What’s the order again – 170,000 slices of humble pie for the signatories of a petition as well as the judgemental Olympian associated with Sheffield United? Okay, collect said meal from Cardiff Crown Court along with a side-order selection of words to eat. Available the moment footballer Ched Evans re-enters society as a free man. We apologise for upsetting the recommended meals for those who subscribe to the ‘she-who-must-be-believed’ menu, but you will have ample opportunity to decry a rare verdict by claiming the decision of a jury will henceforth prevent ‘victims coming forward’. However painful for some it may be to accept, the girl who cried wolf is to blame for genuine rapists getting away with it rather than the jury (including seven women) that found Ched Evans not guilty of rape after he’d already served half of an initial five-year sentence.
It’s extremely easy (not to say lazy) to rush to judgement when it comes to young men paid far too much money at too young an age, partly motivated by envy and partly by the possibilities it presents for the worst kind of lads-on-the-town behaviour. But what of the breed of predatory young women – and, yes, they actually do exist, you who want to propagate the myth of shrinking violets with incorruptible virginal virtue – whose sole purpose in life is to carve as many notches into their bedposts as said wood can take? If anything, both they and the footballers themselves are the victims in all of this, neither having received any designs for life other than those provided by lurid tabloid headlines and ‘mad for it’ TV shows that act as sex education guides in the absence of any advice from absent elders.
Should we expect wise heads on young shoulders when the main role-model teenage girls are presented with is a synth-faced slapper whose main claim to fame is the size of her arse? Reluctant as I am to coin an archaic phrase such as ‘you reap what you sow’, it’s hard to avoid it after a decade or more of relentless media masturbation over a string of vapid inflatable dolls acting as examples of what astonishing heights a woman can achieve. Yeah – sex tape circulated online, marriage to a millionaire, fashion-accessory children, 24/7 reality TV spotlight; that’s what feminism was supposed to be about. Looking down on their legacy, the Pankhurst’s must be so bloody proud.
Hardly renowned for being the finest arbiters of taste when it comes to the opposite sex, young footballers need the kind of steady hand from their employers (and their team managers) when conducting themselves in social situations that they clearly aren’t receiving. George Best’s sad example should have put a plan in place fifty years ago, but the astronomical increase in wages brought about by television investment and corporate sponsorship has elevated practitioners of this particular sport to the kind of league once previously occupied by rock stars and aristocrats. Unlike their illustrious debauched predecessors, however, sportsmen are answerable to governing bodies that are supposed to uphold codes of behaviour, even if an influx of millions has essentially neutered them into irrelevance.
In both cases, how can society support and encourage ‘megalolz’ hedonism whilst simultaneously condemning the ugly extremities of its outcome, whether that of Ian Watkins or – up until this afternoon – Ched Evans? Perhaps the game as played out within the media requires a natural car-crash conclusion, another twist on the old build ‘em up/knock ‘em down syndrome, with heroines and villains each acting out their defined roles. Only, when a verdict in a retrial overturns the neat curtain-closer, what are we to make of it?
Twitter evidently can’t handle the deviation from the script. Some have claimed anyone applauding the outcome is therefore guilty of what Ched Evans was originally found guilty of. It’s the same infantile logic that says everyone who voted Leave in the EU Referendum is a Britain First-supporting racist and everyone who voted Remain is a sandal-wearing, tofu-scoffing Corbynite.
Revelations that the girl who had accused Evans of rape had engaged in the same consensual activities both before and immediately after his participation (when she was apparently traumatised in the latter case) obviously had an impact on his release; but disclosing her less-than-wholesome lifestyle in court has been cited by some as an unfair development. Unfair for actual justice? If this verdict prevents genuine rape victims reporting their abuse to the police, Ched Evans isn’t to blame; responsibility for any future reluctance to do so lies with those who cry rape when it suits them – or suits the politically-motivated legal system that has been quick to exploit the climate.
As for what comes next, it will be interesting to see how the tattered career of an international footballer can be re-established when a no-smoke-without-fire culture will continue to cast doubt on a verdict that nevertheless shone an unflattering light upon the after-hours world of a profession in sore need of some moral guidance.
© The Editor