Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Turning Ched Evans Into Something Good? Making the Beautiful Game Really Beautiful?

I'm sure like me, you are now a bit bored of the whole rape debate hanging around just the one man. It never did and it shouldn't.

I'm going to share a fantasy of what I'd like to come of all this circus of events since the footballer who raped a young woman was released from jail. I'm a dreamer. Indulge me.

I'd like no other footballer to rape a young woman. Ever.

What about this?

What about the stand off between feminists and football ends. What about if those groups come together and shake hands across the barricades? It could look something like this perhaps.

The main women's groups with an interest in ending violence against women, e.g. EVAW, Rape Crisis England and Wales, Women's Aid, End Victim Blaming, and other interested women's groups are invited to meet the FA and PFA.

Between them they can secure a deal where the FA and PFA agree that as a matter of induction and entrance to professional football all players complete an agreed training programme around consent and sexual violence. These training courses could be run by individual Rape Crisis Centres in their area for an agreed, and hopefully,  generous fee.

Upon completion players receive accreditation without which they cannot play. Those players proud enough of this could then appear in the local press with their "graduation" certificates and show other young men that they are proud to declare themselves opposed to sexual violence towards women. Perhaps by holding up a banner/poster saying - "I don't RAPE women"?

If those men then commit a crime of sexual violence they should have their entry to the profession automatically revoked. The FA and PFA can do this. It is in their power.

The wealth and influence of football thus feeds back into helping ensure the safety of women in the UK and good comes from bad.

Does that sounds so very difficult to achieve?

Actually it doesn't does it? It sounds remarkably achievable. Come on FA and PFA.......

What if the Beautiful Game became beautiful for another reason too?

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Ched Evans and the Feminist Mob.

Months ago when rumblings were afoot that Sheffield United would sign Ched Evans again upon his release it was fairly easy to anticipate that feminists would object and they would voice that objection.

Many did. I started a petition. Others wrote articles and tweeted and spoke on radio shows about rape and consent.

Why? Because we have long known, perhaps most of our lives for some, that male violence is an ever-present threat. We know in particular that rape is prolific as a way not just of males obtaining sexual gratification at the expense of a woman that does not want to participate, but as a means of dominance and control.

The backlash over the months has grown. Not one single day has gone by for me since last March without at least one man on Twitter telling me what I'm doing is wrong. That I am wrong. There is no threat. It wasn't rape. It's often not rape. Women are always lying about rape. Women are as bad. Not all men are rapists. Not all women are feminists. I am a feminist so I am fat, lesbian, ugly, need shagging, will never get shagged, need shooting, need raping, need gagging, need jailing, need slapping.

Where has this come from? We know that Germaine Greer famously said, "Women have very little idea how much men hate them" and she was right. I didn't know. I knew there were some horrible men doing all the raping in this country. They tend not to say very much about it. I did not know there was a veritable army of men waiting in the wings to support them when they do it. They tend to say a lot about it. In the most horrible ways. Sometimes I have no doubt those two categories of men are overlapping.

What has surprised me is the demographic of the men excusing the rapists. The men who are stepping forward to say, "Yeah, he raped her. So what? Shut up about it. I hate women like you who make a fuss about rape". They are young. They are sometimes very young. Mostly in the age range 15-25 I'd say looking at their pictures. Some of them tell me, "but we're all having drunken sex at weekends" - worryingly they never seem to wonder about the law on that. It never occurs.

This tells me that very little has changed. Attitudes towards women are still poor and they are not improving with passing decades no matter how much feminist activism has occurred. What is it about this particular case and this particular body of feminist activism that has drawn out such a massive outpouring of misogyny from such very young men?

This time the answer is football.

Most of their pictures are of them, often acne-ridden, but scrubbed, hair product well-applied, cheesy grin liberally spread, arms around identikit mates. In football kits or the default polo shirt. Well-pressed by their mum no doubt. Not sexist. You just know. They have grown up with that sense of entitlement and old-fashioned gender roles are ingrained and pervasive.

Because these young men come from a very special place. It is a place where they have been nurtured and cosseted and humoured and excused because they are "lads" and "lads and bantz" (banter - its the new term for misogynistic abuse) is just part of a harmless rite of passage.

These young men tell me often that Ched Evans did not rape a woman. They don't care what the courts say. They tell me to look at his website. They point me to high heels and pizza. They tell me of pink minis and kebabs and "asking for it" and "shagging his mate". They never consider the law. They never refer to the law. They never discuss consent with me.

Why? Because they can't. No one has discussed it with them. They've been taught how to drive a car perhaps. They've been schooled to GCSE level in algebra. But they cannot do the maths that says if you don't get a woman's consent to shove your penis inside her then you can't do it. If she is too drunk to give you consent to shove your penis in her then you can't do it. Nothing else matters. If they know not to drive drunk, they should know to shove their penis back in their flies when a woman is drunk too. If they don't know, and trust me they really don't,  then why aren't we teaching them as a matter of urgency?

