Trying To Date A Woman Is Not A Hate Crime

Last week, Nottinghamshire Police became the first police force in Britain to recognise misogyny as a hate crime.  This is the wording added to their list of hate crimes:

Misogyny hate crime, in addition to the general hate crime definition, may be understood as 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.

Nottinghamshire Police are recording incidents such as wolf whistling, street harassment, verbal abuse and taking photographs without consent within the hate crime definition.  It also includes unwanted sexual advances, uninvited physical or verbal contact and using mobile phones to send unwanted messages.

Apparently they started work on this in 2014 when there was a research project that led to a conference after which officers and staff have undergone misogyny hate crime training which includes “behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman”.

There are articles awash with quotes, primarily from women, about how great this advancement is.

I’m delighted that we are leading the way towards tackling misogyny in all its forms…. What women face, often on a daily basis, is absolutely unacceptable and can be extremely distressing.

– Chief Constable Sue Fish

Understanding this as a hate crime will help people to see the seriousness of these incidents and hopefully encourage more women to come forward and report offences.

Melanie Jeffs, centre manager at Nottingham Women’s Centre

What we are talking about is not trivial behaviour – some harassment that women and girls receive in public is upsetting and should have the attention of the authorities.

– Sarah Green, acting director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition

For non-regular readers, let me just tell you a little something about me.  I am terrified of women when there is even a slight amount of sex involved in that interaction.  I don’t mean intercourse either, I mean approaching a woman in a bar because they have an amazing smile because if things go well, at some point maybe in the distant future, sex might happen.  I’m terrified by the very fact that that advance might be unwanted.  Obviously there are other things called “rejection” and “embarrassment” but, hey, I’m used to those.

Even if I get signals from someone, I’m still terrified because I might be mis-reading something and will either upset the balance if I know said woman already or make that unwanted advance.

If you want to know more about my terror and lack of success, check out My Dating Apocalypse.

So the first thing this new law has done is ensure that I won’t be trying to date in Nottingham in the future!

My extra concern comes from a line quoted in The Telegraph from an unnamed “force spokesman”:

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.

Unwanted physical or verbal contact or engagement is defined as exactly that and so can cover wolf-whistling and other similar types of contact.

If the victim feels that this has happened because they are a woman then we will record it as a hate crime.

Unwanted verbal contact:

“Hey, how are you? I wondered if I could buy you that coffee.”

“Leave me alone or I’ll ring the police.”

Using mobile phones to send unwanted messages… Trying to save a relationship when someone won’t see you in person could now be a hate crime in the same way as murdering someone because of the colour of their skin.

Now, to all those who say I’m just being silly with that example, please show me where the new ways of working exclude that scenario.  The answer is that it doesn’t.  Criminal offence or not, that quote from Nottinghamshire Police leaves it open to being reality.  A 999 call for the offer of a date, possibly at the expense of domestic abuse or rape.  And what would that woman even expect the police to do in such a circumstance.

Before anyone says I’m being sexist, this another thing that does my head in about these new rules.  They assume that these things only happen to women.  The wording of the hate crime only talks about the attitude of men towards women.  Every news report talks about misogyny, as does Chief Constable Sue Fish.  Every quote is about the effect on women.  None of them mention misandry.  None of them mention that women whistle at men, women check out men, women grope men in bars and women are equally able to use cameras.

In fact, let’s go further.  Gay people, trans people, binary people, agender, gender queer… – they’re all capable of making a pass at someone else (and using cameras).

It’s with this sort of thing that I could be prone to open myself up to being called anti-feminist.  For the record, I’m not.  I’m not feminist either, I just believe in being a decent human being who recognises that society in general can oppress women but that equality should be for everyone.

However, even Janet Street-Porter says that women should be able to deal with this sort of thing themselves.  Street-Porter calls it “low-level unwanted attention”.

