Ched Evans Wins A Case Through Victim Blaming

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Last week, systematic victim blaming meant that Ched Evans was found not guilty of raping a 19-year-old girl in a retrial where he was previously found guilty. Through his ‘privilege’ allowing him to buy the power of victim blaming the woman.

In this trial, the victim has been subjected to what every rape victim fears. The endless questioning of her past actions that ultimately convinced the jury of Evans’ innocence.

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According to RapeCrisis UK statistics, only 15% of those who experience sexual violence report it to police and only 5.7% of those reported end in successful convictions. So for Evans to have been brought to court makes me think there was a strong amount of truth and justification for this girl to report Evans.

In the wake of the innocent ruling, the girl has been torn down as a manipulative, lying ‘slag’. With no reference to the grey area of consent this fell into – with the girl having no memory of the incident. On top of this, Evans admitted to not speaking to the girl at any point.

The crux of the case balanced upon the new key witnesses of the case that were brought in by Evans’ expensive private investigation team. The witnesses that made Evans’ lawyers enact the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence act to enable victim blaming questioning of the girl on her sexual past.

This private investigation team found since the first sentencing that the girl had had sex with two men, one in the days before the incident and one in the days after. The claims that turned this case was that one man said she insisted he ‘ripped her clothes off’ and told him to ‘go harder’. This matched the statement given by Evans that he said proved it was consensual, with the girl encouraging him to ‘go harder’ and therefore proving consent.

This was the key point which led the judge to rule that these past relationships undermined the victim’s claims and helped the jury reach the not guilty verdict.

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The victim was subjected to such blatant victim blaming. She has been defined as a girl who enjoyed sex, who in coded terms was called a ‘slut’ and could by no means say no to sex.

The blame had been turned from Evans – who had sex with a very drunk girl without saying a word to her – to the woman who had woken up disorientated in a strange place with no memory of the previous night.

Evans’ chance to quash his guilty verdict and to drag the victim through the mud was based around his reputation and wealth. It gave him the ability to fund a private investigation and £50,000 rewards to any witnesses that could help. So the money and power of Evans’ side was what ultimately trumped the victim’s innocence – and her right to dignity and protection.

In the retrial, based on this new evidence, it was decided that drunk consent is still consent and therefore it was not a case of rape.

The problem is, that the concerning effects of this trial does not stop here. Evans is a professional footballer playing for the likes of Manchester City in the past and Evans’ involvement in this hyper-masculine environment creates an ultimately more damaging level to this case.

Going back to when Evans was a convicted rapist, he was allowed back at training at football club Sheffield United. This was a move widely criticised across the board, but was defended tooth and nail by many football fans.

It is these fans that responded with vitriol to the recent court findings with victim blaming rhetoric. Celebrating the innocent verdict, and how ‘they always knew’ Evans was innocent and the ‘manipulative slag’ should be either imprisoned or killed.

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This alone disregards the fact that this verdict is judged around the grey area of consent, and that the girl is not lying but cannot remember due to her believing her drink was spiked. This should result in a call to detailed education on consent, and not a win against these ‘feminazis’.

This woman had a traumatic experience which resulted in her believing she had been raped, and Evans’ took advantage of a woman who he did not receive explicit consent from despite her questionable state. If it has not been ruled as rape, it was definitely a case of Evans taking advantage of a vulnerable woman – and this should be what is taken away from this. He was put on trial due to raping a woman due to his lack of knowledge and awareness around consent.

Women already fear reporting sexual crimes due to the culture of disbelief, the traumatising cross-examining and the essential witch hunt that follows them – despite being a victim.

The victim is now 24 and has had to change her name five times, after being sought out by twitter trolls who published her name online. She has received death threats and had to move away from her home, losing precious time with her mother who died recently.

In the face of all this, she was then failed by the justice system on several counts and Evans was found not guilty in the wake of her sexual past.

