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Hate Crimes and Gender

By Jessica Hodge

Approximately two years ago, I wrote a blog entry on the same issue I am writing about today – the gender category of hate crime law. In the blog entry I wrote two years ago [1], I shared how I was anxiously waiting for the FBI to publish their most recent version of the Hate Crime Statistics report. This report, published by the FBI each year, is a compilation of crime statistics submitted by police agencies across the country. [2] The report provides details on the number of hate crimes committed across the country and in each state, what types of offenses were committed (e.g., murder, assault, vandalism, etc.), and which types of biases were present within the offenses (e.g., anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Jewish, etc.). While there are certainly flaws with this report, I am always curious to review it as the report provides the only national indicator of hate crime offenders and victims that we have in this country.

Two years ago, I eagerly waited for the report to come out because it had been two years at that time since the gender category had been included within the Matthew Shephard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA). With the passage of this Act in 2009, police agencies were required to gather statistics on gender-motivated violence, similar to how they gathered statistics on other types of hate crimes. As someone who has studied gender-motivated hate crimes for over a decade, I was anxious to see how the inclusion of the gender category within the federal law would change how these types of crimes were handled by law enforcement officials. Since it was two years after the passage of the HCPA, I was ready to finally see how gender-motivated hate crimes compared to other types of hate crimes across the country. So what did I learn when the report was published that year? I learned that I was going to have to continue to wait….and wait….and wait. Now, four years after the passage of the HCPA, and two years since my previous blog entry on this issue, I still wait. In fact, I find myself in the same position as I did two years ago – waiting to see whether the gender category will finally be included within the FBI’s annual report.

Why is it taking so long for the gender category to be included within the FBI’s report? There are a few possible explanations. Although it has been four years since the passage of the HCPA, sometimes agencies are slow to implement a new policy if they are not fully supportive of the change, they do not have the proper resources to fully implement it, or they need to develop and provide training to the appropriate staff so that the change can be executed correctly and efficiently. In other words, sometimes it takes time for a new law or policy to be put into place.

Despite the frustration of having to wait the past four years for the changes to take place, I have been reminded of something recently – I can remain frustrated and wait, or I can work to make changes. Although I might not be able to change how quickly (or not) the gender category is included within the FBI’s annual report, I can work to change how gender-motivated violence is perceived by law enforcement officials, how news reporters cover gender-motivated crimes, and perhaps most importantly, how society views offenses committed against persons simply because of their gender. When we ignore how crimes motivated by someone’s gender are similar to other types of hate crimes, we send a message to the victims, the offenders, and to society that gender is not important – that crimes motivated by a victim’s gender are not as serious or as harmful as crimes that are motivated because of one of the other types of bias. This needs to change, and I do not have to wait for some report to work on these changes.

I hope that in two years I will have a very different story to share.

Jessica Hodge, Assistant Professor

Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology, UMKC


[1] To read this blog entry, see: http://info.umkc.edu/wgs/2011/10/

[2] For more information regarding the FBI’s report, see: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr.

The Vagina Monologues Auditions

Auditions for the 2014 V-Day at UMKC are being held

Friday, Nov 8 – 3:00 to 7:00

Saturday, Nov 9 – Noon to 3:00

Tuesday, Nov 12 – 4:00 to 6:00

Auditions are held at the UMKC Women’s Center.  No memorization or experience required!

For more information or to reserve a time slot, please contact Katie Birkenfeld or visit www.umkc.edu/womenc/

 

 

 

Apply for the Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund

UMKC Women’s Council 2014 Graduate Assistance Fund application process is open until 5:00 p.m., December 2nd.  Female graduate students in a post-baccalaureate approved program of study may apply.

Funding requests are up to $2,000, and the funds may be used for research projects, scholarly activities, travel-to-present papers, workshop attendance, and other special needs.

For more information on eligible requests go to www.umkcwc.org and click on Apply Now.  For specific questions, please email wcouncil@umkc.edu or call (816) 235-2452.

 

 

Emily Wilding Davison – Suffragette Martyr?

By Dr. Jennifer Frangos, Department of English

On a recent visit to the Museum of London with a friend, I found myself in front of a display case of artifacts from the Women’s Suffrage movement in Britain in the 1910s. (If you’re a PBS drama fan, you’ll remember the WSPU protest marches along Oxford Street in Mr. Selfridge and, of course, the backdrop of the women’s rights movement filtering subtly through Downton Abbey.) The museum has a significant collection of fascinating objects from this period, especially items relevant to the incarceration of suffragettes who had been arrested during protests or as a result of actions designed to call attention to their cause — including medals awarded to incarcerated suffragettes by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and Florence Hill’s prison diary, written on toilet paper.

