Making misogynistic behaviour a criminal offence is unworkable, but highlighting it – as a trial in the Midlands has done – will cause attitudes to shift
We are going to have to start building more prisons. Huge ones for all the men who are going to be banged up for wolf-whistling. (God knows who is going to build them.) The knee-patters will have to be put away. The blokes who say: “Nice legs, want something between them?” when a woman walks past in the street. Sorry, men, that’s just the way it is. All these things you call flirting, “banter” or just showing appreciation will now come with a custodial sentence. This is what will happen if we make misogyny a hate crime. Or you would think so, by some of the outrageous reactions to the idea.
In Nottinghamshire, police have been trialling a scheme since 2016 that records misogynistic behaviour, which can be regarded as a hate crime or a hate incident depending on whether the behaviour is deemed criminal. Researchers are said to be shocked by the volume and the nature of incidents reported by those surveyed. Where have they been? Clearly, not out of the house.