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.