The Hounding of a Female Academic

What This Tells Us about Policing

Last week Kathleen Stock, a professor at Sussex University and author of Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism, found on her journey to work posters declaring she was a “transphobe” and demands for her to be sacked. Masked protesters set off flares next to a sign saying “Stock out,” and an Instagram post purportedly made by students stated, “We’ve fucking had enough…If you care for our community like we do, spread the word, get people angry, angry enough to do something about it…our demand is simple. Fire Kathleen Stock. Until then, you’ll see us around.”

It is alarming also to see that this kind of language appeared to be supported by academics at Sussex as somehow justified in the face of Professor Stocks’ alleged “transphobia.” Threats of this nature are clearly a potential criminal offence on several grounds. Under The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, the activities of the students risk being a "course of conduct" which without doubt caused Professor Stock alarm and distress—she fled the campus in tears and was advised by police to conduct lectures online for her own safety or even consider hiring private security.

Section 4(1) of the Public Order Act 1986 deals with “Fear or provocation of violence.” It is a criminal offence to use threatening abusive or insulting words or behaviour or distribute or display any writing or sign that is threatening, abusive or insulting either with intent to cause a belief that immediate unlawful violence is threatened OR if the person threatened is likely to be believed that violence will be used or provoked. 

Happily, the University issued immediately a clear statement about the need to protect the academic freedom of Professor Stock and defended that statement in the mainstream media. Sussex Police also confirmed they would be investigating. All of this is very welcome and probably would not have happened even a year ago, such was the climate of fear created over women’s rights to speak up and about their biology. 

However, concern remains that the police are captured by gender ideology to such an extent that they continue to put the safety of women and girls at risk. Note the first response from Sussex police to a number of women who were so concerned by what they were reading, they attempted online complaints about a potential hate incident—as we are all urged to do—in order to provide the police with "vital" intelligence to inform their operational priorities to deal with the escalation of “hate incidents” into serious crime. 

response came from “Stef” who announced her pronouns as “she/her”: “This is not a hate incident or a police matter. I have viewed the [Instagram] account and they are expressing their opinion in response to something she said which they are entitled to do and is not a crime. The complainant was invited to report a complaint to the social media site and it was pointed out that offensive material is not necessarily illegal and there was a need to balance freedom of expression with the right to be free from hate crime. 

This is all well and good. On the one hand, it’s a relief to see the police aware of the need to carefully protect our rights of free speech pursuant to article 10 ECHR. But on the other, it is very alarming to see this response to what were clear threats of violence and intimidation against a female academic in her place of work, who has done no more than express her protected belief that sex is real and it matters. 

Historically, the police have been slightly less alert to the Article 10 rights of those with “gender critical views”—such as Harry Miller, Marion Millar and I—and quick to record us as “hateful” for such disgraceful public statements as “huh?” or “My dog will call me a Nazi for cheese.” This is why we are currently waiting for the Court of Appeal to decide Harry Miller’s application to strike down the Hate Crimes Guidance, why Marion Millar has instructed Joanna Cherry QC to defend her human rights in the criminal court and why I am also hopefully going to meet the College of Policing and my local force in court.

I have a real fear that there is something very rotten at the heart of policing now which has been exacerbated by the refusal to include “sex” as a monitored strand for hate crime purposes. Instead, “Sex” is seen as conflated with “gender identity”—which any man may assume on his declaration alone. As demonstrated by the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, women are at risk of male violence because of their sex. If we cannot recognise this, talk about it and define it, how are women going to be protected?

Such is the concern about this that Fair Cop has compiled a report calling for an independent inquiry into the attitudes of the police regarding harassment and violence directed at women. We have examined the sadly very many public examples of open police hostility towards those who express gender-critical views and their discriminatory approach to complaints made about women as opposed to those made by women. 

We aim to release the report by the end of this week and will send a copy to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission asking them to consider if the police are in breach of their Equality Act 2010 public sector equality duty. We will also send copies to every Police and Crime Commissioner and to the Home Secretary. 

The cult of gender ideology and its conflation of sex and gender by the police are having a serious impact on the welfare of women and girls and we now urgently require investigation. Horrific as the experiences of Professor Stock have been, I hope they serve at least one positive good: To shine a very bright light on a culture of thuggery and violence that has so bizarrely captured so many of our essential state agencies. 

A guest post by
Sex, gender and child protection.
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