Sexism: will it being classed as a hate crime dwindle the numbers of sexual assault?

It happened to me this morning on my way to university. I was standing at the bus stop, listening to my music and waiting for my bus, when another pulled in and off came the passengers. One man got off in amongst the few; he was shorter than the average height, and had to be in his late fifties early sixties. Despite the huge, empty space in front of me, he decided to walk into my personal space, his face no more than six inches from my breasts, and decided to have an eyeful and mutter something to himself. As I had my headphones in, I didn’t hear what he said. And to be honest, I don’t think I want to know what it was. But this wasn’t the first incident.

I was on holiday in August, in Disney World no less, when I caught a man watching me coming down the stairs. When he finally looked away from my breasts and made eye contact with me, he seemed flustered. He grabbed his children and brought their attention to a character artist in the corner, pretending he hadn’t just been inappropriate in front of his two sons.

This happens a lot, a stupid amount. So much so if I listed all the times I caught men looking at my breasts rather than my eyes when they spoke to me, or made a comment about what they’d do to me at the bottom of an Instagram picture, you’d think I was making it up. This kind of attention is not welcome, not wanted and certainly not right. But, I’m not the only woman who’s been through this.

According to the Independent, “the number of sexual offences reported to the police in England and Wales rose to 19 per cent to 129,000 in the year up to June 2017, according to the Office of National Statistics”. And that I can fully believe.

In our own poll we created on our Twitter yesterday, we asked followers what crime it was that they feared the most. You can see for yourself what the results were, and understandably so.

Even now women face objectification and sexualisation from men who think they have the right to do so. That a woman, despite what she wears is the possession of them, and therefore they’re allowed to wolf whistle, make inappropriate comments, or even grab handfuls of my arse because I “want it”.

So, when I heard that sexism could be treated as a hate crime, I could have jumped for joy. Because now it may finally be that men will treat me with the basic respect, just to prevent themselves being prosecuted for it. Although, my happiness was short lived when I remembered that times have changed, and people aren’t as scared of prosecution as they once were; and the necessity for human decency is something that needs to be taught and drummed into you at a young age, or it’s likely that you will lack the basic respect you should have when you hit adulthood. The sons of the man who had an eyeful in Florida, well, I fear for how they’ll turn out in adulthood.

Even though sexism would be considered a hate crime, I doubt it’ll do much good. If society still teaches their sons that women are meant to be seen and not heard; that they have their place and should know where it is; that they are the property of their brothers, fathers and husbands; and that they are sex objects regardless of what they wear, then women do not stand a chance. We can call for change as much as we like, we can make as many stands as we can in our lifetimes, we can all unite under the guise of feminism. But this is still going to happen until we teach our children to respect others for who they are rather than what genitals they have; regardless of whether we know them personally.

It’s hard enough to get rapists punished, let alone the odd stranger who yells “get your tits out, love!” from the top of scaffolding. And especially in the USA where their own president has made various comments about women and how you should treat them. “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the p*ssy. You can you anything.” It’s very concerning that a man like that is now in charge of a very powerful country. That his success is allowing many other men with a similar attitude to him to come out and feel allowed to do whatever they like.

Comedian, Lee Evans, made a valid point during his XL tour in 2005 that still, to this day, I find relevant and quote in daily conversation.

And so, I will leave you with that. That there is a possibility for change, but it’s not the law that’s going to make a difference. What will make a difference is just having the basic respect for others to not grab various parts of their body, or whistle at them like a dog, or make comments about the way that they look. There will be a change one day; but a law making sexism a hate crime certainly isn’t going to be much of a help for the time being at least.

But we’d love to know what you think about this. Do you think that this law will help? Or do you think that it won’t make much of a difference? Let us know on our Twitter or Facebook, and be sure to keep up with us on all our social medias and live blog to stay up to date with our goings on during crime week.

Cheltenham Council has shown it’s support of classing sexism as a hate crime, and will be hosting an event at the Pittville Pump rooms.


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