Plenty of progressives in the U.K. and the United States are jazzed about Nottinghamshire Police’s decision to classify misogyny as a hate crime, making it the first county in Great Britain to do so.

This sounds like an important step forward. Who doesn’t want the streets to be safer for women?

Hold on a second. Wolf whistles are considered a hate crime? Immature and tasteless, sure, but a hate crime? It turns out police worked out the new policy over a period of years with the cooperation and input of Nottingham Women’s Centre.

As described by the Nottinghamshire Police themselves, it’s not only the attitude of the man that makes his actions a hate crime, but also the woman’s perception of his motivation:

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.

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.

Examples of this may include unwanted or uninvited sexual advances; physical or verbal assault; unwanted or uninvited physical or verbal contact or engagement; use of mobile devices to send unwanted or uninvited messages or take photographs without consent or permission.

Considering that President Obama himself recently declared that the motives of alleged Dallas cop killer Micah Johnson were “very hard to untangle,” determining a motive of prejudice or hatred toward women seems … problematic.

Meanwhile, Germany’s response to scores of reports of sexual assault by men of Arab or North African descent during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne led to the creation of a picture book showing immigrants and refugees how women should be treated. Hate crime? No, just a simple cultural misunderstanding.


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