‘It Happens Here’ launches campaign to make misogyny a hate crime in Newcastle

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Last week, It Happens Here Newcastle launched their campaign to make misogyny a hate crime in Newcastle upon Tyne. They announced a call-out for victims of misogynistic behaviour to take part in a video interview last week, which will accompany an open letter to the City Council.

The Newcastle University society, which supports survivors of sexual violence, have carried out 15-minute video interviews with citizens, students and residents which followed a set list of questions about their personal experiences of misogyny in the city. The videos will be edited into a compilation and sent with an open letter to Newcastle City Council to show how extensive experiences of misogynoir (misogyny towards black women), transmisogyny (misogyny towards trans women and transfeminine people) or misogyny generally are in Newcastle.

This is inspired by Nottingham’s 2016 campaign to also make misogyny a hate crime, which successfully lead to Nottinghamshire Police becoming the first police in the country to allow women and girls to report cases of misogyny, offer support to victims and investigate perpetrators. Citizen’s UK are now following suit and initiating a nationwide campaign.

The society also invited those who have felt affected by witnessing the effect of misogyny on those around them, even if it does not personally affect them.

Madeline Baugh, co-president of the It Happens Here, Newcastle society said: “Especially with misogyny and rape culture, it’s just so prevalent. It’s going to be a huge battle and it’s going to take years until we’re somewhere where women can feel safe going outside and where women shouldn’t expect to be treated with such volatile behaviour. It shouldn’t be like that.”

Madeline Baugh, co-president of It Happens Here, Newcastle
Link here to my interview with Madeline Baugh, co-president of “It Happens Here, Newcastle”, about the campaign they are launching.

Misogyny is defined as “hatred or dislike of, or prejudice against women” (OED) but can affect different intersectionalities, including trans women and Black women.

The campaign follows allegations of sexual abuse and harassment last month at Tyneside Cinema, in which staff complained that their allegations were not being taken seriously. Serious allegations were made on social media against serving staff, prompting almost 150 former and current staff to sign a letter demanding a change to the culture at the cinema. A petition, named “Save Tyneside Cinema & stop the board covering up sexual assault and bullying” was launched on Change.org. The hashtag #TynesUp and #MeToo were also seen trending on Twitter.

Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland, along with other users, welcomed the news that Tyneside Cinema is now launching an independent review into the allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, whilst others expressed disappointment at the cinema’s response.

One user, @ilovefluffy, tweeted: “This is not an adequate response to allegations of rape which were reported to Tyneside Cinema and brushed aside. The alleged rapist still works here. They still employ vulnerable people. They made an accuser discuss sexual offenses in a public space surrounded by strangers.”

It Happens Here Newcastle posted a statement about the allegations regarding Tyneside Cinema on their Facebook page. They said: ‘Tyneside’s complacency and ineptitude in their handlings of her report truly exemplifies the institutional misogynistic rape culture that continually silences the voices of brave survivors.”

Baugh explained Tyneside is not alone with this kind of damaging culture. During lockdown, club Filthy’s Newcastle posted a fake photo of a sexual-looking urinal, with the comment: “We’ve been busy during lockdown making minor improvements throughout the venue. We’re pleased to present the results of the new gents restroom.” Responses were a combination of outrage and those that supported Filthy’s post.

View this post on Instagram

TW: Sexism, Racism, Transphobia and Sexual Threats UPDATE: Sadly due to a large amount of abuse both publically and directed at her private account the original poster has had to remove her post. The abuse received ranges from sexist, to racist, to transphobic comments but also disgustingly extends to sexual threats being made against her. We have decided it is relevant for you all to not only still see the original post (with the Original Posters anonymity secured to ensure no further abuse occurs) but also, the abuse received for attempting to call it out. We also want to note that @filthysnewcastle have released an apology statement. In this statement they made claims that they are surprised by the news about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in nightlife and that is the reason for this "joke". They claim to never have reports of this kind. We want to clear up that throughout the industry a lack of reports does not indicate a lack of incidents, but in many cases a lack of trust. We are grateful for filthys agreeing to engage with us, but the comments on their apology are heavily critical and insulting to anyone who rightly was upset by these images, and no effort has been made to remove these – whereas negative reviews and comments from those who complained have been removed. . All venues need to do better to make nightlife a safer environment for students. Too many students do not feel safe in our cities bars and clubs and to dismiss it as not happening in your bar, is ignorant and damaging — hopefully this can be a lesson for all. . #BoycottFilthys Note: we are aware the posts have been taken down, however we still feel this is relevant. Also want to note (for clarity) that the venue has been in touch with the original poster, and by proxy us, privately to engage about their failings. We are hopeful this will be a positive opportunity for change. #newcastle #newcastlenightlife #ncl #survivors #rapeculture #sexism #misogyny #metoo #objectification #rape #sexualassault #ithappenshere #ihh #nusu #newcastleuni #boycottfilthys

A post shared by It Happens Here Newcastle (@ithappensherencl) on

Baugh said: “Our campaign is spring-boarding off of the Filthy’s post, because that just enables rape culture. It’s not enough to say ‘we’ve done some sexual violence training, that’s it, tick box’. If this repeatedly keeps happening and the management feel it’s appropriate to share stuff like this, then there’s a real issue.

Madeline Baugh, co-president of It Happens Here, Newcastle

It Happens Here Newcastle posted a statement about the picture on both their Facebook and Instagram. The statement read: “We are grateful for Filthy’s Newcastle agreeing to engage with us, but the comments on their apology are heavily critical and insulting to anyone who rightly was upset by these images, and no effort has been made to remove these – whereas negative reviews and comments from those who complained have been removed.”

Baugh says women should no longer have to endure misogynistic behaviour and that “these are real systemic issues, but they’re not ingrained into law.” She said: “It’s all very well slowly trying to change the mindset of people, but also trying to write that into law is such an uphill battle.”

With their interviews now conducted, the society are compiling the footage into a “buzz-feed style video”, which will be sent off to Newcastle city Centre with a letter.

Look out for updates on the campaign on Spill the Tea (we’ll be tracking their progress), as well as keeping in the loop on their Facebook and Instagram channels.

Featured image: 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

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