I’ve noticed this over and over again. When politically incorrect crimes are involved (gun law violations, hate speech, hate crimes, rape accusations, domestic violence, this-or-that denialism, accusations of sex trafficking, right-wing rioting), the “soft on crime” progressives suddenly do an about-face and start to rival Lee Kuan Yew in their enthusiasm for law and order. Even drug laws and police brutality are mostly just issues they try to exploit for purposes of fanning racial conflict as a vehicle for achieving political power.
By Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason
The last few years have seen a strong, often bipartisan push for criminal justice reform. But certain categories of criminalized acts—those perceived as primarily harming women and girls—have been nearly immune from that spirit.
“Those most vocal about prison reform are also often the most punitive about gendered offenses, even minor ones,” writes Aya Gruber, a law professor at the University of Colorado, in her recent book The Feminist War on Crime (University of California Press). Gruber, a former public defender, worries that “women’s criminal law activism [has] not made prosecution and punishment more feminist” but instead has “made feminism more prosecutorial and punitive.”
There are generations of precedent for that. From the suffragists who played up xenophobic fears through Clinton-era feminists’ zeal for sex offender registries, several waves of feminists have contributed to the carceral state. But that alliance isn’t inevitable. Another recent book—The Feminist and the Sex Offender (Verso), by journalist Judith Levine and Northeastern Illinois University professor Erica R. Meiners—suggests that if “one kind of feminism helped get us into this mess,” perhaps “a different kind of feminism is key to getting us out.” This alternative feminist movement would work with, not against, the movements to stop mass incarceration and to protect sex offenders’ rights.