***Content warning – may be triggering in relation to sexual assault and rape***
I wanted to write something briefly on this in solidarity with the opening up of pain and frustration I have seen from lots and lots of women I admire and value and love in the last day. I also felt like I wanted to respond to the post I have seen shared a lot in which a lawyer explains the due process of the case here https://thesecretbarrister.com/2016/10/14/10-myths-busted-about-the-ched-evans-case/
I think one of the things that really stands out for me about the case is the next message in which Evans’ friend tells him he has “got” a woman. Because a drunk very young woman who you spot staggering around alone at the end of a night is, like a packet of cigarettes or a pizza or some class A drugs, a commodity you can use to make your night that little bit better, who your friend is welcome, as you are friends, to share, and why not allow another couple of friends to try and film her too?
I’ve got off lightly compared to many women I know in a culture where we teach little girls and little boys that women’s bodies are objects. I’ve never been sexually assaulted unless you count things like being grabbed from behind between the legs getting up to get off the bus, or being groped in nightclubs (standard). I’ve never been raped. The closest I ever came was one night, alone, after drinking a bit (sound familiar?) when I got into what I thought was a taxi. It wasn’t. The driver took me to a deserted car-park and locked the doors, and told me he would let me out once I had sucked his penis. I didn’t, and eventually he must have lost his nerve and let me out. I never reported it because I didn’t want to open myself up to having my own actions dissected. It took me a little while to stop avoiding cabs even when that meant walking long distances but it is nothing compared to the experiences many of my friends have had.
The second thing which stands out to me is the way men from her past were paid large sums of money to give evidence that while having sex with her, she used the words “f*** me harder”. It’s been pointed out that this is something with legal precedent in these types of cases and therefore feminist outrage over a return to examining complainants sexual history is a misinterpretation. I believe in the principle of due process but the idea that legal precedent should overrule or silence an equalities argument is incredibly frustrating. Justice is only a part of the legal system – it also acts to police social norms in relation to power. I don’t find it surprising that a very drunk very young woman would say this to a footballer in a culture where young people learn a lot of sex from porn (and I also don’t think with CONSENTING adults there is any judgement to be made on any sex both want). But it confuses me that:
- Her saying this was meant to be evidence she was consenting, when the crux of whether consent was given was on whether she would appear to reasonable eyes to be much too intoxicated TO consent. Are we saying women too intoxicated to consent must now be incomprehensible with drunkenness?
- Secondly, if she DID say f me harder, surely that implies sex was already taking place at the point where consent allegedly happens, which implies consent can now be given post-insertion. No.
We have to keep fighting this stuff. Solidarity and love to all of you who are.