Consent and Ched Evans

Saturday, 15 October 2016

I feel that as a feminist and as a woman I should write about the recent developments that I'm sure you all know about. This month misogyny and issues with consent have all come to a head it seems, beginning with Donald Trumps comments about women and then the recent retrial of Ched Evans wherein he was found "not guilty". I don't really want to write about it. I don't feel that I'm entirely qualified but mainly because it depresses me more than I can stand. 

But I should talk about it. Because I am a woman alive and breathing in this rape culture. Because it's frightening and appalling and I'm afraid for women.

Ched Evans was found guilty of raping a drunk woman in 2011 in a hotel room. The woman who was raped was found falling over outside a kebab shop. Clayton Mcdonald, another footballer, took the woman back to Ched Evans' hotel room and text him saying he'd "got a bird". Clayton Mcdonald was having sex with the woman when Evans joined in and two other people watched from the window. Evans claimed the woman consented despite the fact that he didn't once speak to her before, during or after the event. The woman woke the next morning with no knowledge of what happened. This is what the Guardian wrote:

The woman told the jury she woke up naked in a hotel room in Rhyl, north Wales, in May 2011 with no memory of what had happened but fearing that her drinks had been spiked. Friends encouraged her to go to the police, and officers found out that the room in which she woke up had been booked and paid for by Evans. He was questioned, and both he and his friend and fellow footballer Clayton McDonald said they had consensual sex with the woman.

Image from What Does Consent Look Like?

To me, this seems like a fairly easy one to call. If she could not remember what had happened, then she could not consent to sex.

That seems simple to me. I do not know how, in a situation where you have seen a woman falling over, very apparently drunk, you then decide its okay to take her home and have sex with her. Clearly that woman is not in the right mind, and needs to go home and rest. If you are a decent fucking human being, you do not try to have sex with her. 

As I said, Evans was recently found not guilty of rape due to new evidence. That new evidence was the woman's sexual history, which is so wrong I can barely stand it. Basically, witnesses came forward to say that the girl who was raped was very confident in bed, and used a phrase (fuck me harder) that was consistent with Evans' account. And on that account he was cleared. Her using that phrase makes his rape okay. The retrial seems to have ignored the very central fact that she was so drunk she couldn't remember anything. We seem to have gone back hundreds of years in a day, because we can now begin to use a woman's "promiscuity" to judge whether or not she can consent to sex. 


The two cannot simply be connected. A woman can sleep with a hundred men, as long as she wants to. As long as she enthusiastically and very clearly says "yes I want this" or words to this affect, then it's consensual sex. If she hasn't said it, ask her. If those words are incoherent, if that woman is falling over, if a woman cannot remember the things that she has just said, you should leave her alone. If she still wants to fuck you, she'll let you know when she's sober.

I have been so drunk I could barely stand. I have been so drunk that I've swore at my friends and cried on the street with a subway. I have been walked home by a man whilst I was drunk who was very clearly not drunk. What happened in those situations? I was put in a taxi and sent home. I was walked safely to my door by a stranger and went to bed alone. And you know what that makes me? Lucky...

A lot of the people who're supporting Evans are saying the woman lied about what happened to her and therefore she should be punished. I want to highlight that this verdict was based on twelve people's opinions. Twelve people who were not there on the night. Just because someone is deemed "not guilty" does not make that fact. I understand why someone might find a contradiction in this paragraph. I'm aware that rape cases are messy and difficult and the only people that truly know what happened were the people involved. But what this case proves is that we need to be taught about consent.

This is a long post already and I don't know how much more I can say without my brain imploding. There's a lot more information you can read about it if you clink on the links on this post. It's really highlighted to me that we are no where near equality when women can still be shamed and punished for sleeping with a lot of people. That rape culture is still alive and thriving and people really do hate women. 

Thanks for reading

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