If we widen the demographic of the men excusing Ched Evans' rape and seeking to tell me about it in no uncertain terms, we can then include married men, a bit portly, a bit stubbly, arms around wives, sometimes holding the hands of toddlers. They don't let go of those chubby toddler hands whilst they shout "fucking slag!" at me.

This never fails to make me shake my head. You have a female partner who you love who in turn has given birth to a female who will one day perhaps give you grand-daughters but you stand proudly by a rapist and say "well done son. I'll tell the feminists to back off for ya!" This needs looking at.

Then there are the totally random men like Steve Brookstein recently. He is annoyed at being called a rape apologist. Apparently that is what a "feminist mob" spend their time doing. Going around screaming "rape apologist" at good decent, x-factor-winning, book-writing, self-promoting men like him. (Personally I think Shazza Osborne had him bang to rights. You can find the footage. It's hilarious. Love you Mrs O.)

If you excuse rape. If you find reasons for it to be okay that a man raped a woman then you can jump up and down clutching your framed x-factor single that no fucker can remember, closely to your chest all day long, but you are still finding ways to derail women who want to eradicate rape from our society. You are supporting men who have raped. You are saying that is ok.

So why? Why is this happening? Why is it that feminists, who have campaigned for lifetimes, over decades to protest against men raping women are suddenly a "mob" seeking "mob rule".

Is is because we are challenging the world of male football? Partly I think it is. I think there is a bit of 'How dare you?" Certainly there is from the men at the helms of the clubs. I think I'd like to look at them in a separate blog because they are sort of intriguing in a macabre way.

But regarding the men all day long on Twitter and in Newspaper comments who feel safe to express some sexually explicit abuse at women without blinking or thinking or linking it to women they know. Who think it is their right to simply jump and say "fuck you you stupid feminist cow" to a woman who expresses a view about rape, I think this. I think they are uncomfortable.

I think we've shone a light on their past. I think we've flicked a big light on their future. I think we've poked a torch into a few memories they have. Memories that were safe and now seem a bit shaky. "Did I? Might I have? Was that woman at the party really....? NO! NO! STOP THAT! I'm not going there".

Where do they go instead?

They go to Twitter.

I'm @JeanHatchet. I have not the slightest doubt you will find me to tell me where to shove my torch.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Second Open Letter To Allison Pearson.

Dear Allison,

You appear to have spent the day blocking every feminist in sight of your twitter range which is strange.

However, it has been brought to my attention that you are still making quite frightening accusations against me. I have not called you a rapist. Nothing like. I'm horrified to hear that.

I have not threatened you or harassed you or anything of the sort.

You are behaving in what is, frankly, a very unusual way by accusing me of things I have neither said nor done and from an account that locks out any challenges from some outstanding activist women.

I'm going to step away now and let you try and calm down on this matter. You made some terrible comments about me as a person. You really should have apologised. To compound that with further accusations does not improve your position at all.

Kind regards,

Jean Hatchet.

Open Letter To Allison Pearson.

Dear Allison Pearson,

It has been a long year for me. Endless abuse. Sleepless nights of worry after threats. Then worrying because I seemed to have become immune to them. I feared I was losing my sense of humanity when I didn't react to vile and horrific, sexually explicit, abuse.

I shouldn't have worried because today, exactly as police surround gunmen in Paris who are threatening the life of a hostage they have taken after killing a policewoman earlier. As 12 people are dead following a jihadist terror attack of the most horrific sort. You see fit to tweet this about me.

In all the months, and during all the abuse, that is possibly the worst thing I have seen. Partly because of your position as a national journalist, partly because you are a woman, partly because you purport to stand for women.

I took part, and remember I only TOOK PART, in a campaign to raise the issue of rape, consent and sexual violence surrounding the controversy of returning Ched Evans to a Professional Football Club. Many many other women, and men,  across the UK were involved. Hundreds of thousands of them. They aren't extremists. They are ordinary, moral, decent people who felt strongly on this issue.

You initial comment was odious. Insensitive at a time when lives are being lost and threatened at the hands of actual jihadist terrorists.

The campaign I took part in was entirely lawful, free from abuse, non-violent and at times rose above the levels of tolerance expected of most decent humans under attack.

You accused me of being cowardly....

The reason I protect my anonymity is well-documented. I would be under threat of extreme violence very quickly. You do not deserve or need to know who from or why. I will not bare my soul to you.

When asked to apologise by Beatrix Campbell you steadfastly held out and defended yourself thus....

You appear in this to be suggesting that your attack on myself is justified because there have been threats to Oldham Athletic. I do hope you are not suggesting I was responsible because that is slanderous and patently untrue. At this time since there have been no reported threats to the police it is unconfirmed that there actually were any. My petition and activism has been firmly against violence. It has been  persistently peaceful, if not always comfortable to hear.

