Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why isn't violence against women a hate crime?

I was reading a book and came across stats on hate crimes in the United States, and began thinking about the various signifiers we consider protected under hate crime legislation. It led me to this thought:

Why isn't violence against women on the basis of their gender considered a hate crime?*

I don't necessarily have an answer to this and I'm not sure where I stand on the issue. However, gender (along with race, sexual orientation, disability, etc) is protected under the equal protection clause, so it's notable that it's not included. Protecting gender under hate crimes laws would change how street harassment, sexual violence and rape cases are viewed, in my opinion.

I can certainly think of many acts of violence done specifically against women and girls because they are women and girls.

*Edit - added "on the basis of their gender" added 2/26 at 11:30 EST for clarification reasons.


Anonymous said...

Why isn't violence against women considered a hate crime?

Because that would be illegal. Separate and unequal punishment for the same crime.

For instance, if I punch a man, it's simple assault, a minor charge. Then, if I punch a woman, it's a hate crime, carrying an incredibly stiff penalty? No.

It's why things such as the VAWA are treading dangerous waters, because you're giving special privileges to a gender that's supposed to be equal.

If men and women are equal, you cannot give special protections under the law TO women.

The ACLU would have a field day with any attempt to make violence against women a hate crime.

Also, especially considering that over 70% of victims of violent crime are men, not women, it would be highly illogical to give special protection to women.

To argue FOR special protections under the law for women would be anti-feminist, much in the way of "benevolent sexism", where it assumes women are special fragile creatures that need to be protected.

Mary Sunshine said...

Why isn't violence against women a hate crime? Because it's the basis of our mainstream, pornogrified culture. Because males love it. Because females are raised to groove on it. Because males and their minions make the laws.

lindsay said...


I should have been more clear in my original post. I'm talking about violence against women done specifically because the person is a woman. If you notice, the links I provided were to specific examples of violence against women because they were women (shootings of the Amish girls, incidents of throwing acid on schoolgirls in Afghanistan).

In hate crimes now, prosecutors have to prove that the crime was committed because of bias against race, sexual orientation, etc. It would be no different for gender.

I don't think all violence against women would fall under hate crimes (although one could argue that American society teaches us that women are less-than and all violence against women is a form of a hate crime - I'm not 100% buying this argument, though). However, there is some violence done specifically because the victims are women, and that should be protected under hate crimes.

Anonymous said...

To "Mary Sunshine", if that were all entirely true, then, wouldn't violence against males carry a harsher penalty than violence against women?

Right now, crime against a man is the same as a woman. Equality.

In hate crimes now, prosecutors have to prove that the crime was committed because of bias against race, sexual orientation, etc. It would be no different for gender.

Too many grey areas could be created. For instance, did Joe Redneck beat his wife because he's a drunk loser, or did he specifically do it because she's a woman, and he hates women?

Whereas if someone beats a gay person, it's pretty easy to identify if they did or did not do it based on their orientation.

It would also imply that if such laws existed, there would also have to be equal protections under the law for men, shielding them from violence based on being male.

It would also create ugly ass situations if both laws existed.

Much in the way that Al Capone was busted for tax evasion, it could very well be used as a loophole to do more to someone you can't get on the charges you want them on.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not on some pro-violence-against-women platform here.

I'm just one of those people that's wary of too many laws for too many things, especially ones with potential for misuse.

If you support laws that define such things as hate crimes, do you also support equal protection under the law for males in the same respect?

Liz said...

The whole concept of a hate crime is completely flawed. If I, say, kill someone because of their race, then I should be prosecuted and punished according to my actions, not my thoughts. So what if you harm someone because of their race/gender/sexual orientation or simply because they were there at the time? It shouldn't matter, unless you want to make thinking nasty thoughts a crime as well.

Amelia said...

I'm not sure, Liz. Because from you say, wouldn't it also not matter if someone committed a pre-meditated murder, etc.? Currently in our court system, that is taken into account for crimes, too.

Andrew said...

Actually, I am against the use of "hate crime" terminology and implementation in judicial cases. Most violent crime is committed out of hate. To brand certain brands of our own savagery against some but not all would simply cheapen the plight of everyone who's case was deemed not a "hate crime".

My main beef with the question posed is, would attacking a man on the basis of his gender also be a hate crime? In the purest sense of the term, yes, but since society is dominated by an overbearing patriarchal system of control, does that justify increased hostile prosecution of a man's assailant based on grounds that it was an act of bigotry?

Are minority groups and the disenfranchised capable of being bigots, too? Or only those traits perceived as culturally dominant, whites, men, Christians...

I do not see it this way. If we wish for a society that executes equality among all peoples, we must first realize that we are all equal in our capacity to harm, to offend, and to commit acts of bigotry. Any minority status does not exempt us from this.