I’ve made my decision to come clean and I feel better already. So here it is: the story of my criminal life, in every lurid detail.
I first committed a hate crime when I was 14 or so, and one supposes this could be put down to the impetuosity of youth. Except that it didn’t end there. Once I found myself on the wrong side of the law, the lure of illicit activity proved irresistible.
Since then I must have committed hundreds of hate crimes, possibly thousands – I’ve lost count or rather, truth be told, never bothered to count. The crimes varied in detail, but the motivation was always the same. Misogyny. Expressed through countless acts.
Mercifully, I can’t yet be tried and convicted for, Britain still being a comparatively free country, we can only answer to laws that were in force at the time the crime was committed.
Luckily for me no appropriate law existed at the time I was involved in multiple criminal activities, and even now it’s coming into existence only in Nottinghamshire. But such pioneering efforts never go to waste, and I’m sure that before long other police departments will join forces to stamp out vermin like me, serial misogynists.
Even though this initiative could conceivably clamp me in prison, I must say I admire the effort. It’s time we put an end to misogyny, and the best way of doing so is to define the crime as broadly as possible, casting the net so wide that no wrong-doer can get around it, nor slip through.
This is what Nottinghamshire Police have done but, credit where it’s due, they received invaluable help from Nottingham Women’s Centre. Together these two bedrocks of East Midlands probity worked out a definition of misogynistic hate crime that’s guaranteed to inculpate not only me but also potentially every post-pubescent male in the country.
According to the initiative, misogynistic hate crime includes: complimenting a woman on her appearance, texting or otherwise communicating unwanted amorous interest, any “unwanted or uninvited physical or verbal contact or engagement”, including such heinous crimes as “wolf whistling”.
But don’t let me indulge in fragmentary quoting. This is what a spokesman for the force actually said: “Unwanted physical or verbal contact or engagement is defined as exactly that and so can cover wolf-whistling and other similar types of contact. If the victim feels that this has happened because they are a woman then we will record it as a hate crime.”
One can only applaud this statement for being not only legally precise but also stylistically elegant. ‘Jane feels she was raped because they are a woman’ – who can argue against such usage? No one, for it’s consonant with the same spirit that animates this whole initiative, aimed at eliminating not only misogyny but also singular personal pronouns.
If a woman feels they is a victim of a crime, they is. What’s startlingly attractive about this idea isn’t just its (their?) grammar, but also its endless opportunities for expansion.
Defining any crime as an act seen as such by its victim makes it possible to charge every one of Her Majesty’s 65 million subjects with some sort of felony, and this includes babes in arms, who tend to soil their clothes and disrupt their parents’ sleep.
Such legal wisdom is already applied to race crime, which is just that if the victim feels offended. So why not misogyny?
But let’s not imagine things that might happen. Let’s concentrate instead on something that has happened: my lifelong criminal activities, as defined by Nottinghamshire Police.
I committed my first crime in a Moscow courtyard when I was 14, by planting an unwanted kiss on a neighbourhood girl. She called me something that doesn’t easily translate into English and told me to wait until I grew up.
Having thus stepped on the criminal path, I’ve since travelled it all the way. Of the criminal activities specifically mentioned by Nottinghamshire Police, I’m only innocent of texting (because that wasn’t an option for most of my life, and I still haven’t learned how) and wolf whistling (because I’ve never worked on a building site.)
Neither have I ever suggested to a woman that one didn’t get many of those to a pound, nor asked her if her legs go all the way up to the top. But I’ve complimented probably hundreds of women, many of whom didn’t look pleased. In my youth, I’d often make improper suggestions by way of testing the waters, only to find many waters to be reluctant or even downright contemptuous. I’ve been known to say scabrous things to female colleagues, and not all of them were pleased to receive such attentions.
I… well, I don’t want to spoil your appetite by more of such gruesome confessions. Just remind me to keep my mouth shut and my hands to myself next time I’m in Nottingham.
“Nottingham is leading the way with this – it’s not happening anywhere else in the country…yet!” said a Women’s Centre spokesman. Hear, hear! I’m sure the implied confidence isn’t misplaced.