The saga of convicted rapist Ched Evans, the footballer, runs on and on. Now Oldham Athletic is having its mind changed over signing him. The facts of the case, re-told here in The Sunday Times, make for a very British story of a night out. Evans’s account – even, as lawyers say, ‘taken at its highest’ – ends with him sexually sharing a girl he has never previously met with his mate in a hotel room. The mate involved – Clayton McDonald – was found not guilty of rape.
The victim says, and the jury agreed by a unanimous verdict, that she was raped by Evans as she was too drunk to consent and he could not have reasonably believed she consented.
The heavily intoxicated victim in this case bumped into McDonald in a fast food shop, returned with him to his hotel, and had sex with him. The jury finding McDonald not guilty of the offence must have accepted that the sex was consensual or it was not consensual but McDonald reasonably believed it was given with consent.
The evidence included, according to The Sunday Times: She links arms with him (McDonald) as they walk into the hotel….Inside, the porter hears her say to McDonald, “You’re not going to leave me, are you?” No doubt this statement from an independent witness was highly persuasive for the jury.
The evidence was that while McDonald was in the taxi to the hotel with the victim, he texted Ched Evans to say he had met a girl. Evans in a different taxi on the way to a police station to help another friend decided to divert the taxi and go to McDonald’s hotel instead. This was a fatal decision for Evans that changed his life forever.
Whatever the outcome of the Evans appeal to the Criminal Case Review Commission, I am sure that Evans now wishes that he had never diverted that taxi. But he did divert it, took the decision of changing route, arrived at the hotel, entered McDonald’s hotel room and had sex with the victim, who was also having sex with his friend.
The Sunday Times continues: “They are footballers. They have lived together. Shared rooms. Once, years before, they had shared a girl. Either McDonald or Evans asked the complainant if it was OK for Evans join in, they said later in court. McDonald thought it was Evans who asked, Evans thought it was McDonald. Either way, they said under oath, the question was asked. According to their evidence, the complainant consented and asked Evans to perform sex on her. He did so and they then had intercourse.”
So there we have it – Evans’s case at its highest – we share women. Are we now to consider it normal that men share a woman for sex? Sure, they lived together and shared rooms so obviously they should share women. Let’s not forget that Evans had a girlfriend at the time. Still in the modern, anything goes (as long it is consensual) sexual free for all – sharing women is now seen as the done thing.
My sense is that this case may prompt a welcome return of some moral judgement in these matters. This is the sentiment behind this piece.
The commentator Rowan Pelling asks: “Call me old-fashioned, but it’s hard enough to see how there could be true autonomy in the consent the woman gave to McDonald, who had picked her up while he was hailing a cab to the hotel. How, though, any human being with a shred of empathy could believe that this prone woman was then have in a fit state to consent to sex with Ched Evans (who entered the room unbidden by the victim), beggars belief.”
Yes, this is old-fashioned and social conservatives should have no problem with a return to such sentiments. Setting aside the important issue of what should happen to convicted rapists after punishment and release from prison, let’s just ask ourselves how it has come to be seen as A-Ok for some young men to pick up a drunk woman they have never met in their lives, return to a hotel room and have sex with her?
McDonald reasonably believed the victim consented – the jury accepted that and so do I in the context of a criminal trial. But we know what the decent thing to do was – find her friend or put her in a taxi home. Neither Evans nor McDonald thought to do this. We are no longer our brother’s or indeed our sister’s keeper. That would see men becoming keepers of women’s honour and we most certainly, absolutely cannot have that.
Pelling claims: “Rape aside, all the men involved in this scenario are surely guilty of the basest form of misogyny, degradation and exploitation.” I agree with her, but we should acknowledge that is it the base and sordid sexual culture and hyper-promiscuity that has led us to this point.
Pelling feels Evans should apologise, but Evans cannot do this while his appeal is ongoing. “If Ched Evans had shown even a modicum of regret, or an iota of understanding of how it’s despicable to share your pal’s conquest, like a bag of chips, I might begin to feel he’s capable of change.” It is despicable to share a pal’s ‘conquest’ like a bag of chips – whether she is consenting or not.
The fact is that women are more sexually vulnerable than men, particularly if they are under the influence of alcohol. This was universally recognised until very recently when we were all told that men and women are exactly the same when it comes to sexual relations.
Previously, the honourable man was someone who did not take advantage of this sexual vulnerability, the scoundrel the man who exploited it for his own ends. It is about time we began to see once again the difference between the two.
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