You also suggest your attack on me is justified because you received threats.

Again let me make it absolutely clear. You have not been threatened by me and I challenge you to produce evidence of that or you can produce it to the police if you persist. The very worst I have done is call you a rape apologist and use the word "grovel". I think you have written a few pieces that make it easy to excuse rape. I stand by what I have written. None of it has been abusive or threatening.

I ask that you do the decent and respectful thing and apologise immediately to myself, and the families of all the victims in Paris and elsewhere at the hands of jihadist terrorists.

Kind regards,

Jean Hatchet.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Why Do You Hate Ched Evans?

Why Do I Hate Ched Evans?

There is a very simple answer. I don’t hate him - as a man – I hate him as a rapist. As many times as I say it and as many times as his supporters don’t hear it, this really isn’t about Ched Evans or football or whichever club is sticking out its chest this week and saying “I won’t be told what to do by those bloody feminists!”

What I hate is rape. What I hate is the thought of all the women in this country and around the world who are waking this morning after sleepless nights remembering the horror of the night a man invaded their body against their will in the most vile way possible. I hate the thought that men will have done that to women last night. I hate the thought that women will be in the awful position this morning of wondering how and why it happened. Wondering, because of the way society treats rape victims, what they did to cause it. Wondering whether it could possibly be worth going to the police who might not believe her. Wondering whether it is worth the ordeal of a court and jury who may not believe her. Too ashamed to tell her closest friends and family who likewise might not believe her or might regard her differently from now on. Wondering whether her rapist knows he raped her. Wondering whether he cares. Wondering if it will happen again. Wondering whether to simply carry on. Perhaps falling down and crying in a heap. Perhaps carrying on as though nothing has happened. Perhaps throwing herself into some sort of risky behaviour in an attempt to blot events from her mind. Or one of the other terrible and heartbreaking responses that are a reaction to a man taking your body and using it in in such a traumatic way that you will never take a part of your spirit back. Ever.

Rape convictions in the UK are abysmally low. Police are writing off a quarter of crimes of sexual violence as “no crime”. Reporting rates are roughly 16,000 out of 78,000 rapes a year and roughly 1,100 convictions yield from that. That is an awful lot of rapists on our streets who are not brought to justice. Year after year.

So let’s be under no illusion. No police officer waited around a corner desperate to pursue Ched Evans. No court and jury , who are notoriously difficult to obtain a conviction from, because of pervasive victim-blaming attitudes, were sitting rubbing their hands at the thought of convicting a famous footballer. This was a very hard piece of justice for his victim to obtain. Very hard. Though nothing like as hard as the rest of her life is proving to be.

Ched Evans’ poor victim is on the run. She’s hounded, harassed, called vile names all day long every day, blamed for her own degrading rape. She’s had to move home 5 times. She’s had to change name 3 times. She cannot form close, honest friendships or visit her family. She cannot turn on a television probably at the moment or walk past a newsagent or visit a supermarket without seeing her rapist’s face. She cannot escape him. She cannot escape that night. She never will.

Every time a club like Oldham step forward and say “We believe him” or “We don’t care, he’s done his time”, what they are also saying is, “We don’t care about her, or what this is doing to her. We don’t think she is worth considering.”

So where is her justice? Ched Evans won’t apologise. These clubs are effectively rubbing her nose in the fact that society does not care about what happened to her or the 78,000 other women a year.

A woman contacted me on Sunday night and could only say, “Why Jean? Why don’t they care about us??” before going to bed in tears. I couldn’t tell her. Perhaps someone can tell me? Why don’t the men at the helms of these clubs care about women in the UK who have been raped?

The endless supporters of Ched Evans (and therefore all rapists), worry me in how they can box off his victim from the women they love. She is “other” somehow to their lovely women. Likewise they can corral the 78,000 women raped a year into a field marked “other women than mine” I suppose. They have profile pictures on twitter with their arms around their women and daughters as they call me a “man-hating cow” and much, much, worse for standing up for the woman they have their arm around. These men are not doing the maths on this. Rape is prolific and society is not effectively prosecuting rape. This means that until we create a society where rape does not happen or if it does women are confident of justice, then unfortunately, when you don’t have your arm around your woman, or daughter or sister or mother and she goes out into the world there is a chance she might be herded into the “other women” field at some point and ignored by other men who don’t care what happened to her. They don’t care that she was raped.

So let’s forget football. Let’s forget money. Let’s forget fame. Let’s forget who needs goals or a second chance or the right to work just like a builder or plumber, or any of that.

Let’s remember the woman just now, somewhere near you, the night after being raped, afraid to go to the police. Let’s think about her. Let’s show her we care.