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. 

19 comments:

  1. I believe you
    I'm not Luke,
    And I'm not the 64%

    Well done on speaking out. It takes a lot of courage to do so. :) Well done.

    Support and solidarity
    Frothy

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  2. #ImNotLuke #ImNotThe64%

    Great words, thank you for sharing xxxxx

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  3. Well said!

    Would Luke be happy to know he'd been anal-raped in his sleep? What would it matter if he couldn't remember?

    It mattered because it's my body and my decision who I let into it, because that's a part of me I choose who I share it with.

    I wasn't drunk and I do remember it, maybe it's easier to deal with that way. It might sound an odd link but I had a GA when my baby was born and it traumatised me not remembering it all, my brain couldn't cope with the gaps in my memory where something important happened.

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  4. Im not Luke,
    Im not one of the 64%
    this is a excellent articulate response to Luke, it is a brave thing to write.

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  5. I am not like Luke. As you so beautifuly put it,you (and I) have been drunk in front of men before and did not have to fear rape . I do not buy the line that men are biolgicaly programmed to need sex and cannot 'help' acting on their urges therefore women must be on guard. I simple do not believe this as I know most men do not rape, beat and humiliate. Thank you for having the courage to share your experiance.

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  6. I'm not Luke and I'm certainly not the 64%. Your post was moving and inspiring, thank you for sharing.

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  7. I'm not Luke. I'm not the 64%.

    I was raped after drinking. I drank a lot with lots of people and mostly wasn't raped. I've walked home at that time of night, drunk and sober, and not been raped. That night, I was raped because I met a rapist, not because I had a drink.

    Thank you for writing this.

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  9. I believe you.
    I am not Luke.
    and I am not the 64%.

    And though I have NEVER believed a women can be held in ANY way accountable for rape, a couple of years ago argued that "sensible precautions" can/should be taken. I was wrong. I no longer believe that, people like you convinced me - and things can get better.

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    1. Thank you. Thank you for giving me the proof that people can change their minds. This means so much to me. Thank you.

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  10. Three years ago I was raped after a night out drinking. I'd passed out through drink, and came to during the attack.

    Both guys were prosecuted but neither received jail-time. I suspect this was due in part to my accepting 'my share' of the blame. I still feel partly responsible.

    I don't feel guilty, exactly - I've been equally as drunk before and since without any consequences worse than a dire hangover the following day - but I accept that I 'took the risk' when I became that intoxicated. We live in a society that blames the victim. "Don't dress provocatively, no slutty tops or short skirts", "don't flirt with boys unless you plan on fucking them (otherwise you're a cock-tease & deserve everything you get)", "don't get drunk in public because you could be assaulted"... these are all things that we've been indoctrinated with. It's not right.

    I strongly approve (no matter how hard it is to watch) of the current advertising campaign 'This Is Abuse' (http://www.youtube.com/user/ThisIsAbuse - video contains upsetting scenes, but it's SFW) - to my recollection it's the first time that advice on how prevent it has been aimed at the perpetrator, rather than the potential victim.

    Anyway, I'm waffling. Just wanted to say thank you for the blog - very thought-provoking.

    I'm not Luke.
    I'm not the 64%

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  11. I'm not Luke
    I'm not the 64%

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  12. I'm not Luke
    I'm not the 64%
    Well done Emily, and well done Tony Collins too.
    I didn't know what rape culture or rape myths were a year ago - I'd just never really thought about it. But thanks to SlutWalk and blogs like this I do, and I'm very glad. Solidarity x

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  13. I'm not with Luke and I'm not part of the 64%.

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  14. I'm not the 64%.

    I'm teetotal, and hate our drinking culture, and our culture of drunken sex. But it doesn't justify rape.
    I don't understand the idea that a decent person, sober enough to know what they were doing, would have sex with someone too drunk to know what they were doing.

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  15. I'm not Luke, I'm not the 64%. The majority of my friends and colleagues are not Luke or the 64% (I work with survivors of sexual abuse).
    Nobody would EVER suggest that a man was to blame for being raped if he had been drinking. They would be horrified that something so terrible had happened to him, and clamour round him in support. I imagine the 64% would feel differently if this had happened to their mum, daughter, sister or best friend, or themselves. I hope they would anyway. I also hope attitudes change dramatically without the need for more women to suffer this way.
    Just a quick one to you Emily; well done for your bravery, every time someone is brave enough to speak out they help someone else by letting them know they're not alone. Just remember, you are not your rape. You are still you, something terrible happened to you, but your soul is not diminished in the process, you are bigger than the 64% and everything that makes you Emily is multi-faceted, complex and deep, never neglect all of that in the shadow of another's evil actions.
    I wish you all the best x

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  16. #ImNotLuke #ImNotThe64%

    Beautifully written and thank you for sharing your story. I hope to one day live in a world where 0% of people blame a person for being raped if they were drunk. x

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