It feels wrong to say it, but if I expand this again, as a society we now have a belief that we should not, in any way, be offended by anyone.  Yes, I’m sure there are some purely misogynistic offences that fall under the hate crime bracket and which may well cause fear and offence, but this new idea is scoped so widely that it feels like mollycoddling and, not only that, it’s mollycoddling to protect women from men by a society that some feminists deem to be male.  #heforshe

The offensive and threatening side of these acts should already be dealt with by existing laws and guidelines.  I can’t find the official source of the quote but xinhuanet.com quote Chief Constable Fish as saying:

Misogynistic hate crime can cause significant distress to women, who have been known to face threats and in some cases sexual or physical abuse for turning down propositions.

Indeed, even Nottinghamshire’s own statement says that domestic abuse is not included within the scope of misogyny hate crime in this procedure as it is dealt with comprehensively within its own procedure.  Sexual or physical abuse should be dealt with by other means than making it a hate crime, in the same way it would be if the perpetrator was not a man and the victim was not a woman victimised purely for being a woman.

Nottinghamshire Police are saying that they’ll work with “common sense” but won’t “provide a list of acceptable or prohibited behaviour,” according to Hate Crime Manager David Alton as reported by Nottingham Post.

The other reason that I, as a man terrified of approaching women, don’t like this new way of working is that men don’t approach women because they hate them.  They don’t wolf-whistle because they hate women, or take photos of women because they hate them.  A straight male will approach a woman because she’s pretty, because she has a nice smile or a good arse or a great personality.  I’m not going to say that it’s the opposite of hate, but it’s certainly towards the other end of the scale.

That’s not being misogynistic either – every partnership on the planet has, at its inception, some sort of attraction of one party to another.

Unfortunately, by the very nature of me asking out a woman, such an approach is made precisely because the “victim” is a woman.  The point of a hate crime is that it is a crime already which is motivated by a bias or hatred or “hostility or prejudice towards any aspect of a person’s identity”.  Read that again.  It needs a pre-existing crime first, followed by motivation.  Without that, according to the Crown Prosecution Service, it is a “hate incident” but only that unnamed force spokesman pointed that out, while saying that it will be recorded as a hate crime anyway.

We should not be looking at the motivation and making a subsequent action criminal.

If Nottinghamshire Police’s definition does not require a crime to be committed, the flood gates could well and truly be opened, not just to complaints of wolf-whistles and unwanted pick-up lines, but to a lack of faith in the police who may need to tell a woman that they won’t be taking her complaint seriously.

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say.  David Alton, in the aforementioned Nottingham Post article, says that the guidelines will give the police the ability to deal with things appropriately that women find offensive.  He doesn’t say it needs to be a crime and there will be different ideas about what is appropriate.  Similarly, tracking and recording of such incidents may prove useful if done correctly.

I guess we’ll only see the full extent of the application and success of these new rules once they are used and enforced in real life scenarios.  For now, though, just know that I’m that little bit more terrified than I used to be!

Is it a sin, to love again?
I cannot win, this pain isn’t fair
And yes I walked across the highest mountain
And yes I painted you a pretty sky
Now you say its over

Forgot to tell you I am sorry
Never had the time to lie
Now its like a sad old story
Why do lovers always cry
I never had the time to worry
I never had the time to try
Now you say its over

Is it a sin, to love again?
You broke me in
This won’t repair

And yes I fell for you so madly deeply
And yes I want to hold you by my side
Now you say its over

Forgot to tell you I am sorry
Never had the time to lie
Now its like a sad old story
Why do lovers always cry
I never had the time to worry
I never had the time to try
Now you say its over
And now you say it’s over

And yes I want to tell you I am angry
And yes I need to look you in the eye
Cause you said its over

Forgot to tell you I am sorry
Never had the time to lie
Now its like a sad old story
Why do lovers always cry
I never had the time to worry
I never had the time to try
Now you say its over
Now you say its over
Now you say its over

Is it a sin, to love again?

Is It A Sin by Deepest Blue

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