I’m loathe to write a blog about Ched Evans, given the fact that everyone else has written about him, and also because it’s about the most straightforward thing you could ever write about. It transcends an opinion piece, because an opinion piece suggests several truths and in this case there is only one:
A man had sex with a woman who was too drunk to definitively consent. Sex without consent is rape. The end.
There is nothing remotely interesting about this case. We’ve seen women defend their spousal rapists before. We’ve seen family members defend their rapist relatives before. I mean – to a very slight extent – there is something very unusual that it is not the crime they’re disputing, but whether or not what occurred actually constitutes a crime. They have been told, in a criminal court case, at subsequent appeal hearings, and by everyone with even the slightest sense of humanity and intellectual comprehension that rape does not fall within a narrow set of behaviours, but is an umbrella term for sex without consent. That should make it easier for people, and yet it doesn’t.
The Justice for Ched Evans campaign have systematically embarrassed themselves for over three years and much more significantly, have hounded the rape victim to an extent where she has been given a new identity after being labelled a slag and worse by fellow footballers, and others.
Recently released, there is some debate about whether or not Ched Evans should be allowed to play football again, and the answer is: he absolutely shouldn’t. Many job vacancies aren’t open to criminals – even as minimum wage employees – this is an additional price convicted criminals often pay for crime, and personally I’m not sure this is fair, but it is a resounding truth. The idea, however, that someone earning many times over the minimum wage in a highly competitive industry and being held up as an example for young people should continue gainful employment in the same industry after being convicted of rape, is abhorrent and offensive.
The fact is though, he will continue to play football. We hear about the humanity in second chances. We only really hear about the beauty of second chances when it comes to crimes like rape and domestic violence and a plethora of misogynistic crimes, and the reason we hear about the power of the second chance is because those calling for it are usually indulging their own latent misogyny.
We do not – for example – hear about giving second chances to convicted terrorists and bank robbers. We also, as a society, tend to overlook the systemic issues affecting drug addicts and the reasons they burglarise us. No, the alarming charitable consideration afforded to people like Ched Evans is because misogynists want to indulge other misogynists.
I will not spend any time while I’m writing this focussing on the victim. Much has been made of comments she made after she was raped, but these are irrelevant. Equally, so is her intoxication. I have been very, very drunk in my lifetime, and the chances are, so have you. I do not deserve to be raped. If what we are asking of women is to never be vulnerable to potential rapists, it would rule out almost every conceivable activity on the planet. Women have been raped at work, at school, as children, by teachers, by doctors, by nurses, by spending short amounts of time with celebrities… why do we still consider it reasonable to critique the behaviours of rape victims, as opposed to the rapist every single fucking time?
What knickers did she have on? How drunk was she? How many boyfriends has she had?
Michael Buerk this week said that Ched Evans’ rape victim, “deserved no credit due to her being drunk.” And Judy Finnegan (I just feel like smacking my fucking head on a wall repeatedly when it’s a woman) said on Loose Women this week that the rape was, “Unpleasant…” but then added that the victim had “…had too much to drink.”
Why is the girl the issue? Why has the victim in this case – and many other rape cases – been centralised? What behaviours could we be looking at? What do we all agree as a society are the sort of behaviours and sexual history that constitute reason for someone being able to have sex with you without your express consent?
There’s a prevailing sense that some rapes are more rapey than others, when they aren’t. There’s also an idea – usually proposed by men, and even sung about by Robin Thicke – that sexual consent isn’t always explicit and overt and that there is ambiguity in sexual consent.
There never is.
If there’s any ambiguity, ask. If there’s still ambiguity, don’t.
There was also some talk by Judy Finnegan about violence and brutality.
Rape is always a violent act, because it’s a violation. It’s a violation if you fucked the person half an hour earlier when they consented and now they don’t. It’s a violation if you’re married, or in a relationship. It’s a violation if you’re on a date, if the girl is absolutely hammered, or if you’re high. Sex without consent is about power, control and violating someone. Rape is used in war and in prisons as a mode of brutalisation. So regardless of whether or not someone is known to you, has chased you down an alley, or got into bed with you after you came home drunk with their mate… if you are incapable of, or have not given your consent, you’ve been raped and therefore brutalised.
But as I say, I didn’t want to blog about Evans. I didn’t want to write about Ched Evans mostly because he’s a thick, rapist. He’s from a family of thick, rapist-apologist bores and they’ve all already had too much of our attention. We’ve indulged them into thinking there is any debate whatsoever about whether or not Ched is a rapist. There isn’t, because he is.
The Justice for Ched campaign – never a more profoundly ridiculous title was given to a group of such inbred, woman-haters since the Tea Party Movement in North America – don’t dispute the act. Their problem is that they don’t know what rape is.
Ched Evans’ mother this week had the audacity to claim Ched had been a victim of online feminists, of which I am one. I find it hard to afford her any compassion, because more crucially I’m a mother. I love my son unconditionally, and would continue to love him if he’d raped someone. But I would live the rest of my life in absolute torment to have raised a creature who thought so little of a woman that he would think it legitimate to not garner consent to have sex with her, rape her and let me spend over three years making a mockery out of other women and myself by trying to defend him.
The thing is, Ched could spend the next ten years playing magnificent football. He could win World Cups (unlikely – Welsh) and live in extravagant mansions with a steady stream of pretty women after he inevitably bins off this one who’s made a holy show of herself for three years (although he’s probably going to have to marry her first), and he could get hundreds of awards and accolades. But ultimately, it’s not online feminists who convicted Ched Evans, it’s the British Justice System. The British Justice System who only ever manage to jail around 3% of actual rapists, so it’s fairly fucking conclusive.
No, if I were Mrs Evans I’d ask why I failed in my duty to raise a son who didn’t rape women. Perhaps if she were the sort of woman who had a clearer understanding of what rape constitutes, she’d have been able to impart this on her thick rapist son, and maybe… just maybe… none of us would have had to endure this ridiculous, non-existent debate.