#NotACompliment, Misogyny and Hate Crimes

Did you know misogyny is not a hate crime? Hate crimes include racial and religious slurs, but not gendered.

The Crown Prosecution service defines hate incident as:

Any incident which the victim, or anyone else, thinks is based on someone’s prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender.

With #metoo and the more open discussion about omnipresent harassment, such that most of us are guilty of ignoring ‘minor’ incidences rather than acting on them, there is now growing pressure to make misogyny a hate crime.

This is not a new idea. Last year, there was a movement in England and Wales amongst police forces to treat misogyny as a hate crime after a successful trial scheme in Nottingham. That police force launched over 20 investigations in a two-month period with misogynist incidents ranging from verbal harassment to sexual assault. The police were able to charge suspects with public order offences and actual bodily harm, but not a hate crime.

The rise in hate crime since the Brexit vote has been saddening. There has been a 29% spike according to Home Office figures. Of these, 78% were linked to racial hatred, followed by hatred connected to sexual orientation (11%), religion (7%), disability (7%) and transgender identity (2%).

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Home Affairs Ed Davey MP said,

This disgraceful rise in hate crime demands a much stronger response from Government than we have seen. Hate has no part to play in our society and these figures should act as a wake-up call.

I find particularly distressing the 150% rise in hate crimes against disabled children in the last two years.  This is a shocking indictment of modern society.

There was welcome news in August about the CPS cracking down on online bullying and harassment. The Crown Prosecution Service will start treating hate crimes committed online as serious offences.

But it is not enough. What can we do? Stand up against hate crime in all its forms, whenever we observe it. Call it out.

And, an online petition is trending here on making misogyny a hate crime. For those sweet little words many of us put up with are #NotACompliment.


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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • OnceALibDem 26th Oct '17 - 3:30pm

    There is a problem with hate crimes that only certain types of crime (usually those affecting groups that have some political clout) are included in the strands. Something the Sophie Lancaster charity is very strong on trying to change. Sadly when I’ve looked into my local police force they are much slower at actually including additional strands in their reporting systems then their rhetoric likes to make out.

  • OnceALibDem 26th Oct '17 - 3:42pm

    Two practical (and complementary) things that can be done alongside this is to promote the use of resoures from the Sophie Lancaster Foundation and the also equally good but under-recognised Schools Consent Project in schools (not sure I can post links but Google should find them for you)

  • Lorenzo Cherin 26th Oct '17 - 10:52pm


    Not everyone in Nottingham, and I am based there, was as convinced about the experiment.

    It does indeed need to focus on real, hate, or we debase the word .

    It led to some being of the view on the farther fringes of the support for it, to categorise wolf whistles as harassment then harrassment means hate and therefore wolf whistles are thus a hate crime.

    We need hate to be the motive and the natural, or unnatural result in criminal action.

    We cannot as liberals and Liberal Democrats just rewrite common sense.

  • I dunno how you would criminalise some of this, but certainly unwanted sexualised attention causes distress. Virtually, every woman I’ve known has experienced some variant of that kind of thing and there is a lot of nasty behaviour on-line. However. it isn’t all driven by hate and in some cases it has more to do with uncouth oafishness than hate. Maybe the solution to some of it is putting up notices and introducing fines for bad behaviour or whatever to make the point that being an oaf in public is not acceptable.

  • Hate is an emotion, should Liberals approach things in a rational manner.

  • I agree it needs to be tackled. My experience is that women don’t report because 1) it is so widespread and 2) it is usually delivered in an “innocuous” way. Pleased to see the debate going but this is far wider and far more insidious and so simply putting everything together as hate, and criminalising things where it would be impossible to prove that the primary motivation was, in fact, hate is not going to resolve the problem. What is needed is education and for “minor” sexual assault to be treated with the seriousness it deserves.

  • I think some people are being a bit dismissive of the distress that can be caused by things like wolf whistles or unwanted comments. I’m less certain that they are always hate crimes and think that maybe we should treat them as public order offences. it’s a tricky one because hate is a big label to pin on someone and at the same time you don’t want to trivialise the distress caused. On the other hand some men hide nasty attitudes behind labels like “banter” to gloss over behaviour that is plainly designed to cause hurt and to intimidate, which is driven by hate.

  • I’m sorry, but the Crown Prosecution Service most emphatically does NOT define a hate crime as “…any incident which the victim, or anyone else, thinks is based on someone’s prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender.”

    Click on the link, and you’ll see that the full text begins… “A hate incident is….”, NOT “A hate crime is…”.

    You can’t turn an incident into a crime just by stating that you believe it was based on prejudice.

    That’s pretty fundamental.

    The last paragraph of the quoted section (“Hate Crime – What Is It?”) makes this perfectly clear:
    “Not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but those that do become hate crimes. The Association of Chief Police Officers and the CPS have agreed a common definition of hate crime: “Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.”

    There is also a very serious question about the whole concept that anyone can turn a crime into a hate crime just by claiming that the crime was based on prejudice.

