UK Green party peer suggests 6 pm curfew for men

After the murder of Sarah Everard in London a debate has broken out on how to keep women safe. A woman in the Green party–I assume somewhat tongue-in-cheek–that women would be safest if London instituted a man-only curfew starting at 6 pm. Here’s an opinion article about it:

Predictably it has created an uproar, mostly among men. The proposal probably isn’t legal, either, but I do think it’s a great way to get men to think about how women have to live their lives to minimize violence against them.

There have been demonstrations and the UK police have responded atrociously, perhaps in part because the alleged murderer is an officer.

I believe that to some degree we are all responsible for our own safety but the point brought about by Everard’s murder is that she took all the normal precautions and it still didn’t protect her. Society needs to change so that women can go out with no more thought to their own safety than men. Part of me would love to see a one-time male-only curfew to help drive some understanding.

It makes as much sense as saying women would be safer if they stayed home, barefoot and pregnant.

That’s the point.

As an ignorant American who knows nothing of British law, which part of British law exactly would strike down such a curfew? I know that in the United States such a curfew would probably be invalidated on the basis of ‘violation of equal protection clause’.

Not a lawyer but the UK Human Rights Act covers the right to liberty and security, and the right to freedom of assembly and association. I imagine that between those a general curfew on men would be a no go.

A curfew shouldn’t be necessary, of course. In the debate currently underway in the UK about male violence against women, it has been pointed out that well, actually, men are at greater risk of violence from men than women are. Assuming this is true*, it is very noticeable that no police service or government agency has ever even thought of advising that men not go out at night. Whereas this is the first thing women will be told in any discussion of public safety.

*If you want to assume this, you have to first assume that women report assault at the same rate as men and this is an assumption that deserves some interrogation.

Don’t have time to respond more fully right now, but it’s important to note that this was definitely never intended as anything serious. It’s a thought experiment and should be treated as that.

No, she wasn’t being serious. She was just making a point.

In London there has been a shocking case of kidnap and murder of a woman walking home at night. Made all the more shocking because the prime suspect is a police officer who has just been charged with murder. Eventually it will go to trial and all the lurid details will come out.

This has sparked off a huge outpouring of angst about societal male violence towards women, domestic abuse, the iniquities of judicial system and policing. Activists with an agenda are taking the opportunity to unpack their issue and instant solutions for the mainstream media newshounds. Some, as you might expect, are quite off the wall.

This has not been help by the poor behaviour of the police during a candlelit vigil for the unfortunate victim in a south London park. The police found themselves caught between some poorly written legislation intended to restrict public gatherings during the Covid pandemic and the right to peaceful protest.

The UK has a community policing model, they are there for the assistance and protection of the public. In this case they find themselves in a very compromising position. The organisers of the vigil followed the correct procedures, had masks and kept social distancing until at some point they got too close and the police made a tactical decision that the meeting had to be broken up. The result has been images of burly policemen wrestling women to the ground and arresting them. Given the nature of the crime, this could hardly be more damaging. Sometimes the police make mistakes and let people down and that leads to calls for institutional reforms.

There have been calls for the head of the London Metropolitan Police to resign. Except she is the first woman police officer to hold that position. The politicians involved in the framing of the ambiguous legislation are pointing to the courts and the policing tactics. The Home Secretary, who has political responsibility for the police in London is also a woman. Firing women that have achieved positions of power and influence does not seem to be a satisfactory political answer despite the clear lines of responsibility.

It is an awful mess, and there are plenty of people stoking up a wide ranging debate around the theme of male violence. Misogyeny and what to do about it, is the topic of the day.

Heck, this was my assumption when I saw the thread title.

I get the reasoning behind the “thought experiment”, but having an understanding of the scale of the problem would help. What percentage of British men are committing violent crimes against women? Males are roughly half the population of the species, it’s somewhat strange in my opinion that just because something is disproportionately caused by members of that half of the species but still only practiced by a very, very small percentage of that half, it is the problem of men to “fix it.”

Blacks in America are about 13% of the population, but represent more than 13%[cite] of violent criminal offenders. This is a well known statistic, but if you make the argument it is black people’s responsibility and job to fix violent crime in their community, broadly asserting a shared collective responsibility, that is (correctly) viewed as racist. For the simple reason that the overwhelming % of black people never commit any violent crimes, so trying to impugn all of them due to the actions of the few, is improper.

You aren’t getting it. The point is not that it is the problem of men to “fix” violence. The point is that for as long as I can remember, the way to “fix” violence against women has been to restrict women. Men are raping/assaulting/killing/women - women shouldn’t go out alone or on the street after dark or whatever.

You don’t like the idea that all men should be restricted because of the actions of a small proportion of the male population - but apparently have no problem with all women being advised to restrict their lives because they might be victimized and possibly blamed if they are out late, alone and dress they way they choose.

From the rest of the post it’s not clear that you do. The thought experiment isn’t trying to illustrate that men are collectively responsible for preventing male violence against women. It’s to illustrate that the burden of preventing male violence against women is disproportionately dumped on women.

