THours after a fatal attack on members of the public are heartbreaking. Confusion reigns, rumors swirl, and anxious people try to contact their loved ones to make sure they are safe. Last Thursday night, when reports of shooting and possible deaths began to circulate at a housing estate in Plymouth, the question of whether it was a terrorist incident was at the forefront of everyone’s mind. When the Devon and Cornwall police announced that it was unrelated to terrorism, I wondered how they could be so sure, and their judgment has been challenged by everything that has emerged since then.
We now know that 22-year-old Jake Davison was a misogynist who shot and killed his mother, who had recently been treated for cancer, before taking the lives of four other people. There are parallels between Plymouth and the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut in 2012, when Adam Lanza shot his mother five times before going to an elementary school where he killed 20 children and six adults, all women. It is not the first time that the significance of extreme misogyny in the genesis of a fatal attack on members of the public seems to have been overlooked.
It’s hard to see how Davison’s actions fall short of the government’s requirements. definition terrorism, which includes “the use of threats or actions … to intimidate the public.” Examples include serious violence against one or more people, endangering someone’s life, or creating a serious risk to the health and safety of the public – ticks, ticks, and ticks. But here is the exit clause. The definition stipulates that terrorism must have “the purpose of promoting a political, religious, racial or ideological cause” and it is often argued that even the most extreme misogyny does not meet that test.
It seems that his deadly interaction with other forms of extremism is little known, something that struck me hard after the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017. Five years earlier, Salman Abedi was already showing signs of radicalization, but the significance of his assault on a La Young Muslim woman in college was not recognized. Abedi Perforated her on the head for wearing a short skirt, almost knocking her out in front of witnesses. It was an act of staggering brutality, displaying a toxic combination of misogyny and loyalty to Islamist ideology, along with a low threshold for violence. However, Abedi was not charged. Greater Manchester Police dealt with the incident through restorative justice and Abedi acknowledged the anger management issues, avoiding a referral to the terrorism prevention program. In what appears to be an example of repeating history, it has been revealed that the Devon and Cornwall police recently restored Davison’s firearms license, which he lost in December, after he agreed to participate in a training course. anger management.
However, Davison made no secret of his seething resentment towards women, posting hateful tirades on YouTube. He compared himself to the “incels,” involuntary celibates, angry young men who blame women for their inability to have sex and revealed an obsession with guns. In a video uploaded three weeks before the shootings, he came close to justifying the sexual violence. “Why do you think sexual assaults and all these things keep increasing?” he demanded in a 10-minute spiel, stating that “women no longer need men.” One of the questions that Devon and Cornwall police must answer is whether they were aware of the content of Davison’s social media posts when his license was returned to him.
In North America, incels have been linked to white supremacy, in addition to being responsible for the murders of about 50 people. In Canada, his ideology has been designated as a form of violent extremism following an attack on a Toronto massage parlor last year in which a woman was stabbed to death at the hands of a 17-year-old boy. It was the second such attack in the city in two years, after a self-described incel ran over a van to pedestrians in 2018, killing 10 people.
In the UK, however, misogyny is not even widely recognized as the driving force behind violence against women. Over and over, we hear of men who allegedly “just broke up” and killed their female partners in what police describe as “domestic” and “isolated” incidents. Not so isolated, since 1,425 women were killed by men in the UK between 2009 and 2018, but we are expected to believe that such killings cannot be predicted or stopped. In fact, it is rare for a woman to be killed by a current or former partner with no history of domestic abuse.
Hatred of women is normalized, dismissed as an obsession of feminists, even when its horrible consequences are staring us in the face. In June of last year, two sisters, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, were killed in a north London park by a teenager. Danyal Hussein, now 19, had been referred to Prevent after using the school’s computers to access the right-wing websites, but was discharged after a few months with no further concerns. What he seems to have overlooked is his virulent misogyny, which led him to make a “pact” with a “demon” to kill six women in six months.
Five years ago, I began to notice how many men who committed fatal terrorist attacks had a history of misogyny and domestic abuse – in other words, practicing at home. No one would listen, so I wrote a book about it, listing around 50 perpetrators who had previously terrorized their current and former partners. It was published in 2019 and inspired a groundbreaking investigation by counterterrorism police, which shows that nearly 40% of referrals to the Prevent program had a history of domestic abuse, such as perpetrators, witnesses or victims. The Starlight Project has produced a series of recommendations, arguing that counterterrorism agents should look for evidence of violence against women when assessing the risk posed by suspects.
This is a positive development, but we have to go further. We are all in shock after hearing about the horrific events in Plymouth, while the grief of the victims’ families is terrible to behold. But Davison’s murderous rampage shows that our understanding of what constitutes terrorism is too restrictive. Extreme misogyny must be recognized as an ideology in its own right, and one that carries an unacceptable risk of radicalizing bitter youth.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism