How the dismal case of Ched Evans speaks to wider social issues

Two tribes are trending on social media at the moment because the Crown Prosecution Service assumed the role of a Complainant. Team Ched vs some charities/feminists are either claiming victory for all men or posing the result of Ched’s retrial as solid evidence that misogyny is rife and that violence against women has never been so prevalent. The hashtags are overflowing due to the acquittal of a victim or misogynist (based on whom you believe). On the 14th October, the Cardiff Crown Court declared the Not Guilty verdict for Ched Evans. He has been acquitted of rape.

The Circus Grotesque that is humanity’s self-righteousness (myself included) has invited itself into the narrative by making demands: ‘Ched should receive an apology’, ‘the lady needs to be named and shamed’. Regarding an apology, as the lady did not accuse Ched of rape then an apology is not an unrealistic request. Although if so it is logical for it to come from the CPS and not the girl, as she’s in reality not the accuser. Also, the idea that she needs to be named and shamed for in essence a crime she did not commit is ludicrous. Firstly, she can’t be revealed due to the law – and thank goodness for that. It appears the public want justice and if they cannot get it from those who directly accused Ched (the CPS) then the waitress involved should be prey.

Gender Politics has never been so rife and 2016 is overflowing with events and opportunities to further the cause. However, we have to be careful to reign in our judgement, that we use logic derived from the evidence we have and not emotional attachment derived from pre-conceived or personal interpretations of justice.

Labour MPs are now writing to the Attorney General to support legislation that stops the sexual history of alleged rape victims being used in court.

Should we also stop considering the lifestyles of offenders too? In this case, one could argue that had Ched Evans been an average guy (not rich and famous) this case would have been recorded merely as a loss of personal property or theft (as originally reported by the lady). However, there is an attempt to make a scapegoat of famous people when they sin. There is an appetite for justice, which as humans we should always uphold.

This appetite, however, can be misguided to the point where we have a digital form of public floggings; everyone feels it’s their right to not only have a say in the affairs of public figures but to prescribe a punishment. The effect for both parties move beyond 140 characters on Twitter and the myriad of social media platforms.

Of course, there is the reality that public figures do have a responsibility not to tarnish their profession as by right of status they hold the ‘role model’ figure.

Perhaps Ched may ask himself whether the absence of “no” should  be presumed as consent if a stranger is drunk. Some argue that by that school of thought most of the country will be accused of rape because as I’ve been told “drunken sex with strangers happens all the time”. The counter-argument` for that is that collective actions by a group of people does not excuse the reality of the act. I mean, if that train of thought is travelled enough one can say that in countries where there is no law and women get raped daily the act of rape should not be addressed as such because it happens so often.

Experiences of the past will be resurrected and speak to current situations. It’s not exclusive to the girl involved. It happens to politicians all the time. Trump has had horrid comments he made 11 years ago return to haunt him. Raheem Kassam, a UKIP leadership candidate, has had a joke (that’s what he called it) about Nicola Sturgeon resurfaced to question his legitimacy.

This doesn’t just happen to men – Hilary is suffering the same fate by correspondence that was created to be private bus has been exposed to the public eye. Barack Obama has also had speeches he made as a passionate student that don’t fit neatly into the narrative of political correctness be resurfaced and he’s been accused of being a traitor to the States. Using evidence of past behaviour to direct one’s character happens to all humans regardless of race, gender or country. My aim in providing these four cases is that no one is immune to persecution whether they’re in the public eye (as with Trump et al) or private (the lady who was involved with Ched).

Another lady involved in this saga is one who can be described by name because she has not been given the option of anonymity. Ched Evans’ fiancée, Natasha Massey, has stood by her partner amidst the pressure that inevitably rises from such a case. She is in a complex situation of being both a defender (supporting Ched) and a victim in that she was cheated on. Natasha wasn’t involved in the act nor did she ask for this sort of humiliation. It has been thrust upon her by a betrayal of a loved one.  Natasha should not feel as though her support for Ched means she’s neglected the sisterhood. And hopefully others see that she’s being responsible by supporting her family. There is a little boy involved in this saga who may not fully comprehend the pressure around him but he will soon learn as the consequences of such cases don’t dissipate quickly even after a non-guilty acquittal.

The lady at hand cannot remember what happened so this is no proof that consent was given. Equally, the fact that the girl can’t remember what happened is not solid proof that no consent was granted.

As for the lady involved, well, I will not comment on whether her sexual history should have been unveiled. On the other hand, the stark reality of our actions – however seeped in the past –  will either encourage or haunt us. It doesn’t mean that our past actions have a right to haunt us but when the lives of others are involved, what we have done out of choice will be called into account to make sense of the present. Even when the past is left alone, our nature as humans who enjoy categorising all of life will override decency in some cases and we’ll seek to make sense (if we can’t make peace with the now) of the present by calling out to the past for some sort of refuge.

The people directly involved in this case will want a normal life of sorts to commence. Natasha, Ched’s fiancée, will want their son to start building the father-son relationship that can be lost due to two-and-a-half years spent in prison. The girl in question will now want the freedom to live her life without being labelled a slut or perhaps even a victim. Families of both sides will need closure amidst this painful experience so I won’t add salt to their wounds by joining the chorus of verdicts.

Men have been vilified by some members of society. This vilification has led to an anti-male bias where the woman is automatically believed. In this context rape is presumed in that the lady reported a missing bag and the CPS turned a possible theft or loss of property report into a rape investigation that led to the imprisonment of one and the destruction of another’s personal life (as she has had to move).

Women who choose to have sexually liberal lifestyles have also been demonised more than their male counterparts. This is evidenced in this case by the fact that many have called the girl in question a ‘slut’. “She slept around a lot so she must be lying” echoed many on social media.

Unless by some miracle we are able to see into the souls of both parties, we will never know what really happened that night in the Premier Inn. For now, all we have is borrowed information.

One reality that needs to be addressed is the glamorisation of footballers’ lives as aspirational and the glamorisation of the sexually liberal (regardless of their gender) as a form of freedom. There have been several encounters (for wont of a better word) between young girls and footballers and people on both sides will no doubt agree that there are underlying issues, i.e. attitudes of footballers and young girls is certainly now a social issue. In an ideal world, self-responsibility (for all genders) will reign.


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