The Ched Evans case and rape myths

swsl:

The recent jailing of Ched Evans has brought the worst out in many people, and Twitter has given them the perfect platform to air their views. The #justiceforched hashtag has, in particular, seen some very familiar rape myths put forward.

Most of the people dismissing the case against Evans are doing so on the basis that the victim was a ‘moneygrabber’. I’m not sure where they think this money is coming from however. She has not waived her right to anonymity, and has not sold her story to anyone. There’s no indication that she ever intended to. There’s no payout coming her way anytime soon as a result of being raped.

Confusingly for many the other defendant in the case, Clayton MacDonald, was acquitted. Some cannot seem to grasp the idea that she could have consented to sex with one man without consenting to him calling his friends to come over and have sex with her too. Similarly I’ve seen tweets along the lines of ‘obviously what ched evans did was wrong, but I don’t think the girl is entirely innocent, so many girls beg it off footballers its unreal’ (grammar is the tweeter’s own). So, since loads of women want to sleep with footballers this woman should, what? Have wanted it? Have expected it? Count herself lucky that not one, but two footballers slept with her whether she wanted it or not?

Some writers have picked up on these tweets and referred to ‘rape culture’ but even on sites like The Guardian’s Comment is Free, the mere phrase ‘rape culture’ has been dismissed in the comments. There’s a refusal to accept that just because some ‘idiots’ on Twitter are making these comments that there is a ‘culture’ at play - but I honestly don’t see how you can argue it’s any other way. The sheer volume of tweets in support of Evans speaks of nothing else. The hatred towards the woman who accused him is tangible, not least because she was tracked down and named online, and subsequently accidentally named on Sky News. Her legal right to anonymity has been trampled on by the very people who accuse her of being fame-hungry and publicity seeking. The hypocrisy is staggering and there’s a clear trend towards people refusing to believe that having sex with a woman too drunk to consent is rape. 

Similarly many of the tweeters saying she should have been responsible for her own actions in getting drunk are the self-professed ‘lads’ - the same types who frequent sites like Unilad that actively encourage preying on drunk and vulnerable young students. If you perpetuate a lad culture where the aim of an evening is to get a girl drunk so you can have sex with her, then don’t be surprised if she passes the level where she can consent to sex with you and you’re later accused of rape. It’s not because she’s a slag/whore/bitch. It’s because that’s what you’ve done. 

A large number of tweets have also accused the woman of merely regretting having sex with these men and therefore accused them of rape. She would have been subjected to lengthy questioning by police, a physical exam, the stress of testifying in court, cross-examination by the defence and at all stages had her version of the night queried while everyone wonders how drunk she was, how had she behaved and could she be trusted. All that just because she regretted having sex? Really? Surely just trying to put it out of mind would’ve been a lot easier. And people wonder why so few women do report rape. They’re not believed when they do and they’re vilified if there is a successful conviction.

Nita Dowell, senior crown prosecutor in Wales, said “It is a myth that being vulnerable through alcohol consumption means that a victim is somehow responsible for being raped. The law is clear: being vulnerable through drink or drugs does not imply consent”. It’s about time this message go through to young men. 

Image above is from Rape Crisis Scotland’s campaign working to end sexual violence and can be found on their website.

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