Ched Evans and all that

12 Nov

I want to start by saying that this blog post, a rare foray into social commentary, may well offend some people. I want to be clear first and foremost that I am writing based on my own personal thoughts, feelings and understandings and not representing anyone else in what I say. Secondly I want to ask that anyone reading this will read to the end and do so with an open mind and not react to the first thing that they do not agree with. I do not expect everyone to do this, but it would be nice to think that anyone commenting on what I have written will have read everything that I, rather than reacting after reading only part of my post.

Ok, so the subject.

Ched Evans, for those that don’t know, is a footballer who was recently released from prison after being convicted of raping a woman by virtue of the fact that he had sex with her while she was too drunk to actually consent to anything. You can find more information here, here, here, here, here and here on this story.

I have 3 main issues with what is going on in this sad tale, but before I get to them I want to make some things very clear.

First off I want to be very clear that rape is wrong, be that where there is definite non-consent and where consent is not given (I am not making any distinction, just clarifying what I mean). Sex as an act is something that should happen between 2 people (or more if so inclined) who both agree to it and who remain willing participants all the way through. Anyone who breaks this is, to my mind, a rapist and should fully expect the entire legal system to be brought to bear on them for such an act. I also want to make clear that whilst it may be argued by some that the victim should not have let herself get into such a state as to be out cold due to alcohol intake, this does not take away any of the responsibility of Ched Evans for his actions. Any time a person acts they are, unless legally declared otherwise, responsible for everything they say and do and should always remember that before acting. And the victim should always be remembered as being such, the victim of the actions of others. They should be supported in bringing the people that have violated them to justice and encouraged to get all the help they need to be able to get on with their lives as best as they can.

All that being said, I do have to admit that I am feeling a huge amount of pity for Ched Evans right now. And these are the reasons why:

1 – Whilst he did rape a woman, he was not alone in doing so.

Ched Evans was not alone, Clayton McDonald was also there at the time and also had sex with the victim, just before Ched Evans did. The evidence that was given by Evans and McDonald was that the victim said yes to Evans “getting involved” but regardless of whether that was true or not, McDonald was still someone who had sex with the victim while she was heavily under the influence of alcohol, making consent impossible in the eyes of the law. Everyone is going on about how Ched Evans is a rapist and yet they are forgetting that he was not alone, so I feel sorry for him for the fact that he is getting all the flack for something when he was not the only one involved.

2 – People are saying that Ched Evans shouldn’t even train with Sheffield United, let alone play for them again.

I’m sorry? Where does this come from? Evans has served the sentence that was allotted to him, with time off for good behaviour or whatever it was that meant he didn’t do the whole 5 years, as far as the system and society should be concerned that is all done and dusted and he should be allowed to get on with his life. A plumber doesn’t come out of prison and get told that he cannot be a plumber at his old firm after something that happened outside of work, does he? If he did something that meant that he could not be trusted by the firm to do the job properly I could understand it, but not something outside of work. Yet here we have people saying that someone who has been punished for a crime and served what was deemed to be a correct sentence by that same system cannot return to doing what he was doing before it all happened. The biggest problem for me in this is that if Sheffield United bow to this pressure then it sets a dangerous precedent as it means that no club will be likely to take Evans on, due to the potential loss of revenue if nothing else. And so we will be left with a young man, who has probably only got football to rely upon as an income, in need of work and unable to get any because people refuse to accept that the punishment has been served and taken. And why is this worrying? Because I am fairly certain that if Evans had killed a man because he was a threat to the life of his mother then there would be no call for him to not come back, as his actions would be seen as acceptable from a moral standpoint. Forget that he would have broken the law and that the law holds killing someone to be worse than rape in the grading that the law has, as defined by sentencing. Either we accept the punishment that is given and served or we ignore it and live in anarchy! Oh, and regarding the training, even if Sheffield United do bow to pressure how is letting Evans train a bad thing? Surely it means he has a chance of getting back into shape to be able to get work? Unless those who are taking issue really do want to see him run out of football altogether!

3 – Remorse

Ok, so to be clear on what the situation is Ched Evans has never admitted to raping the victim. He has claimed that it was always consensual and this has never changed despite the guilty verdict of the court. Now, whilst it would be great for the victim and her family to hear Evans admit to being guilty, we have to stop and realise 2 things:

  1. Ched Evans may well believe that he is innocent and that it was consensual
  2. The courts are not always correct

Now with the first issue, if you are convinced of something then why are you going to change your story? I believe in God. I don’t care if the entire scientific establishment declares that they have proved that God does not exist, as I am convinced that God exists. Why would I ever change my mind if I did not believe that the change is correct? The same must surely be considered when it comes to anyone who is convicted of a crime. Sure, there are some who refuse to admit their guilt despite being guilty and knowing that they are, but there are also those who truly believe that they are innocent, whether they are or not, and who refuse to bow to pressure simply because a court found them guilty. Ched Evans clearly believes that he is not guilty, so why would he say otherwise? And yet people are taking issue with a man who believes that he is innocent declaring this.

