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Thursday, 10 April 2014

Nigel Evans, Rape Charges and Complexities

Nigel Evans has been cleared of all charges – and I’m seeing some… simplistic responses.

One of which is the idea that he got off. I can understand the principle of always believing abuse victims because we have too much a culture of doubt, victim blaming and general arseholery.

That includes rape victims who are gay men who are (as I’ve found to bitter experience) generally considered unrapeable (even among people in the LGBT community) because we’re all sex-obsessed lust monsters. “No” is not supposed to exist in our vocabulary; at very least, if we did say “no” we didn’t mean it or it doesn’t matter because we’re so sex obsessed that more sex can never be a bad thing.

There is also an incredibly powerful stereotype and societal slur of gay men as sexual predators. The gay panic defence, that is continually raised over and over to justify attacking us and killing us, is based entirely on this idea that we’re all rabid sex predators. The idea we’re a threat to children is based on the idea we’re rabid sex predators. I know gay men who are not only not trusted to look after children even by their families (myself included) but some who wouldn’t even do so if asked because it’s too dangerous for them. The spectre of gay rape was raised when it came to equalising the age of consent, section 28 and marriage equality. It’s a subject of constant “humour” from straight men about the terrible fear of gay men raping them, avoiding being alone with a room with us and the ever-not-funny “don’t bend over/drop the soap/turn your back” jokes. Because we’re all just. Again, I know gay men who won’t use a public bathroom out of fear of the violent terror they inspire in straight men. Again, I’ve even seen people who are LGBT (but not gay men) talk about gay men’s “culture” of sexual predation and how much GBQ men love to be evil preying sugar daddies on vulnerable youth because it’s all part of our community culture. Which all adds to why I really really really feel unbelievably uncomfortable referring to my past experiences in anything but the closest of spaces because there are, optimistically, 6 people who are not gay men I feel even remotely safe talking about it with.

Gay men falsely accused of rape and sexual assault is an ingrained societal habit

I say this as someone who pretty much loathes Nigel Evans who gives his hateful party inclusion cookies when he only came out when pretty much forced and after a long record of throwing the rest of us under the bus (not saying he should have come out earlier or at all – but no-one gets cookies for including someone who later is revealed to be gay).

Does this mean I think all the accusations against him are baseless lies? No. Does this mean I think he’s a sex predator whose wealth and position got him off scot-free? Also no. Does this mean that, if you have followed the case, assessed the facts (something I haven’t done because that would neither be sensible nor healthy) and decided they are liars/he has got off scot-free you should not have that opinion? Not at all.


None of these things – but nor do I think we can apply even a very well intentioned and generally very good principle (believing the victims of sexual assault and rape who are so often ignored, doubted and villified) without recognising other factors apply.