I have been putting off writing about one particular subject over the past few weeks. Rape culture. When I first started this blog, I wrote a post talking about the sexual abuse and manipulation that was going on within YouTube, which is unfortunately still an ongoing issue within the community. However, despite the new allegations that were made this week I am not going to be talking about YouTube in this post. Today I would like to talk about Ched Evans. There is so much that I would like to say about this horrible situation, however I shall try to be concise. It has come to a point where I feel that this issue needs to be addressed on my blog.
Since his release from jail, the main question surrounding the case is, will Evans be returning to Sheffield United? As some of you will know, yesterday they made the decision to allow him to practice with the team again. I truly believe that this is the next step to allowing him back onto the team for good. This cannot happen.
According to his sentence, Ched Evans is a rapist. In the eyes of the law, he is a sex offender. Despite his continuous pleas of “not guilty”, until it is otherwise proven, he is a sex offender. The ‘facts’ are that he had sex with a 19 year old woman who was too drunk give consent. Evans believes that the sex was consensual. A woman (or a man) cannot give consent when they are drunk, and “R” (as the victim is referred to) was drunk.
For those of you who don’t believe that she was really drunk…she had drunk before leaving her house, and again at a bar. She had drunk so much that she didn’t remember much after leaving the bar. She didn’t remember having sex with either Evans or McDonald – they both confirmed that she did have sex with them. CCTV footage showed her stumbling around, leaving her handbag in a kebab shop and being escorted to the hotel by McDonald in a dishevelled state. There is no doubt that she was far too drunk to consent. McDonald even sent a text to Evans, which read something along the lines of, “I’ve got a bird”.
McDonald has been cleared of rape, so I am not going to talk about him. However, Evans was convicted, and this is where I have the problem. How can a football club take back an ex-player who has been jailed for raping a woman? How can they think that this is acceptable? Their actions trivialise sexual violence against women and they’re basically taking a massive step backwards. We live in a world where rape is a part of our culture. There is catcalling in the streets, people are harassed on a daily basis at work and in schools and universities, people get raped and their attackers get away with it.
Another aspect of this case that has really upset me is the way that Evans’ family has handled the situation. Of course they will want to support him in any way they can – he is going through a rough time right now (even if he did bring it on himself…) However, releasing footage of R and also exposing her identity is unacceptable. Rape victims have the right to anonymity. They took that right away from her when they released her name and when they posted video footage of her on their website. If they truly want to try to clear Evans’ name, they are going about it the wrong way.
Yet another big issue that I have had with this case is the victim blaming that has occurred. She is the victim. Whether Evans’ fans and family want to believe that or not is their prerogative, however they should keep their toxic opinions to themselves and never blame the victim. Whether they like it or not, according to the law he is the culprit. I know I’ve said it before, but he is – legally – the one in the wrong. People ask why women (and men) don’t come forward about sexual assaults. This is why. The reaction that they get from the public is why. Not only are they forced to re-live their assault when going through the court process, but they are also rarely believed and the attacker is rarely arrested. The victim is treated like the perpetrator and the rapist is treated like the victim.
I think that this case has a lot to say for football culture too. A few weeks ago I was doing a bit of research on women in sport and how they are portrayed. I put together this little photo…
Now what differences do you see between the two different Google searches? I won’t treat you like children, it’s clear; the articles on the left focus on the men’s skills. The articles on the right focus on the women’s sexual appeal. The women’s ability to please the male species’ eyes. The objectification of women. These five articles are the first to come up on Google when typing in “Male Footballers” and “Female Footballers”, respectively.
(Here is a link to the original post where I explain the contents of each link in more detail)
This is not okay. The football community view women as objects, as pretty things to look at. They are rarely judged on their actual abilities and skills. Did you know a female journalist was almost fired because she was “too attractive” and was “distracting the footballers”. By letting Evans off, by allowing him back on the squad, they are making the statement that rape is a forgivable offence. They are putting him back in the limelight, as someone for young aspiring footballers to look up to, as someone for 11 year olds to cheer when he scores a goal. They are reinforcing the idea that women do not matter, that they are only good for their bodies, or what they can give to a man, and that the men will be forgiven if they rape someone. It is normalising rape which cannot be allowed.
Evans even said in his video message that being able to play professional football is a “rare privilege”. It’s a privilege, not a right. When you do something so badly wrong, you have to face the consequences. When you rape someone, you can’t go back to your normal life as if nothing ever happened. When you do something wrong, your privileges are taken away. For good.
I think I am going to end this one here. The post is getting long, and I feel that I have probably repeated myself more than once! I would never normally “ask for comments” or whatever, but I feel like this is something that needs to be discussed, so I encourage you to talk about this is the comments below. I hope that this makes sense.
Thank you for reading, and I’ll speak to you again tomorrow.