Op-Ed columnist Bob Herbert of the New York Times wrote an article called "Why Aren’t We Shocked?" in October of 2006. This article captures a growing and ignored issue in our culture - misogyny. He starts off the article talking about the school shootings that had happened at the Amish school in Pennsylvania and the shootings at a public school in Colorado (both recent incidents at the time of this article's publication). In both schools, the killers deliberately separated the girls from the boys. At the Amish school, the killer shot 10 girls and no boys. In Colorado one girl was shot and several were molested.
This article questions why so little was ever reported on the fact that the crimes were enacted against girls and that the girls were specific targets. He goes on to question if an ethnic or religious group was targeted would there have been an outcry - "Imagine if a gunman had gone into a school, separated the kids up on the basis of race or religion, and then shot only the black kids. Or only the white kids. Or only the Jews. There would have been thunderous outrage. The country would have first recoiled in horror, and then mobilized in an effort to eradicate that kind of murderous bigotry. There would have been calls for action and reflection. And the attack would have been seen for what it really was: a hate crime."
So, why are so many crimes committed against women not labeled as hate crimes?
Policy makers and legislators have traditionally given many reasons for not including gender in hate crimes statistics: gender-based crimes are covered under other crimes which are already tracked, such as sexual assault and domestic violence, and thus there is no need to add them to hate crimes statistics; crimes against women are so prevalent that it would distort statistics for all other bases to cover them; and crimes against women are considered "different," because, unlike many other hate crimes, a victim often knows her perpetrator and was selected by the perpetrator for her particular characteristics.
But ask nearly any feminists and they'll argue that the real reason these crimes aren't labeled as "hate crimes" is because we fail to recognize the gender bias in crimes against women such as rape and domestic abuse. Both crimes are committed against women to show men's dominance over them.
So, why aren't we shocked? I know I am. How about you?
(Special thanks to Katie for her help with this post!)