There should be no limits

Ominous headline:

Scottish misogyny law must protect all women, says Helena Kennedy

On the one hand, duh, obviously it must. But this being now, of course on the other hand are we using “all women” to mean “including men”? We are, aren’t we. It wouldn’t be a news story otherwise.

There should be no limits of the types of women protected from hate crime says Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, as she begins her consideration of whether Scotland requires a standalone offence to tackle misogynist abuse.

Of course that’s right…unless by “types of women” you mean “especially men who call themselves women.” A man isn’t a type of woman. There are many types of rabbit, but a dog isn’t a type of rabbit. There are many types of tree, but a daffodil isn’t a tree.

Kennedy is immediately clear on how she would define the scope of specific protection she is charged with: “This is about hatred. Trans women, gay women, journalists, parliamentarians, all women get a whole lot of horrible stuff slung at them – disproportionately – and I’m not narrowing down those who receive it.”

Cute, but no. Trans women are men, and it’s not “narrowing down” the category “women” to say men are not women.

Describing it as an ambitious project to protect women, Kennedy and her six-person panel – “hand-picked by me” – have a year to resolve whether the creation of a standalone offence or adding sex to the list of other protected characteristics, such as race and religion, would better tackle misogynist abuse.

Why isn’t sex already a protected characteristic? I’ve never understood that.

The Scottish government’s own hate crime bill has attracted a huge amount of controversy and, while it was always the intention to examine this standalone option, the timing is far from ideal. As it stands, the bill that is passing through Holyrood criminalises, among other things, the stirring up of hatred against cross-dressing people, thereby protecting men who dress as women, but not the stirring up of hatred against women, while the decision on protections for women won’t be made until Kennedy’s working group reports back in 12 months’ time.

That’s how we know we’re women: we’re always an afterthought.

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