But one of the most captivating parts of the suffrage exhibit is the loop of newsreel footage showing Emily Wilding Davison stepping in front of galloping horses on June 4th, 1913, at the Epsom Derby. She was struck and trampled and died four days later of her injuries. (You can see one newsreel version in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVrlLKAR1S0 ; this is not the version in the Museum of London’s exhibit.) Davison was a member of the WSPU, and had been arrested many times for protests, throwing stones, setting fire to mail boxes, planting bombs, and once for attacking a man she thought was a member of Parliament (Davison denied this charge, which suggests that she wasn’t responsible for this incident, for she accepted responsibility for every other action she was charged with). While incarcerated, as many suffragettes were wont to do, she engaged in hunger strikes as protest to the treatment she and others were subjected to. Initially, prison officials would release hunger strikers, for fear that their deaths while in custody would reflect poorly on the government; eventually, policy shifted to forced feedings and later, under legislation called “The Cat and Mouse Act,” to a process of allowing the hunger strike to progress to dangerous stages, then releasing the striker on the condition that she return to prison once she had sufficiently recovered to tolerate incarceration again, at which point she was usually arrested and her sentence picked up from where it left off. Davison was force-fed 49 times while incarcerated, including on occasions when she wasn’t on a hunger strike but prison officials had determined that her health was fragile enough that she needed intervention if she were to survive through her sentence. She described the experience, in no uncertain terms, as torture.

There has been much debate about Davison’s motivations and plans for the Epsom Derby protest; some believe that she was trying to kill herself in order to become a martyr to the cause of women’s rights, while others maintain that she meant to slip a flag or banner over the king’s horse as a publicity stunt. Much has been made of the fact that she bought a return train ticket from Victoria station (though apparently it wasn’t possible to buy a one-way ticket), left no suicide note or communication for her mother, and had plans to volunteer and attend a lecture later that week — so she must have thought she would be returning home after her protest. Others point to her increasingly militant activities and to the fact that in June of 1912, in the midst of a program of force-feeding of a number of suffragettes, Davison threw herself down an iron staircase in Holloway Prison as a protest of the treatment of her fellow inmates — which must be evidence of suicidal tendencies prior to the 1913 Derby (though in an account she wrote of the experience that was published after her death, she records that she told the prison’s Governor that “I thought that one big tragedy would save the others”). There are anecdotes of her “drawing the short straw” for a mysterious, unspecified action planned by a local suffragette group, and of her practicing catching the bridles of moving horses near her mother’s house in Northumberland. A hagiographical biography published shortly after her death suggests that there was a growing consensus among the radical protesters that eventually someone would need to die for the cause. Recent analysis of three separate newsreels of the Derby seem to indicate that she was reaching for the bridle of the king’s horse and holding a WSPU “Votes for Women” banner when the horse knocked her down, so it seems clear that she was intending to stop and bedeck the king’s horse with the WSPU colors — but whether or not she believed that she would walk away from this protest remains unclear.

Davison was almost instantly dubbed the “suffragette martyr” and compared to Joan of Arc. The funeral procession through London, on June 14th, included 6000 women’s rights supporters, was watched by more than 50,000 people, and stopped traffic throughout the city. Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the suffragette movement and founder of the WSPU, was arrested as she left her house that morning to join the funeral, but the funeral’s organizer had Pankhurst’s empty carriage ride in the parade anyway in symbolic protest. Davison’s coffin was taken by train to Morpeth, Northumberland, where a second parade and funeral service were held the next day, involving another 20,000 onlookers. She was buried in the family plot, under the motto “Deeds Not Words.”

This year, with the 100th anniversary of her death, there has been renewed interest in her story, and renewed debate about her motivations. The UK television station Channel Four aired a documentary in May, including the analysis of newsreel footage I mentioned above. Michael Tanner published a book, The Suffragette Derby, including his own analysis of the newsreels, which points more toward suicide. A plaque was unveiled at the race track, and there was a petition to hold a moment of silence at this year’s race (which was considered, though not enacted due to logistic and practical concerns). Local officials in Northumberland announced plans to restore Davison’s gravesite and memorial as well. In the words of a fellow suffragette, Gertrude Colmore, we would all do well to remember Emily Wilding Davison, “who died that other women might find it possible to live truer, happier lives; who fought that other women might have freedom; who gave herself to the Woman’s Cause, without grudging and without fear, convinced, as every apostle of liberty has been convinced, that rebellion against tyranny is obedience to God, and never doubting that God will give the victory” (60–61).

Works Cited:

Colmore, G. The Life of Emily Davison: An Outline. London: The Woman’s Press, 1913. Print. Rept. in Stanley, Liz and Ann Morley. The Life and Death of Emily Wilding Davison. London: The Women’s Press, 1988. Print.

