The Wrong Kind of Rape
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Ched Evans is the latest in a string of footballers accused of rape. Last Friday he was handed a five-year sentence, whilst team mate Clayton McDonald was acquitted of the same crime. McDonald brought the woman back to a hotel and had sexual intercourse with her, followed by Evans, although it was held that she was too drunk to have given Evans consent. Not only does the case cast another shadow over the frequently revisited discussion about crimes in football, but seems to have divided the masses on the crime itself. Reading Twitter feedback is interesting. There are the regulars, condemning football and every player involved, who have unsurprisingly been particularly scathing of both men. There are those claiming she shouldn’t have expected anything else, being intoxicated with two footballers. She went home with one, what’s the problem, they claim. There are many who are genuinely perplexed by the ruling. How, can one man have been acquitted while his friend is convicted of the same crime, in extremely similar circumstances? CCTV has shown the woman went home with only McDonald, who then eloquently texted Evans letting him know he had ‘got a bird’, inviting him back up to the room. At least this goes part way to explain the Court’s decision. The most thought provoking comments are those questioning whether this was rape. Wasn’t this just another case of a young girl having one too many, regretting her escapades the next morning and crying foul? Wasn’t she in the wrong? Now, I’m not ignoring the fact that innocent men are often wrongly portrayed as rapists when women cry wolf. Not is it only morally unforgiveable, these actions can ruin lives forever. ‘Rapist’ is a desperately hard label to lose. But equally as damaging is the assumption that simply because a woman was drunk before intercourse, it can’t be rape. The problem most people have with this case is that when we think about rape, we expect it to be ‘true’ rape; the masked stranger creeping behind you in the dark, putting a knife to your throat and giving you no choice but to submit. This is the image we associate with rape and when this is challenged, we panic. We become unsettled when the line between good and evil isn’t quite as clear. We can process the portrayal of a monstrous rapist lurking in the dark; we can condemn him and pity the victim. So what happens when the consent isn’t ripped from her?
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