The second issue may seem like I am suggesting that Evans might be innocent. I want to be clear in saying that I cannot judge either way as I have not seen all the evidence that was presented to court, nor was I in the room when the event occurred. Therefore I am simply making the point that it is always possible for the courts to make a mistake. Just look at the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six, not to mention various other examples over time that show that the courts are not always right. So unless you know all the details, including being present during the event, surely you cannot judge anything beyond what has been said and done. So if Ched Evans has been found guilty by the courts, served his sentence (or at least as much as the system felt was required) and been released then surely that should be an end of it?!

 

So yes, I feel sorry for Ched Evans for all the above reasons. That he was not the only one involved, that he is, in effect, being told that he cannot return to the profession that he is trained for and that people don’t like that he has not admitted to any guilt or wrongdoing.

And yet these same people who speak out against Evans are almost certainly guilty of hypocrisy. Not because they will have committed the same crime that Evans was convicted of, but because they will most likely be picking and choosing what they do and don’t forgive. Some of them are also probably people who would, in another situation, call for the rehabilitation of people who have served their punishment. For example, one of the people speaking out against Ched Evans is the local Labour MP, Paul Blomfield. He has clearly forgotten that his party seeks to rehabilitate people and get them back to being productive members of society rather than have them being a burden upon it! And they are not the only party who are guilty of this, just look at Nick Clegg’s “input” into the situation.

So often people can also take issue with something that directly affects them, and yet when it comes to the principle of the matter they are more than likely to say that there should be acceptance of the sentence being served.

Now I could at this point make some comment about what the Bible says about forgiveness and moving forward, and I would be completely sincere in what I might say on the matter theologically. But, to be honest, the biggest issues I have are the ones I have highlighted, and no amount of theological insight is going to get rid of the fact that people are unfairly treating a man for something that he has been tried, convicted, sentenced and punished for. If nothing else, the issues should be with the system, not the man who has been dealt with by the system!

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3 Responses to “Ched Evans and all that”

  1. Les November 13, 2014 at 08:15 #

    Well put and the media need to look long and hard at their behaviour in all of this too as the hypocrisy and double standards in their midst is appalling. They are not judge and jury and they are not “the UK’s conscience” as some put it. Well done Phil.

  2. Serena (@serenastweeting) November 13, 2014 at 10:51 #

    I think you’ve obviously spent a lot of time thinking about this issue Phil, and I am sure that you are very sincere. However, you are a man. Now that doesn’t make your contribution any less valid than mine but it does mean that you may have a couple of ‘blind spots’ in your vision. If you haven’t then I do apologise (no offence is intended).

    I think perhaps some wider issues to consider (nothing is in a vacuum after all) are: consent, context and conduct. These may help provide some understanding as to why some are angry at the recent turn of events.

    1) Consent – If the other person says they did not give consent and sex takes place then that is rape. If a rapist believes that they are innocent and maintains that consent occurred even in the face of a conviction and the declaration of their sexual ‘partner’ then surely they are denying the other person the opportunity to choose whether they have consent or not and in fact are choosing for them? This reinforces the notion that one person’s ‘choice’ matters more than the other person. That, I believe, should not be defended. I don’t think you intended to infer that a man’s choice matters more than a woman’s but you did defend his assertion of innocence. That comes close.

    2) Context – sadly, we live in a fallen and broken world. A world in which women are regularly reminded that they are sexual objects (by the praise they receive as girls, comments from strangers on the street, treatment by others in nightclubs, messages in the media). It’s relentless and it’s systemic. It’s unfair and unjust. We are also reminded that being called a ‘girl’ is an insult to men. We are also reminded that a woman who is attacked can be blamed for being drunk, being alone, being ‘pretty’. All sorts of things collude (language, behaviour, beliefs) to remind women that they are not ‘people’ but are girls/objects/sexobjects in many people’s eyes. This wider context creates a tightrope for women to walk along – between whore and virgin, between slut and frigid, between ugly and sexy. There isn’t really a lot of room in between. Although this behaviour isn’t on, the church doesn’t say a lot about it. And we don’t often speak about sexual consent and conduct.

    3) Conduct – now, as you have mentioned, the convicted rapist denies guilt and it would appear shows no remorse for what has happened. Even if he did believe it was consensual, surely if he sees that damage has been done to the other person, why doesn’t he seem to acknowledge that? Reading it another way, it may seem that her experiences and her voice don’t matter. No apology? No recognition? I think there’s an added complexity to a sin-sinner-sinned relationship when there’s a lack of remorse.