See also:

Atkinson, Diane. “Deeds Not Words.” New Statesman (6 June 2005). http://www.newstatesman.com/node/150807. Web.

Chancellor, Deborah. The Perfect Rebel: The Life and Death of Emily Davison. Edinburgh: Barrington Stoke, 2010. Print.

Davison, Emily Wilding. Personal Papers. Women’s Library at the London School of Economics. http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/collections/featuredCollections/womensLibraryLSE.aspx

Sleight, John. One-Way Ticket to Epsom: A Journalist’s Enquiry into the Heroic Story of Emily Wilding Davison. Morpeth, Bridge Studios, 1988. Print.

Social and Working History Collection. Museum of London. http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/collections-research/about-collections/social-working-history-collection/

Tanner, Michael. “The Violent Zealot of Women’s Lib.” The Week (8 Jun 2013): 53. Print.

 

UMKC Police Department Presents R. A. D. Training

The Rape Aggression Defense Basic Personal Defense System is a national program of realistic self-defense tactics and techniques taught for women only.  All courses are taught by nationally certified R.A.D. instructors.

R.A.D. provides information on physical and non-physical optons, as well as insight into the attacker mindset.  The system will provide students with the knowledge to make an educated decision about personal defense.

The UMKC Police Department presents the R.A.D. training Friday, October 25, 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., and Saturday, October 26, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.   Meet at the UMKC police training room, 5005 Oak Street.

To register or for more information please contact Sergeant Kevin Mueller at (816) 235-1515 or by email.

The widespread acceptance of the R.A.D. system is due to the ease, simplicity, and effectiveness of the tactics, solid research, legal defensibility, and unique teaching methodoogy.  R.A.D. is the only self-defense program endorsed by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA).

 

 

WGS Graduate Research Grant Applications Now Available

Purpose

Women’s and Gender Studies offers research or travel grants of up to $750 for graduate student research initiatives or conference presentations with a Women’s and/or Gender Studies focus. For the 2013 fall semester, WGS has a total of $3,000 to disburse. Please note that applications for graduate student research grants will ONLY be accepted in Fall 2013.

Types of projects funded

Awards are granted for various types of research activities and research needs, including:

  • travel costs to research sites
  • presentation of original research at symposia/conferences
  • research equipment & supplies
  • duplication of archival materials (microfilm, DVD, photocopies, etc.)*
  • literature to support a new project (including theses, dissertations, journal articles, etc.)*

*an itemized list is required to request monies for these purposes

Eligibility

WGS Research Grants are open to graduate students whose research has a WGS focus. Applicants can resubmit an unsuccessful proposal one time only. Grant winners must wait one year from the end of their projects before applying for another WGS Research Grant. Successful applicants will need to supply a departmental account number (excluding gifts and grants) to which the funds can be transferred.

Application Procedures

Applications should include the following:

  1. application form
  2. project abstract (no more than 250 words)
  3. proposal & budget (no more than 5 pages, double-spaced) should include:
  • a detailed explanation of the project
  • a statement of how this project fits into current and future research plans
  • a statement about the importance of the project for the enhancement of WGS at UMKC
  • a description of the anticipated outcome of the project (conference presentation, publication, etc)
  • an itemized budget, detailing expenditures and a justification for those expenditures. Note that students are also encouraged to seek matching funds from their departments or other sources.
  • Note that the System per diem is $42/day [$21/day for fewer than 12 hours] and that mileage should be calculated at the university rate of $.525 per mile. More information on System reimbursement policies can be found at: http://www.umsystem.edu/ums/rules/bpm/ 
  1. curriculum vitae
  2. brief statement from a mentor that the project is viable and that the student is actively working on it (note that this does not need to be a full recommendation letter).

Application Deadline

Applications should be submitted to Dr. Brenda Bethman via email (bethmanb@umkc.edu) by Friday, November 2, 2013. Awards will be announced in mid- to late November. Monies can used for projects that will take place between September 1, 2013 and August 31, 2014.

Post Project

At the end of the project, the  student is expected to do one or more of the following:

  • submit a one-page written report to the Director of WGS
  • provide a short oral report to the WGS faculty at the next regular meeting
  • give a formal presentation to WGS faculty/students.

Review Process

The WGS Graduate Research Grants for Fall 2013 will be the Director of WGS and a member of the Women’s & Gender Studies Program Review Committee. No critiques of proposals (successful or not) will be provided.

