Thursday, 10 May 2012

Dear Luke

I am writing this in response to a comment by someone calling themselves Luke on a blog written by London Feminist entitled ‘Rape Culture in up to 140 characters’, a storify of the responses to the Ched Evans verdict.  Ched Evans is a footballer, and so the case received much publicity and column inches.
In the words of London Feminist, the context of the prosecution was that the victim had gone with Evans' team-mate Clayton McDonald to a hotel, after they met at a nightclub.  McDonald then sent Evans a text saying he'd "got a bird" and Evans showed up with two other men, one of whom filmed the sex.  The woman woke up unable to recall what had happened, thinking her drink had been spiked, and complained that she had not consented to sex at all.  The jury acquitted McDonald, with whom the victim had apparently gone to the hotel willingly, but convicted Evans.  He has been given a five year sentence.

Luke wrote on May 08 at 19.12

Any evidence that there was definitely no consent? Or can she just not recall? In my eyes, what they did was wrong whether there was consent or not but I guess when we live in a society that heartily embraces drunkenness and fornication (and both at the same time, even better!) then are we really surprised when situations like this arise? I think the root of the problem lies way beneath blaming her or him. Should she have gotten into such a drunken mess, should he have had sex with her even when she was drunk? Both seem culpable. Her irresponsibility when drinking alcohol has consequences, she’s an adult, she should know this. No, that doesn’t mean she deserved to get raped, it simply means she should have seen the possible consequences. Of course, in the eyes of the law, and rightfully so, if she didn’t give consent then he is legally speaking a rapist, but there is a bigger picture than just what the law says. If she was in such a state that she couldn’t remember who she had sex with then does who she has sex with REALLY matter much to her?

Luke is not alone in thinking this.  In a 2010 survey 64 per cent of respondents said they thought a person should take responsibility for being raped if they drank to excess/blackout. 

This matters to me.  I was raped.  I had been drinking.  I had been drinking a lot.  Like the girl raped by Ched Evans, I also believed I might have been drugged, although I will never now know for sure.  Certainly, the way I blacked out and remember what happened in flashbacks is not the way my memory works other times I’ve been drinking a lot.  I thought for a long time that it mattered if I had been drugged, because if I had been drugged, then it definitely wasn’t my fault and it was premeditated on his part.  First, it took me a long while to forgive myself for being so ‘stupid’, for putting myself at risk and trusting that the guy I was meeting on the blind date was just there for a meal and to get to know each other.  But then, I realised, and the SlutWalk movement has been very instrumental in helping me to realise, that there was nothing for me to forgive myself for.  My drunkenness didn’t rape me, the man raped me.  I have been out with men before, and since, where I’ve been drinking.  I’ve had men come home with me when I’ve been drinking.  Those men haven’t raped me; when I’ve told them to stop, they’ve stopped.  The difference is not the drinking.  The difference is those men weren’t rapists, the man who raped me, he’s a rapist and that’s why I was raped.

Luke, the person who is raped is NEVER culpable.  Drunkenness does not constitute consent, and if the person you are with is drifting in and out of consciousness, seems disoriented about where they are, or who you are, you can be absolutely, certainly, without a shadow of a doubt, assured that they do NOT consent.  Luke, the possible consequences of getting into a drunken mess, as you so eloquently put it, should not include rape.  The only possible consequences of getting into a drunken mess should be a stinking hangover the next day.

Luke, you are right, the root of the problem isn’t just a ‘her fault, his fault’ dynamic, it is more complex than that.  The root of the problem is you, and the 64% of society at large, that buys into this rape culture, that keeps victims silent, that refuses to condemn rapists for the scum they are, that comes up with rape apology after rape apology after rape apology. 

Luke, you ask a question at the end of your post.  You ask, does it really matter that much to her if she can’t remember?  Yes, Luke, it really matters.  However much her conscious mind remembers, her subconscious remembers far more.  In fact, her subconscious is trying to protect her conscious mind by not revealing all the details.  But she will remember, in her nightmares, with ongoing post-traumatic stress symptoms, which will suddenly appear to terrify at any moment.  Luke, it’s now over 4 years since I was raped, and I still suffer from nightmares, from PTSD, from the inability to deal with stress.  It affects me every day.  Luke, it matters.  For rapists, it might have been one night.  For the victim, it means trying to survive, every day, and many days, even years later, feeling that the attempts are futile.

It upsets me beyond words that 64% of society believes I was partly to blame for being raped.  I want to feel that I’m not alone.  If you stand with me, let me know that you’re not one of the 64%, let me know you’re not Luke, and if you were once one of the 64%, please let me know you’ve changed your mind, give me hope that it won’t always be this way, that rape culture will end, one day.  

#ImNotLuke #ImNotThe64%

Thank you for reading. 

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