Yesterday was International Women’s Day and female MPs marked the occasion by having a Commons debate about turning misogyny into a hate crime.
There was no talk of turning misandry (contempt for men) into a hate crime, an oversight which should get them all locked up in sexist jail, but never mind.
Scottish Nationalist MP Mhairi Black used the C-word five times to illustrate exactly the kind of abuse she gets online and in the post.
Recently, Diane Abbott did the same thing, although she was a little more polite than Mhairi — but who isn’t?
Stella Creasy wanged on about how awful it is being a woman on Twitter, while Grimsby MP Melanie Onn called for street harassment against women to be classified as a hate crime.
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The SNP's Mhairi Black (pictured in Westminster Hall today) became the first MP to use the C-word in Parliament - and read it out five times as she revealed the scale of abuse against her online
The Labour front-bencher is demanding a change in the law so that wolf-whistling, leering and sexual comments made in public are investigated by police.
Has anyone asked the police about this?
As many stretched forces don’t have the time to investigate burglaries and domestic robberies, I can’t see them getting enthusiastic about Merv the Perv wolf-whistling at a fruity girl he spotted in the High Street.
However, many women will be looking for a sprightly response to reports of upskirting, down-blousing and ‘whoopsadaisy is that the time’, and ‘my, you don’t get many of those to the pound’.
Two years ago, a pilot scheme by Nottinghamshire Police began treating misogynistic acts as hate crimes. Since enforcement began in 2016, there have been 167 reports of misogyny, including 68 that were treated as hate crimes and 99 which were considered hate incidents.
Diane Abbott (left) illustrated exactly the kind of abuse she gets online. Meanwhile Stella Creasy (right) wanged on about how awful it is being a woman on Twitter
Hate incidents! What the hell are they? Sending a flirty text? Some romantic hopeful telling a girl she looks a lot like his next girlfriend? The reports have led to four arrests and one criminal charge, although Notts Police are unable to confirm if the pilot has resulted in a single successful prosecution as the officer involved was not available.
Perhaps he (or she) was too busy trying to arrest men accused of giving women ‘funny looks’ on the bus.
The Force has submitted a report on the scheme to the National Police Chiefs’ Council and is awaiting feedback on whether it will be rolled out nationwide.
In the meantime, movements such as Time’s Up and #MeToo have proved that many men are beasts who’ll behave in a beastly fashion given half a chance.
In fact, more women reporting more incidents of harassment and more police officers taking them seriously is a very good thing, be it in Nottingham or in Hollywood.
It’s utterly unacceptable for men to think they can go around inappropriately touching women, leering at them or frightening them without expecting official reprimand and punishment.
But while such behaviour is boorish, sexist, bullying and sometimes even illegal, I feel uneasy about it being rebranded as a hate crime.
After all, what isn’t a hate crime these days?
Raise a tiny voice of dissent, make a criticism about something or someone held dear by professional liberals, express a viewpoint that does not precisely coalesce with their fashionable, metropolitan Left-wing thinking and you will instantly be accused of being a criminal, a peddler of hate. Recently, I was accused of a race hate crime for suggesting that Meghan Markle, as lovely as she is, could dial down her showbizzy tendencies, just a notch.
Surely MPs ought to be taking Twitter and Facebook to task, instead of trying to criminalise the tragic behaviour of men sending texts from their mum’s house before having a fried egg in front of Countdown’s phwooaar, Rachel Riley (pictured)
An Edinburgh law student who ridiculed ISIS was told he had committed a hate crime. A teacher who ‘misgendered’ a transgender child was accused of committing a hate crime. Anyone raising concerns about mass immigration is immediately a racist, full of hate.
All this is a nonsense, diminishing the impact of real hate crimes.
Police define misogynistic hate crimes as ‘incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman’.
But how can we get evidence which will show, beyond reasonable doubt, that these crimes were motivated by misogyny?
It requires the law to be a mind-reader, to see what is going on inside Merv the Perv’s tiny brain. Indeed, he could surely quite feasibly argue that he was motivated by love, not hatred, of women.
I believe that men are finally getting the message that women should be able to go about their daily lives without being bothered by sweaty creeps. But, above all, I believe in justice, not in telepathy.
These female MPs fighting to get another type of hate crime on the statute books may be wonderful public servants, but there is something wincing and rather self-aggrandising about them reading aloud the depths of their abuse in Parliament.
Surely they ought to be taking Twitter and Facebook to task, instead of trying to criminalise the tragic behaviour of men sending vile texts from the bedroom of their mum’s house before having a fried egg for lunch in front of Countdown’s phwooaar, Rachel Riley.