Statements you will see made by police and other authority figures advising individuals how to behave to reduce male violence against women:

Don’t be out after dark
Never take your eye off your drink even for a second
Don’t get any more than very mildly tipsy at most
Stay away from places with crowds of strange men, like bars, clubs, restaurants, concerts, festivals, sporting events and so forth.
Make sure you always tell your friends where you are going and let them know when you’ve got there
Share the details of the person you’re going to be with
Carry your keys in your hand if you’re walking alone
Don’t walk alone - always pay for a cab even for short journeys
Don’t give the cab driver your actual address - get out earlier and walk the rest of the way
Live your life with constant vigilance under threat of death. Never relax for even a second.

Statements which the police and authority figures never make when advising individuals on how to behave to reduce male violence against women

Don’t go out after dark
Don’t get drunk
Stay away from places where you might meet women
Make sure people know where you are at all times
If you see a woman or women you don’t know in the street stay 50ft away from them at all times.
Etc. etc.

It would never happen.

In fact, even though men are also the victims of male violence, they are never, ever advised to take the same “elementary” precautions about being out at night or getting drunk etc. that women are. Why is that?

This would be because a chain of arm-linked policemen had hemmed them in and were forcing them closer together…

When I went to college, a significant part my mandatory freshman orientation were both peer presentations and presentations from the university administration and police department that included most of those guidelines, including explicit guidelines specifically for men to avoid becoming sexual predators. When I went to Washington, D.C. for a semester, part of my mandatory orientation for that was guidelines to reduce the risk of being mugged or a victim other street crimes. I’m a man.

I’m not saying that the experience of men and women and our society is equivalent, or that there are no double standards or hypocrisy. But the statement that police and authority figures never make these kinds of statements to men is just flat wrong.

Well that’s really good to hear. So I will amend my claim about the frequency of these things to “vastly less than the consistency and frequency with which equivalent messages are broadcast to women”.

I think that’s probably a difference in perspective. My perspective is none of those things is putting the “burden” on women. I view those things as “advice” on how to avoid situations in which bad people do bad things. They are not commands, and they do not impart moral obligation on the part of women to avoid being the victims of crime.

I get a number of warnings about crime in the course of my life–warnings from financial institutions and technology firms about confidence schemes, when I used to travel pre-covid the State Department has write ups on many countries warning about common criminal activities in those countries and how to avoid them etc. I don’t view these as putting the burden on victims, I view them as advice on ways to help avoid victimization. No one is arguing that anyone other than the scam artists are morally responsible for Nigerian Prince scams, but they certainly are taking effort to try to educate and warn people about the circumstances in which such crimes occur.

And there are all kinds of campaigns to limit or even abstain from drinking that I see all the time, linked to various ills it can cause. There’s a whole movement to abstain from alcohol one month out of every year etc.

These are very specific situations. What advice have you been given about every time you step out the door in your own country for the rest of your life?

There’s been a lot of outrage in the UK about this in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder. Most of it putting it better than I can. Here’s some:

What happened to Sarah Everard has hit home hard for so many women because we make the calculations she did every day too. We take the longer, better-lit route, push the fear aside for the voice that says ‘don’t be daft, you’ve every right to walk home alone at night and be safe’.
Tell friends ‘it’s fine, it’s just around the corner, I’ll text when I’m back’ …but still we make a plan - Keys gripped between fingers we map the corner shops we could duck into en-route. Swap shoes for trainers in case we need to run. Keep our music low or turned off.
Even being on the phone has downsides. One eye is always on the person in front or behind - would they help me, might they be a threat? Should I cross the road, would that make it worse? Are there lights on in any of these houses if I need to pretend this is where I live?
You’re a grown woman and in no other area of your life do you feel so vulnerable. You resent it even though you understand there is a risk - however small. It is frustrating and tiring and constant. And yet sometimes, despite all those calculations, it still isn’t enough.

Speaking for myself, I’ve never thought about making sure I had shoes I could break into a sprint in, I’ve never given people my proposed route home so they know where to find my murdered corpse, I’ve never ostentatiously started a phone-call in a cab so the driver knows someone knows I’m in his car, I’ve never thrown away a drink because I turned my head for 30 seconds, I’ve never got out of a cab two blocks from my home so some stranger doesn’t know my address…

Women do this shit all the time, as a routine. And expect to do it for the rest of their lives.

Sure, for health purposes. Has one of the benefits of these campaigns ever been that men will be safer from male violence? Because it hasn’t on this side of the pond.

And yet they do nothing to solve the problem do they? I know you’re going to come back with a ‘not all men’ argument, but given that the vast majority of women have, a number of times in their lives, been harassed, groped, verbally abused or followed just because they are women, then there’s an awful lot of men who don’t know when their behaviour crosses a line into being inappropriate, abusive and frightening, even if they don’t realise it. So perhaps we could at least start with educating boys about how to behave with some civil responsibility.