Ched Evans' rape case reveals the ugly side UK football culture— and just how prevalent sexism is behind the scenes of these adored athletes.
In 2011, the then 22-year-old Welsh soccer player was convicted of raping an inebriated 19-year old woman. The night of the incident, the famous player rented a hotel room with his former team-mate Clayton McDonald and a few of their friends. McDonald met the young woman on the street and brought her back to a hotel room to have sex with her. Evans joined in afterward while their two friends watched from the window. Both McDonald and Evans claimed the encounter was consensual, but footage of the woman stumbling outside beforehand tell a different story.
The woman woke up with no memory and never claimed she was assaulted—just that she couldn't remember the night. The concerned hotel worker, who said she walked in extremely drunk and had a blank stare, reported the incident. It was later discovered that the woman had an equivalent of 10 alcoholic drinks!
In the original trial, McDonald was acquitted but Evans was found guilty of not obtaining prior consent, sparking nationwide outrage defending this beloved star, in the usual fashion of slut shaming and blaming the victim in these high profile cases. Evans spent 2 years behind bars but due to “fresh evidence” the case was re-evaluated.
Last Friday, Evans was found not guilty—meaning the jury no longer believed there is enough proof to support it was rape. The new evidence: the woman's sexual history.
In a disturbing turn of events, the court interviewed a man she slept with 2 weeks prior and another man she slept with 2 weeks after. Both men claimed the woman asked for it doggy-style and asked them to fuck her harder. Their accounts matched Evans' account of the night, who also said she asked for from behind and urged him on. That was apparently enough to convince jury that she consented to sex with Evans.
This unfortunate young woman, who never even reported sexual assault in the first place, who has been called a liar, a slut, a whore—had to stand by and watch as the whole country dissected her sexual past. Let's also make this clear: someone’s sexual history has no effect whatsoever on consent. Every sexual encounter is different—because you consent one time doesn't mean you automatically consent another time.
It's actually illegal for UK courts to use victim's sexual assault's history in rape cases—to protect the victim from humiliating cross-examination and to prevent the belief that an unchaste woman is more likely to consent. Only in 'exceptional' cases can sexual past be brought to the court. The loophole was justified here because of the 'similarities' in the sexual experiences, but it's very possible that what was “exceptional” about this case is that Evans is a successful footballer.
Her previous and post sexual encounters do not negate the fact that she had 10 drinks the night of the incident and was stumbling when she was picked up by McDonald. It doesn't negate the fact that Evans joined in without even talking to her. It doesn't negate the fact that two men watched from outside without her knowing! Lastly, it doesn't change the fact that she had no memory of the entire incident.
Having sex doggy-style and asking for your partner to fuck you harder is common. Almost every time I have sex, it usually ends this way. It is entirely possible that the woman was acting how she usually acts during sex to normalize the experience. It's also entirely possible that she may have derived pleasure from the encounter with Evans—but it still doesn't take away the that she was way, way too drunk to properly consent.
I argue that she was clearly taken advantage of—footage of her not being able to stand and the amount of drinks she had do not suggest she was capable of knowing what was going on— and the gross fact that their friends watched outside without her knowledge—is in itself, extremely violating.
The immediate reactions to shame this woman and defend his innocence is such a clear portrayal of rape culture and sexism that prevails in western culture, particularly in UK football teams. The reactions to calling her a liar, to jail her, and out her identity are so angering. She never lied! She never even reported it! She was 19, drinking, and enjoying her youth—and her life has been ruined—the victim's father reported to only seeing his daughter sporadically because of trolls and threats.
Evan's walks away free—rich with his supportive girlfriend by his side. Signed onto a new football league.
The reactions to the new found evidence have been disgusting. The reactions on my news feed claim that Evans was “robbed of the life he deserved”—and calling the now 24-year-old woman, a “devilish, evil bitch.”
There has also been widespread fear throughout the UK that this will set a precedent for future cases to look into victim's sexual past, setting the country back, and spreading fear for future victim's to come further. Other's argue that this was an “exceptional case”—the similar sexual experiences was truly enough to put her sexual experiences on the chopping block—and enough to claim she gave implicit or explicit consent.
There is a narrative that victims trash and fight back in non-consual experiences. But it's possible that victims may act in a “usual” way during a rape to normalize the experience. Her behavior during other sexual encounters does not suggest she consented with Evans.
The condemnation of her sexuality is just another example of how women are shamed for being sexual and a sad case of how rape culture dominates.
Top photo from youtube
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Pipher is a writer and activist. She likes writing about sex, relationships, and body politics. She is a stripper and art model and loves working with her body. She is always exploring the role sexuality plays in our lives. Quirky and shameless, she has a very small filter. Here about her stripper stories on Twitter at Pipher_Scott.