 

Dr. Kristi Holsinger – Women, Crime & Criminal Justice

Virtually every semester, students in my Criminal Justice and Criminology classes want to know if I am watching any number of criminal justice system related television series (CSI, Law and Order, Criminal Minds, Lockup, Oz, etc.).  My answer in the past has always been, “No, first we don’t have cable and second, I can’t stand to watch any of these shows.”  I suspect the same may be true for medical professionals related to hospital dramas.

However, newer shows (which I was initially reluctant to watch) are forcing me to rethink my pat answer.  So what is the difference?  How are these these new shows (for example, The Wire and Orange is the New Black) different?

I’ll give you my three initial observations:

  1. A critique of a profoundly dysfunctional “justice” system
  2. The “good” people and the “bad” people are not simplistically defined with one group being glorified and one group being demonized
  3. An obvious opportunity to see and discuss the effects of gender, race and class privilege in its many forms

If you love Orange is the New Black or need a good reason to watch the series, I hope you’ll join my on-line Women, Crime and Criminal Justice class next summer.  It is perhaps the first time a series has told the stories of so many interesting (read non-Hollywood) women—women of color,  of lower socioeconomic status, of varying sexual orientations, including transgendered.  In Feminist Criminology language we would say the show allows us to examine intersecting marginalized identities.

I look forward to having a class were we can look at this representation together , and see both the realities captured by this series and critique ways in which it falls short.

Her Art Project @ Plaza Art Fair

RAINN Day @ UMKC

Getting Medieval: Have We Really Progressed?

By Dr. Linda Mitchell, Martha Jane Phillips Starr Missouri Distinguished Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies

I had just finished writing an assessment of a new book on divorce medieval-style for the promotion file of a colleague at another university, in which she had described the kinds of spousal abuse that might lead to a legal separation or divorce in the Middle Ages as being “of astonishing violence.”  Indeed, this author had written a fantastic book on conflict in marriage in late medieval England a number of years ago in which she described the kinds of casual day-to-day abuse endured by wives of the period as a level of violence no modern-day woman in the developed world would tolerate.  And yet, this ubiquitous abuse was not just overlooked by the church, which was more interested in the stability of marriage than in the safety of the people within the marriage, but also by wives whose husbands were trying to dissolve their marriages.  Her estimation was that women were also concerned more with their financial security and social condition than, perhaps, their own safety.

I have heard this argument before: the period we know as “medieval” was 1) unusually violent; 2) prone to extreme levels of violence against women; 3) like nothing the West now experiences in terms of both phenomena.  And for a long time, I accepted this notion as a given.  As the years have gone on, however, I have wondered about the characterization of medieval violence against women as “nothing like” today.  And then there appeared an article in the New York Times of 18 August 2013: “A Call for Aid, Not Laws, to Help Women in Italy.”  Apparently, in the decade between 2002 and 2012, an average of one woman every two days was KILLED by her husband/partner/ex-partner in Italy.  These are not just poor women, or immigrant women, although the situation is very dire especially for North African refugee women.  This level of violence is just the tip of the iceberg.  According to the article, 32 percent (according to a UN report) of women in Italy experience daily abuse; 90 percent of rapes go unreported; there are only 500 spaces available in battered women’s shelters (instead of the recommended 5,700); and the most typical advice for women who are abused is that they should “stay home” because there are no services available to them to provide counseling, protection, or financial assistance.  Sounds pretty medieval, eh?

In one way Italy has progressed beyond the Middle Ages: The Italian government has decided to beef up the punishment for perpetrators of abuse.  Unfortunately, they have not addressed the real problem, which is that the laws that are already in place are overlooked, unobserved, and dismissed.  The notion that a man has the right to kill his wife or partner/ex-partner with impunity because he is “moved by passion” is still alive and well in Italy.

The article on Italy was horrifying, but how effective are laws against abuse, against bullying, against violence directed at women and children, against exploitation of women and children in the United States?  How many spaces are available in the USA for women in need of shelter against an abusive spouse or partner?  How willing are the law enforcement agencies—including those of the military—to address this persistent problem in ways that are actually helpful to women?  How often are women told that they are the ones responsible for the abuse they endure?  And, perhaps most importantly, how willing are family members, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and strangers on the street to challenge abuse when they see it; to confront the abusers; to take action to protect and support the victims?

As we begin this new school year, I wish that everyone even remotely involved in the life of UMKC would take a pledge not to look the other way when witnessing abuse or bullying.  We all need to LEAN IN: to reject the idea that uninvolvement is the best course of non-action; to challenge and confront such behaviors and demand that the victims gain the protection and advocacy they need; to reject social, cultural, and religious conventions that blame women for being women and that consider women to be inferior or exploitable.  This is what feminism is all about:  not just the revolutionary notion that women are PEOPLE, but also that no one in today’s world should experience the kinds of horrors discussed as so casually occurring in the medieval world.