Another day, another rich white man acquitted of rape. I’ve developed a psychic ability for predicting the outcome of these trials, without listening to a shred of evidence I can say without hesitation, they are all not guilty (well, at least the ones without photographic evidence).
It doesn’t matter that there were SEVEN victims. Nigel Evans, Conservative MP was found not guilty on one count of rape, FIVE sexual assaults, one attempted sexual assault and two indecent assaults. The seven victims clearly colluded to dishonour the former deputy speaker, what other reason could there be for this miscarriage of justice? Perhaps it was all a big misunderstanding. For example you say “indecent assault” but of course it has been established that it was merely a case of “drunken overfamiliarity”. The victims clearly couldn’t take a joke or make allowances for the fact that Mr Evans was so inebriated he could not possibly be held accountable for his actions. Unless of course he was in fact female, then he’d have to avoid getting drunk in case someone stuck their hand down HER trousers. “What do you mean you don’t remember consenting to sex? Why get so drunk you can’t remember?” In this scenario being drunk means you are asking for it but hey ho, one rule for women.
I like how Evans, not guilty on all counts, found the presence of mind for a little humour in the courtroom. “Do you appreciate how absurd that sounds?” He enquired of the prosecution in reply to a question regarding his non-consensual touching of another person. Non-consensual touching is hardly absurd, it’s called indecent assault but somehow you’re either innocent of any wrongdoing or a “cross between Alan Clarke, Oscar Wilde and Benny Hill”. Did he mean to invoke an image of a rampant gay sex pest? What a massive leap but in a surreal twist, this endeared him to the occupants of the courtroom. Imagine that eh? He didn’t behave like an innocent man accused of such a heinous crime, casually, nonchalantly putting the QC back in his box, a ripple of laughter giving the accused the approval he desired, no, he was bold as you like. But let’s not split hairs on what it means to behave in a guilty or innocent way; that is how we treat victims remember?
Patriarchy is brazen enough to label your violations with words to suit their agendas. Take Richard Dawkins for example; his belief that victims of religious indoctrination suffer more than childhood victims of sexual assault where the violation can be described as ‘icky’ compared to the damnation one fears belonging to a religious order. I’m sure Dawkins is convinced this is the way innocent children feel when they are touched without knowledge of why they are being touched in a place no one else seems to bother with. Especially when they are told it’s their little secret and if they do disclose then someone close to them will die. Yes, this is a tactic used by child sex abusers to silence their young victims and having actually worked with some of them I can say ‘icky’ is not a word that has ever been used. But y’know, rich white men know all there is to know about what is and isn’t a violation against individuals who are asking to be controlled (and of course one victim will feel exactly like all the others, no..?).
They like to stick together, these not guilty men of considerable power. In a not-bizarre-at-all move, Evans nodded to the exoneration of a man not unlike himself, “As William Roache said on this very spot, there are no winners in these cases, so no celebration”. I think this is a bit disingenuous. I think this was another huge victory for the rape culture. Despite the information we have been bombarded with the last couple of years, on the back of campaigns such as Everyday Sexism and #Ididnotreport in which the information was made clear enough for even the most stubborn to understand, society is still giving us the loud and clear message that victims lie. There is no clarification of law for the public, that a not guilty verdict does not mean the incidents did not take place (because if this was the case then we’d be looking at a trial of the victims for perjury). No, instead there is this blind belief that being accused of rape is a “horrid experience to go through”. I’ll tell you what’s even more horrid; being touched without your explicit consent, living in a system where rich white men can behave in any way they see fit so long as they describe it in a way that presents them as the injured party. “I’ll accept that he’s tactile,” said Brian Binley MP (Evans’ flatmate), words that echo a similar sentiment to the supporters of that other definitely not guilty sleb David Lee Travis. Oh, that’s all it is, just some friendly touching that people should be grateful for.
What is it with the entitled class, that they can just get away with painting this picture of an innocent man who is just too goddamn nice for his own good? It’s rape culture if you’re wondering. The kind of culture that breeds the attitude where people accuse each other of rape to “settles scores”, and victims are “vindictive liars”.
Let’s say, hypothetically that one would be cautious to treat all allegations of rape with the highest level of suspicion, that victims routinely make false allegations cos they have been spurned or in some way jealous of the successes of the accused. What motivation would the CPS have for bringing forth a case? Given my extensive experience of working closely with the CPS in cases of rape and sexual violence, let me assure you that they do not take these decisions lightly and in fact only take cases where they are mostly sure of a conviction. This means actual evidence of harm, numerous witness reports, DNA. The CPS does not want their conviction rates affected by unreliable (traumatised) witnesses or incidents where the defence can successfully prove the victim was asking for it (drunk, asleep, in their underwear).
There is a precedent being set here. In the aftermath of the Savile enquiry (where members of the British public accused 1300 victims of “making it up”) and Stuart Hall was imprisoned for just 18 months for his crimes against 13 victims (which was obviously not as serious as Savile’s 1300 and therefore deserving of a much lesser sentence), subsequent alleged offenders have been able to successfully claim there is a “witch hunt” and with their adoring colleagues and fans have silenced the victims of these perpetrators. Well of course if they don’t even “regard themselves as victims” then is there a case at all? Not everyone feels comfortable with the victim label. It suggests you must behave in a certain way, that you will always be labelled in this way (so long as you tread the fine line of what it means to be violated). Some people prefer to think of themselves as survivors because of how it is empowering following an incident where they were powerless. Most of the time people do not even regard unwanted touching as an offence because of court cases like this where it is reinforced that some people are just misunderstood. Yet this is still being used as an argument to prove ill intentions against perpetrators of sexual abuse.
I cannot say for certain whether or not something happened if I was not witness to it myself. But I do know the rape culture inside out. I know victims and I believe all of them. Every case since Savile has been a lesson in rape culture 101. The same excuses are churned out and the savages of this great green land lap it up with the cruellest of intentions; to maintain the hierarchy of patriarchy and kyriarchy, where rich white men do whatever the hell they like whilst those with far less privilege have the rule book thrown at them, often with little proof.
We won’t end rape by pointing the finger at India, or Sudan or the Arab uprising, no, not at least until we accept the very sick notion of what it means to be entitled in this country and what it means to be the right sort of victim. Without this very basic first step, one that recognises autonomy of EVERY individual and enthusiastic consent as the only way of conducting sexual relations, we are the international leaders in the maintenance and evolution of power and control and coercion. Nothing has changed.
“If you don’t believe a survivor of abuse because of some ‘instinct’ or ‘hunch’, remember these feelings are part of the rape culture we all live in, that tells you to doubt survivors, that tells you that abuse is rare, that people, especially women lie about abuse and that abusers are never people who you would know. If the abuser is someone you know, or someone who shares your politics, it’s more convenient for you to think they’re NOT an abuser. This is why it is really important to think about abuse politically. To find out how abusers operate. To educate yourself about how common and well hidden abuse is, and how survivors do not always act in the way you expect them to. Also, educate yourself about how rare it is for someone to lie about abuse. Look at how women who have come forward with accounts of abuse have been treated. Ask yourself if someone would put themselves through that without good cause. Ask yourself why you are so convinced that it is bound to be one of the incredibly rare cases of ‘false allegations’ when it involves your friend, a member of your party, the candidate you want to support in a election. Yes, any time someone tells you anything, they may be lying, or if not, they may lack the evidence to prove what they are saying in court.”