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This case is worrying in the fact that it is a rarity that a rape case is brought to trial, let alone for a guilty verdict to be given. For that to then be quashed, and then have the victim dragged through the mud due to the power of money and reputation of the accused is only a win for rape culture.

This will give significant rise to misogyny as an example that will be drawn upon as ‘proof’ to why another rape victim could be lying. The fact that a verdict relied purely upon the victim blaming and sexual shaming of the victim, and was ultimately successful for the accused, is going to bring worrying trends in the face of rape cases.

Yet another reason for rape victims to not report their case. For the fear that their sexual history will be flagged up, they won’t be believed – and now this high-profile case gives ammunition to all those misogynist, victim blaming people who jump to shout ‘liar’.

This should not be a case that highlights ‘lying rape victims’, but one that underlines the need for consent to be clarified in more confusing situations. Consent is not always as clear cut as it is made out to be, and the responsibility falls on the person making sexual advances to clarify consent when it is not crystal clear.

Ched Evans wrongly held the power in this trial and used that to shame the victim and win the case. This will work to strengthen rape culture, when it should be seen as evidence for compulsory consent education.

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Rio 2016: Olympian Level Of Sexism

Women in sport have never been far away from the Olympian level of sexism which follows them in their chosen industry. They are never allowed to forget that they are competing in a man’s world; in a man’s game.

The Olympics are no different.

From London 2012, athletes were criticised on the medal podium over their hair, and Boris Johnson reducing the volleyball teams to ‘semi-naked women, glistening like wet otters’.

Flash forward four years, and the hope of progress in the wake of the supposed new wave of feminism is palpable across social media, but sadly Rio 2016 has been no different. With multiple commentators across the board attempting to win the gold medal of misogyny.

Olympian Level Of Sexism: Wins Gold

The level of sexism crosses all boundaries in this games, stemming from commentators, athletes and the general public. Female Olympian athletes are facing a larger struggle than excelling in their chosen sport; facing the crippling sexism of the industry.

One of the most notorious, and frankly ridiculous examples, was when the Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu swam the 400-meter individual medley and smashed the world record – easily winning gold. Of course, NBC immediately owed credit to her coach – her husband. Once again women’s accomplishments are owed to their men, as they can’t be seen as successful at anything other than ‘shopping’ or being a mother.

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NBC refuse to quell their choking sexist behaviour to their country’s great female athletes. An unnamed commentator criticised the USA gymnastics team who were laughing and talking after winning easily in the qualifier, and saying they ‘might as well be standing in the middle of a mall’. Not a word of congratulations on their success as world class athletes in a competitive sport, but another sexist attempt to control women’s behaviour in spite of their success.

It was only last year that Serena Williams was questioned at her press conference after her U.S open win against her sister, Venus, why she wasn’t smiling. Although not at the Olympics, it shows the impossible standards athletes are expected to meet in how they present themselves as women full of humility and modesty, while training and competing strenuously.

And it’s not merely the press who perpetuate this level of sexism towards athletes. Ryan Lochte commenting on USA peer Katie Ledecky’s impressive swimming skills and prowess as ‘like a man’. As what else can be the strongest compliment for a woman? That you’re almost as good as the men – i.e the real athletes out here.

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However, thankfully there is some consciousness out there – with Andy Murray shutting down the sexism of BBC presenter John Inverdale. When asked how it feels to be the first person to ever win two Olympic tennis gold medals, he responded ‘Venus and Serena have won about four each’. Despite Murray’s golden response, this purely underlines how the whole industry surrounding sporting defines women’s accomplishments as being a ‘lite’ version of the real events of the men.

Women can’t escape the permanent male gaze, even when they are on a world stage to show their amazing determination and skill to reach this level of competition. Fox news anchors discussed whether or not female Olympians should be wearing make-up or not, as it detracts from the sports. With sports commentators proven to comment on women’s appearances twice as much as with men, the standards for women are much higher – and go outside the boundaries of their sport. With sometimes their sport being ignored entirely.

