Harming Women with Words: The Failure of Australian Law to Prohibit Gendered Hate Speech

(2018) 41(3) UNSW Law Journal 939

38 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2018

See all articles by Tanya D’Souza

Tanya D’Souza

Supreme Court of Victoria

Laura Griffin

La Trobe Law School

Nicole Shackleton

La Trobe Law School, Students

Danielle Walt

La Trobe University

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

In Australia, gendered hate speech against women is so pervasive and insidious that it is a normalised feature of everyday public discourse. It is often aimed at silencing women, and hindering their ability to participate effectively in civil society. As governmental bodies have recognised, sexist and misogynist language perpetuates gender-based violence by contributing to strict gender norms and constructing women as legitimate objects of hostility. Thus, gendered hate speech, like other forms of hate speech, produces a range of harms which ripple out beyond the targeted individual. The harmful nature of vilification is recognised by the various Australian laws which prohibit or address other forms of hate speech. But as we map out in this article, gendered hate speech is glaringly absent from most of this legislation. We argue that by failing to address gendered hate speech, Australian law permits the marginalisation of women and girls, and actively exacerbates their vulnerability to exclusion and gender-based harm.

Suggested Citation

D’Souza, Tanya and Griffin, Laura and Shackleton, Nicole and Walt, Danielle, Harming Women with Words: The Failure of Australian Law to Prohibit Gendered Hate Speech (2018). (2018) 41(3) UNSW Law Journal 939. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3267071

Tanya D’Souza

Supreme Court of Victoria

Victoria
Australia

Laura Griffin

La Trobe Law School ( email )

La Trobe University
Bundoora, VIC 3083 3142
Australia
+61 3 9479 5891 (Phone)

Nicole Shackleton (Contact Author)

La Trobe Law School, Students ( email )

La Trobe University
Bundoora, VIC 3083 3142
Australia

Danielle Walt

La Trobe University

Victoria 3552, 3086
Australia

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