to not wear tights today. It’s been ruined in 5 seconds when some guys in a van called me fat. #everydaysexism
— Natty Beeks (@nattybeeks) July 19, 2016
4. It helps with statistics.
More people coming forward to report instances of catcalling, etc, will help build a more reliable and more representative source of statistics; statistics that will be helpful in the fight against misogyny and street harassment.
5. There will be an increase in support for victims.
Labelling misogyny a hate crime will mean that there will be a rise in support centres and resources for people who find themselves hurt by acts of wolf-whistling and catcalling.
6. Women need to stop feeling awkward or embarrassed about existing.
I can guarantee you that any woman of a certain age in the UK will have, at one point in her life, crossed over the road to avoid a group of people she assumes will catcall her. We need to stop this trend of women altering their behaviour to eliminate harassment, and get catcallers to alter theirs instead.
I love to walking, but street harassment makes me hate walking
— Ja’Von Ongele (@JaiTheLioness) July 20, 2016
7. The deterrent effect.
Probably the most basic of arguments, but making misogyny a hate crime will force people to think about what they are doing and lead to a decrease in these kinds of instances.
8. It gives people the confidence to shout back.
Twitter is often flooded with stories of women calling their harasser out on their actions, and with the law on their side hopefully now more people will feel strong enough to fight back against misogynistic comments more directly.
9. Catcalling is not a compliment.
You can spin it in any way you like, but being reduced to your legs, boobs or bum is not flattering. We do not need to, “Lighten up,” and it is most certainly not a joke. I doubt any of you need me to outline the arguments against the objectification of the female body to understand this one.
Catcalling is not a compliment.
Catcalling is not a compliment. Catcalling is not a compliment. Catcalling is not a compliment.
— ɑllie ɑdler (@_alliiee) July 20, 2016
10. We are not here for your entertainment.
Girls who get catcalled are not under any illusion that they are, “Special,” – everyone who has been wolf-whistled at knows that the majority of people do it for a laugh. But if the only person laughing is the catcaller, it is kind of an indication that the joke is not funny.
It is only a matter of time before the rest of the UK follows suit, and hopefully the wait will be a short one.