Such as the ever reputable news source The Daily Mail writing a piece on the best and worst fashion choices of the gymnast’s leotards. Managing to read almost as a parody piece by the Daily Mash than an actual news source, it discusses how the German’s uniform looked ‘more Rocky Horror than Rio’.

With these incredibly fit and athletic women still being subjected to body shaming tactics. We are all used to hearing the disgusting comments about swimmers and tennis players alike being shamed for looking like unfeminine ‘men’, but this year Mexico’s Alexa Moreno was taunted for being fat. Many from twitter criticised the 99lbs 4ft 11 gymnast (a healthy BMI of 21) removing her accomplishments and reminding her that she is there for her body and not her sport, jibing her with comments such as ‘pig’. Once again, ignoring her skill, and reminding her that the most important life skill is to remain desirable to men.

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Women are described as emotional in the face of men’s paralleled courage and strength. It doesn’t help that only 21% of sporting media is taken up by female commentators, but the indulgent level of sexism that is allowed to live and breed in the sporting world is unacceptable and toxic.

2016 shows the year with the highest ever rate of women athletes, making up 45% of all competing members. Yet there is a long way to go to eradicate this pressing issue to reach a level and equal playing field for all athletes.

It is instead Simone Biles’ commentary on her experience of sexism in the wake of her medal winning performance that I’ll end upon, rather than the endless streams of sporting sexism. In her comparison to the other (male) athletic greats, Biles said ‘I’m not the next Usain Bolt of Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.’

In the face of this archaic sexism, we need this unapologetic level of self-belief and confidence to trump the patronising words of the many. Before we have even come to the end of the 2016 Olympics, we can see sexism is very much alive.

Why Police Nationwide Should See Misogyny as a Hate Crime

Misogyny Is A Hate Crime

Recently, Nottinghamshire Police recorded misogyny as a hate crime, and the reaction has of course been mixed.

The argument being, misogyny no longer exists and wolf whistling and catcalling doesn’t warrant calling the police when other more serious crimes may be occurring. With the woman who started the movement ironically getting misogynistic abuse online for highlighting the need to class this as a police issue.

This argument seems flawed from the outset, saying there is a limit to what can be classed as a crime or what can be labelled as a crime. Being splashed by a vehicle can be reported as a crime and is regularly thrown about as ‘common knowledge’, yet misogyny isn’t crime enough for some people?

Now we all know why, anyone can be splashed by a puddle by a moving car and see this as an inconvenience and unjust, but only women are on the receiving end of misogyny.

Men are socially trained to understand that the concept of catcalling and wolf-whistling is to express desire and appreciation of a women’s form, or is even in the more ridiculous arguments sake, being ‘friendly’ and saying ‘hi’.

But then why does this tend to mostly happen when men are in a group, or driving past in a car or while a woman is alone? Has anyone ever started a relationship, or even a friendly conversation that began with this form of interaction? I very much doubt it.

Street harassment is a representation of men intimidating women and reminding them that they own the rights to their bodies, and it is the embodiment of rape culture and patriarchy itself.

Street harassment takes many forms away from misogyny – with racist, transphobic and homophobic harassment very rightly being taken seriously as a police matter. So why is it that the specific oppression of women being harassed on the streets aren’t taken into account?

Because sexual interaction between men and women are too often defined by these very guidelines – from being grabbed in a club to being a victim of rape and expected to answer if you were drunk or wearing a short skirt. It’s ‘normal’ and men own women’s autonomy throughout society, because that’s how it is and that’s that.

It’s so ingrained into our society that some don’t see the problem with it, how else would you know someone likes you without being degraded and disrespected?

Other hate crimes seem to be mostly agreed as abhorrent in the more extreme cases, except for the very extreme and terrible offenders – but the clear, unashamed and very open harassment of women is seen as acceptable and not something that would often prompt another member of the public to turn round and say stop.