The sad truth is that every woman in public life gets this kind of unwanted attention, be she fat, slim, gorgeous, plug-faced or me. And so do men.
Being online makes it all too easy for these basketcase deplorables to do their worst — and the only answer is to ignore them.
Helen's all dressed up, nowhere to go
Former Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton has been axed from the swimming commentary team for next month’s Commonwealth Games, supposedly for wearing skimpy dresses while presenting the Rio Olympics.
What? Poolside in Australia, what was she meant to wear? An Amish pinafore?
I always thought she looked lovely. Yes, she did seem dressed for a cocktail party rather than a sports coverage gig, but so what?
Helen’s real crime was behaving like she was at a cocktail party, which is different altogether.
Miss Skelton has unexpectedly missed out on the Commonwealth Games in Australia next month - sources close to the mother-of-two said she was ‘sad’ about the decision
The former Blue Peter presenter has been a mainstay of the Corporation’s swimming coverage over the past few years
All her screaming and laughing with competitors and co-presenters Rebecca Adlington and Mark Foster? Honestly, I couldn’t face that again, no matter how pretty her frocks might be.
Sports commentary is not a popularity contest. It is about lucid, fluent expertise — or rather it was.
‘Two girls in the final. Gotta be good, right?’ said Helen in Rio, sounding as though she was back on Blue Peter.
While she might be missing, guess which ubiquitous presenter, who has just finished the Winter Olympics in South Korea, will yet again be at the forefront of the Beeb’s coverage of this fiesta of sport?
Is it Clare Balding, C. Balding or Balding, Clare? I think we know the answer.
News just in. My unreconstructed darling has just phoned to comment on the Helen Skelton story.
‘Surely they are not sacking that lovely young girl for being lovely?’ he wonders.
This from the man who always shouts hopefully from the kitchen ‘Has Emily got her boots on tonight?’ when Newsnight is on. No, I don’t know what to do with him either.
As a daredevil Blue Peter presenter, Helen Skelton walked a 500ft-long high wire at Battersea Power Station in London, ran 78 miles across the Namibian desert and was at one point covered in bees
Casualty with kindness
This week has been one of the worst on record for accident and emergency departments. Not a good week to have to call an ambulance, you might think, but that was not my experience on Tuesday morning.
An elderly woman called Mary collapsed in front of me in London’s Marylebone High Street.
We called an ambulance and helped her onto one of the seats outside Providores restaurant.
The kindly owner, Michael, brought out water and hot drinks for everyone, no charge. The ambulance arrived within ten minutes and the paramedic couldn’t have been cheerier or lovelier.
‘You fainted in Waitrose? I’m not surprised, given the prices in there,’ he said, while expertly assessing Mary’s injuries. Then he gently wheeled her into the ambulance, promising a glass of champagne from his cocktail bar inside.
Sometimes things are bad in this country. But sometimes they are pretty great, too.
Time's up... for luvvies
Attention Hollywood! After this week’s Oscars, the awards season is officially over for another year. Thank God!
Now it’s time to pack away the big dresses, put your giant egos into storage and go off and take a long hard look at yourself — because we are all mightily sick of you.
Sick of you behaving like victims, when you are actually the luckiest and most privileged people on the planet, blessed with good looks, talent and wealth beyond the wildest dreams of millions.
Hollywood stars such as Jennifer Lawrence are apt to complain when they is not much to protest about
Sick of you being publicly and flamboyantly appalled by moguls such as Harvey Weinstein, when you knew all along what was going on and bought into the system to further your own careers.
Sick of you complaining that you got £15 million for appearing in your latest chick flick, but your male co-star got sixpence more.
And more sick than you could ever know of your participation in protests and movements for change which do very little except enhance your own compassionate profile.
So begone! For a year at least.
If ministers are going to allow EU trawlers into our coastal waters post-Brexit, what is the point? It was one of the chief reasons why millions of us voted Leave. Our fishermen, who work so hard, in often treacherous conditions for little reward, have been betrayed once. Let us not betray them again.
I loved the Queen receiving Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in her drawing room, complete with its two-bar electric fire. Bet Princey has never seen one of those before. He probably thought it was a device for grilling bread or warming corgi paws. Did she perhaps have to explain to him what ‘corned beef legs’ are? One can only hope. (For those southerners unaware of this expression, it means the unsightly mottled effect on legs which results from sitting too near electric fires, sometimes necessary in colder climates.)
A royal visit: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets his UK counterpart HRH the Queen