    Thus, when a man who refuses the voice of his victim and enjoys all the privileges of a world where he is a man and can therefore use women as he wishes (as others around him do) and returns to a high profile job to re-take his place among the ‘role models’ for our young men, people are angry.

    Sure, there is one double-standard here – about forgiveness. I can see that. Another double-standard is that, as a woman, I can enjoy all the opportunities that life gives me but in the eyes of many men, I am nothing more than a piece of ass. Assault, intimidation and harassment will happen to people like me and when we cry out about it, many in the world will stick their fingers in their ears and let it continue to happen.

    I’ve included some articles (I don’t agree with all that they say but they may help):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture
    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/03/11/faq-what-is-male-privilege/
    http://amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-checklist/

    PS I admit – I am struggling not to be angry with Ched and others like him, for the above reasons. I am also mindful that you make a lot of good points in your article and want to thank you for writing it.

    • youthpasta January 10, 2015 at 21:45 #

      Hi Serena,
      Thank you for replying and apologies that this reply comes so long after yours.
      I must admit that the main reason I didn’t reply straight away was that the comments about my gender was actually quite offensive, because it relegated my thoughts on the matter to a lesser position than those of a woman. However, that said maybe this link will deal with that issue, as the article is written by a woman and speaks pretty much to a tee regarding how I feel about the issue:
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-health/11330571/Reason-plays-no-part-in-the-Ched-Evans-saga.html

      Regarding your 3 points, I would say the following:
      1 – Consent
      That is actually a very facile way of looking at it, as a couple could have consensual sex and then one could decide to report the other for rape, simply out of spite. By your definition that is rape, because one of the pair has declared there was no consent, but the truth in the example is very much the opposite. Alternatively, as one of the stories in the above article comments, there could be times when a couple have consensual sex, then drink to excess and one of them forgets about the consent and makes a report. Their lack of memory does not remove the fact that consent was given at the time, yet by your definition it is classified as rape, which is, again, the opposite of what actually happened.
      You are right that I believe that both parties in a sexual encounter have the right to withhold consent, neither should be allowed to dictate to the other what their response is. But this does not take away from the fact that it is possible to have a consensual encounter and either maliciously declare there was no consent, or have no memory of giving consent. In addition, given that the victim was already not in the best of states (for want of a better phrase) when her encounter with Clayton McDonald the fact that McDonald was cleared and yet Evans was convicted is the biggest stink in all this. If she was so drunk that she was being propped up when she entered the room with McDonald then she was surely raped by McDonald as well. But the court decided that only Ched Evans was to blame. Surely you can see that this is in no way fair to him. Either both should have been convicted or both should have been set free.
      2 – Context
      I wholeheartedly agree with everything that you have said. It is a huge issue in this world that people say they want to see it dealt with and yet hardly anything gets done. However, that does not mean that the first high profile opportunity that comes along should be used with no attention being paid to fair treatment under the law. The drunken swine who groped and harassed a friend of mine on New Year’s Eve, of the man who molested the daughter of a friend of mine a few months back on the underground, and all those like them, should all be had up on charges for acting like they do, as it is repugnant and needs to be dealt with, so rest assured that we are in complete agreement on how men and society treat women in the broad sense.
      3 – Conduct
      Yes, an apology that all this has happened would be great. Once the appeal is done there may well come one. Not saying that this is the best way to do it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his legal team has told him not to apologise yet as it would not help his case.
      As the article I have linked says, an apology in relation to what the victim has gone through would be highly appropriate, particularly after what she has gone through in the aftermath of all this. But again, you have to remember that this is a man who has been convicted of something that he says he didn’t do and is fighting to clear his name. All he is thinking about is how he has been wronged and fixing that, so whilst it is frustrating that he hasn’t said anything to the victim about what has happened, it is hardly surprising given the situation. Surely the true test is to see what he does after the legal proceedings have finished.

      One final thing I would point to is the appalling behaviour of some people who have campaigned against Ched Evans, particularly those who have threatened rape on people related to Oldham officials and, I believe, also some at Sheffield United. There is a supreme, and disgusting, irony in people campaigning against a convicted rapist by threatening rape on those that might help him to rehabilitate himself!
      And the saddest thing about these incidents? Those who have been kicking up the fuss in public, particularly the high profile figures and celebrities, have not been heard standing up against this kind of abuse. The whole saga is a very sad and depressing one, with all the flaws of humanity on display for the whole world to see, and it is highly frustrating that the way that so many have reacted is to direct their anger so poorly.

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