Now, I’m not suggesting here that harassment as a woman is at all worse than other hate crimes, but just that it is given equal gravitas as a police matter and throughout society.

Women, especially white heterosexual cis-gendered women, benefit in other parts of society from escaping intersectional oppression in various walks of life. However, this shouldn’t reduce the importance of highlighting misogyny as the hate crime it is, while working with other intertwined oppressed groups.

De juro change does not lead to de facto change, but it is a start of society accepting that misogyny is real and is a damaging element of today’s society. It is has not even reached police forces nationwide, and faced some public criticism but it’s a start.

If it reaches a point where in a group of men, one wolf-whistles a woman walking alone, and his friends shame him and berate him for it – this will be the most effective. As sadly, men won’t listen to women’s complaints, but will respect their peers.

Hopefully this is a step in the right direction, but the backlash to this police decision has dampened my hope on progression. Just as when reading a comment thread on any Daily Mail article, it makes me remember that a large portion of the population sadly just aren’t there yet.

What Happened to Taylor Swift?

If anything, I’ve been a vague fan of Taylor Swift since she became famous. She made average but catchy music that I would always end up humming at a later point, and was nothing special but was generically inoffensive.

Also, she was a non-sexualised, intelligent role model for girls – which is always something positive.

Although she did have songs that praised her ‘wearing sneakers’ and ‘sitting on the bleachers’ rather than wearing high heels or cheer-leading in a problematic depiction of girl on girl hate, but whatever – she was young, right?

But she has recently spawned into something awful, beyond just her white feminist values, but being so blinded by her own fame she believed herself untouchable.

Taylor was brought back to reality by Kim Kardashian’s fool-proof evidence of Taylor’s lies against Kanye, and crushed the curated image of the victimised little girl and showed the world the truth of Taylor’s false and dangerously orchestrated image.

Now, Kanye’s use of the word ‘bitch’ to describe Taylor is offensive, and the use of the word by men is a minor logistical part of sexism that I am uncomfortable with. So if she was unaware of this line then I appreciate her annoyance.

However, she never said it was the use of misogynistic language, but argued that she was never told about it, and never agreed to the lyrics saying Kanye made her famous. She even alluded to it in her Grammy acceptance speech, saying that ‘people will try and take credit for your fame and success’ and preached to women to stay strong. Removing any ambiguity to the fact she was taking an issue with the whole lyric, not just ‘bitch’.

Tearing down a black man for being misogynistic and cruel, while victimising yourself as an innocent white woman being preyed on, creates an uncomfortable racial edge which is only heightened when it’s revealed that she in fact lied about it.

A line that succinctly sums it up in this article put it into perspective for me, ‘In 2016, [Taylors] get people fired. In 1916, [Taylors] got people lynched.’

Taylor labels herself a protector of women’s rights, along with her ‘girl crew’ of Lena Dunham and other White Feminists™. When in reality, Kim Kardashian is a far better and real version of feminism than Taylor ever will be.

Although not perfect, she has risen from the misogynistic ashes of her sex tape used to smear her name, and created an empire around herself.

She has taken autonomy of her own body – defining the sexual side of feminism, and how women can love their body and project it outwards, as long as they own their own rights and the image isn’t created by the male gaze.

She has managed to create an image of herself and a version of feminism without being outwardly vicious to many other people, (Amber Rose being an exception, which she partially rectified).

Taylor has been outed as a falsely victimized, mean girl, white feminist – and it makes perfect sense as to why she’s been leaving such a bad taste in my mouth for a few months. She wasn’t the young, country girl from 2009 – she was very much a mean girl who knew how to manipulate the media for her own means, and throwing other people and including women (Katy Perry) under the bus while doing so.

Taylor, your facade is over and the dream is gone – you can keep your version of ‘feminism’ because it’s not working for me, or apparently for you anymore.