Jess Bostock is a member of ‘Misogyny IS Hate’, a student led activist group working with Greater Manchester Citizens to improve the lived experience of women in the city through legislative equality. Jess presented her research on Misogyny hate crime in Greater Manchester in the GFGRG session ‘New and emerging research in gender and feminist geographies’ at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2019.
Twitter link for the campaign: https://twitter.com/misogynyishate?lang=en
Words by Jess Bostock
Manchester’s ‘Misogyny IS Hate’campaign began following Misogyny Hate Crime policy implementation in Nottingham, under Chief Constable Susannah Fish in 2016. Why is it important? What is misogyny? Implementation allows for police training to recognise and tackle crimes motivated by misogyny, as well as actions which legitimise women’s experiences by challenging the realities of gendered violence, such as through directed education for those displaying misogynistic behaviour (Citizens UK 2019). A two year post-implementation evaluation demonstrated overwhelming support for a national roll-out of the policy (Mullany and Trickett 2018) and MP Stella Creasy has advocated for misogyny to be made a hate crime nationally under the current upskirting bill in parliament.
Research on women’s experiences of misogyny in Greater Manchester
In a survey I conducted in 2019, with 520 respondents from within Greater Manchester (GM) and a further 232 nationally, 75% of respondents stated that they had been groped, 65% had been followed, and 83% had been harassed in a public place. The data also highlighted the intersectionality of misogyny as the experiences of BAME women, visibly religious women and older women were often rooted in their identity as women, as well as their race, religion or age. These results highlight the severity of misogyny with Greater Manchester and indicate how normalised misogyny is, considering its widespread nature. Respondents also highlighted key spaces and temporalities in which misogynistic instances occur. The most common spaces were workplaces and on public transport, often at night-time.
The proliferation of such lived experiences for women, and the lasting impacts these can have on their wellbeing, mental health and use of public spaces, highlights the need for Misogyny Hate Crime in Greater Manchester. In fact, 90% of survey respondents stated that they believe such a policy should be implemented.
Contributions of the research to national and local action
Through the ‘Misogyny IS Hate’ campaign I have had the opportunity to give a national voice to the experiences of the women who participated in my research; first at the Manchester Law Commission of England and Wales hearing of Hate Crime (Figure 1) and now through the inclusion of my research within the Citizen’s UK National Hate Crime report. However, whilst the national strategy awaits the Law Commission’s recommendation, we continue to strive for local change.
The research was presented to Supt. Rick Jackson Head of Hate Crime within Greater Manchester Police (Figure 2), to enable him to garner internal support for the legislation. In late 2019 Greater Manchester Combined Authority released a public consultation on Hate Crime, with the first question asking whether GM authorities should recognise hate against women and girls. At the GM Hate Crime Awareness Week Launch in February 2020 (Figure 3) the overwhelming support for the inclusion of this category was announced. This gives Greater Manchester authorities and the Chief Constable a unique opportunity to take the transformative step of recognising women are disportionately targeted due to their gender.
Misogyny is a complex issue, rooted in patriarchy, Othering and the systemic oppression of women and minority groups. Hate crime legislation is a key progression in a wider picture of tackling gender inequality. Criado-Perez (2019) argues that ‘whether unthinkingly or not, we just aren’t prioritising women’ and therefore live alongside an ‘endemic of sexual violence’ towards women in a ‘Misogynation’ (Bates, 2018). I argue that recognising the disproportionate threat and violence that women face, through the implementation of misogyny hate crime, is the first key step in tackling gender inequality of the 21st century.
As a campaign group, we hope to continue working closely with GM authorities to see Manchester take the lead on such an important issue for women once again, as the Suffragette City.
Bates, L. (2018) Misogynation: The True Scale of Sexism. London: Simon and Schuster.
Citizens UK (2019) Making misogyny a hate crime. Available at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW8jCOuuXWQ (Accessed: 9 February 2020)
Criado-Perez, Caroline (2019) Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men. London: Chatto & Windus.
Mullany, L and Tricket, L. (2018) Misogyny hate crime: new research reveals true scale of issue – and how the public are united against it. Available at: https://theconversation.com/misogyny-hate-crime-new-research-reveals-true-scale-of-issue-and-how-the-public-are-united-against-it-100265 (Accessed: 9 February 2020)
 The draft proposal of findings is due to be published in early 2020