It was widely reported in the Guardian that Nottinghamshire police are going to be investigating offensive wolf-whistling and similar behaviour as a hate crime with a view to make Nottingham a safer place for women. It is the first police force to classify sexism as a hate crime. There are presently five types of crime that police forces must record; race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and trans gender identity. I do however wonder if silly misogynistic behaviour should be categorised as a hate crime ?
Most women that I have spoken to might be irritated or perhaps even dare I say it be a little flattered to be wolf whistled but perhaps putting this sort of behaviour in the same category as race hatred may quite rightly raise a few eyebrows. We also have to remember that silly behaviour runs both ways and most people will remember the Coke advert where the female office workers are ogling the handsome half dressed male but I don’t think that many people would find this a hate crime that should be recorded by the police. It also concerns me that finite police resources will be diverted to recording this type of incident and away from dealing with more serious, harder to investigate offences.
As a society shouldn’t we all be of sufficient fortitude to shrug off silly irritating behaviour and is not a little bit of common sense required ? Without a doubt violence and intimidation against women is a serious problem that needs the full protection of the law and women’s centres do a fantastic job in supporting women and by endeavouring to change the general public’s views on certain types of behaviour I entirely agree with the quote from Sue Fish the chief constable that “what women face, often on a daily basis, is absolutely unacceptable and can be extremely distressing but I do however feel that serious incidents of harassment and intimidation are already quite adequately covered by Harassment legislation and the new laws on Controlling and Coercive behaviour and that perhaps this new initiative albeit is well meaning but misguided.”
Liz Ridgeway, Burton Copeland