    If my home is burgled, can that really become a hate crime and be punished more severely just because I believe that I was targetted because of my sexual orientation, regardless of whether there is any evidence to support my belief?

    Yes, according to the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Crown Prosecution Service. That really worries me.

  • Nonconformistradical 27th Oct '17 - 11:20am

    Perhaps people should look at the comment by Peter at 09:55 on 25 Oct to Ruth Bright’s ‘Just a joke’ posting – see https://www.libdemvoice.org/just-a-joke-love-55621.html

    As long as such ‘low-level abuse..’ is allowed to go on in our schools then pupils will continue to leave school under the impression that this is acceptable behaviour – when they should be leaving having taught to treat others around them with respect.

  • Nonconformistradical 27th Oct '17 - 11:27am

    Sorry – “having taught” -> “having been taught”

  • @Nonconformistradical & Glenn – Picking up on your points, and those Ruth expressed in her article, I think you are on the right track – there is a real danger of labelling everything we don’t approve of as an “xyz crime”, when in fact we should be setting expectations and standards, so that the teenage lads Ruth refers to, know that their behaviour is both socially unacceptable and demeaning to themselves and thus encourage them to police their behaviour themselves.

    Unfortunately, that will take time and be largely invisible to those who demand visible action now!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Oct '17 - 1:27pm

    It is extremely important that we do not have an extreme reaction or opinion with regard to those elements of behaviour that are not extreme, and concentrate on that which is.

    It is absurd to equate the wolf whistles with hate. I am sure this is not what the Nottingham police , who are excellent, had in mind , nor Kirsten, who is measured. But all areas of policy and debate can be taken over by people who are on the fringes by virtue , or today, virtue signalling , of opinions themselves divorced from reality.

    I would have more time and sympathy with this agenda if more people in politics woke up to the myriad of sensible laws we have already and the appalling leniency we see often hideous perpetrators of violence against person, often and regularly women the victims, the criminal getting a few years with a tv and nothing to do .

  • Kirsten Johnson 28th Oct '17 - 8:57am

    Thank you, Toby, post now updated to ‘incident’.

    Thank you all for reading and commenting. We must continue to debate this issue, calling out the many incidents which women put up with, some of which are, in my view, hate crimes.

  • Kirsten, thank you for responding so constructively.

    I think I should apologise if my original comment was more forceful that it need have been.

  • This is a very strange argument. Following up the correction by Toby Keynes (actually picking up a misrepresentation made by those who set up the petition), it shows the sloppy thinking around this.

    The petition claims that the police and CPS get to decide what is a crime. I may have missed the coup but I didn’t think North Korea had taken over the country. Parliament and the courts decide what can constitute a crime and then magistrates or judges and juries decide if any specific set of circumstances meet the criteria for a crime.

    The first thing that has to be established is that a crime has been committed, and then establish if hate was the motivator to act as an aggravating factor.

    An error in Kristen’s opening paragraphs, using a racial or religious slur is not automatically a hate crime. Aggressively shouting it in someone’s face would be, using it in conversation when talking to a friend in your garden, who has no objection to the use, would not be. First there must be a crime then the perception of specific motivation can change that to a hate crime.

    Personally, as a liberal, I find it a bad starting point to accept that policing thoughts is good idea, and even worse to rely on other perceptions as the basis for this. But even if you accept it, the position of those starting this petition (and presumably Kirsten) is to flip logic on its head.

    Rather than starting from the basis that an act was a crime then working forward, this approach takes someone feeling a negative emotion and looks retrofit intent and wrong doing.

  • As Nottinghamshire has been given as a supporting argument

    The reporting of the first stats out of the Nottinghamshire experiment only 36% were crimes and the remaining included events jokes and like name calling. This process would make people engaged in legal activity responsible for other people’s emotional state, effectively trying to legally enforce god manners.

    As Kristen points out assault and “verbal abuse” as the examples she is concerned with, I don’t understand the issue with those areas where a crime already exists (if assault is punished to the same extent does its label matter?). So I assume the desire is to create a mechanism for the punishment of jokes and being rude in any way that upsets women?

    If you wanted to argue for sex to be added to the existing lists then that would be in line with the existing system and logical, but that is not what is being argued for. It certainly raises questions about those supporting this petition. Though specific reasoning seems to still be thin on the ground.

    It’s funny how this idea has a lot of similarities with the excesses of the Blair governments legislative diarrhea of terrible laws because they were intended to “send a message” and they had a “feel good” appeal to the easily riled Daily Mail reader. Liberals used to oppose bad laws back then.

    Certain special interest groups have been lobbying for a move away from a justice system that looks to protect rights to a summary justice system. The mind-set remains the same but the label people choose to attach changes, I would hope Liberals would be able to see through this.

  • Nonconformistradical
    Thanks for the link to Ruth’s recent posting (as I haven’t been reading LDV much recently). As that piece doesn’t advocate such extreme responses that is worth a read first.

    As always needs to be pointed out with the comments about online behaviour (as the inaccurate assumptions never seem to end), it is not gendered (in either perpetrators or targets). To try and fix something it is best to try and accurately describe it.

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