To a man with hammer, everything looks like a nail”
At first sight, a misogyny-hate-speech law seems unobjectionable. Who would defend misogyny? Certainly not me. Unfortunately, some feminists have weaponised the awful circumstances surrounding the death of Sarah Everard in London to push for hastily constructed misogyny-hate-speech legislation. I believe huge dangers are lurking in this, mostly well-intentioned, proposed legislation. We know nothing yet about the circumstances surrounding her abduction and we are not in any position to propose any legislation based in the case.
The biggest danger is that it will be perceived misogyny that will be the criterion. This matters because there is a substantial strand of feminism that does not accept that there is such a thing as a good-faith objection to any of its doctrines and any dissent is viewed as misogyny.
Take this quote from Andrea Dworkin for example.
Feminism is hated because women are hated. Anti-feminism is a direct expression of misogyny; it is the political defence of women hating”
This is not some fringe player in the feminist scene but someone who is on the reading list for gender studies courses and who was described as recently as 2019 in the Guardian as the ‘visionary feminist for our troubled times’.
If the criterion for this legislation is perceived misogyny we can sure that it will be used by feminists to chill debate and to suppress dissenting points of view. It will not matter if your opinions are nothing more than a scholarly difference of opinion. If it is perceived by feminists that your writing or speech is misogynistic a hate crime could be logged, irrespective of your underlying intentions and beliefs.
Take, for example, the case of James Damore, an employee at Google, who was sacked for arguing in an internal memo that gender disparities may arise, at least in part, from biological sex differences. You can agree or disagree with this point of view that is not the problem. However, it was backed with references from the scientific literature and it is a view that many academic evolutionary psychologists would agree with. However, some feminists argued that his comments constituted sexual harassment and it would seem that their view won out and he no longer works for Google.
There have been other casualties of this intolerant culture. Allesandro Strumia a physicist at CERN presented evidence that women were being promoted with fewer publications and citations than their male peers. I don’t know whether he was right or wrong, that was never discussed. He departed from the accepted narrative and was consequently classed as a misogynist and in turn he lost his job. Similarly, William Knowland challenged, that feminist sacred-doctrine, the patriarchy (here). He backed this up with a selection of references from the psychology literature. Despite this he was described in the newspapers as a misogynist and vile sexist and he lost his job as a teacher at Eaton.
I think you will see from this that a very broad definition of misogyny is being taken. As a result, this legislation that is being promoted in response to an extreme event could cause lasting damage to diversity of opinion. Not only are you at risk of losing your job but you could also end up with a criminal record, merely for expressing an opinion that is perceived (regardless of your intentions) as misogynist. Going back to the saying at the start of this post I would modify it for our day and age to,
To a feminist, all disagreement looks like misogyny”Femgoggles 2021