Thanks for the advice on rape culture, Ched Evans, but isn't it time we started prioritising men's safety instead?

Taking care not to provoke women can be a simple and effective way of staying safe. That's the message the footballer should be sharing

Friday 19 May 2017 17:50 BST
Ched Evans has offered advice to women on the dangers they face while under the influence of alcohol
Ched Evans has offered advice to women on the dangers they face while under the influence of alcohol (PA)

Listen up, ladies! Footballer Ched Evans has some important advice for you. According to the Sheffield United player, cleared of rape in October 2016, “women need to be made aware of the dangers they can put themselves in because there are genuine rapists out there who prey on girls who have been drinking".

Evans’ advice couldn’t have come a moment too soon. Indeed, it’s not as though there’s ever been a global, women-led movement aimed at raising awareness of men’s sexual violence against women and proposing solutions for it. Instead, it’s fallen to Evans to try to put things right.

It’s especially noble of Evans to do this given everything he’s been through. It’s less than a year since the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction for rape – yet there he is, putting everyone else’s needs before his own. It’s shaming, really, given how little women tend to give back to all those nice men who offer us, free of charge, regular advice on how not to get assaulted.

What about the men? When is anyone going to prioritise their safety? Well, chaps, it’s your lucky day. It’s obvious you’ve been ignored for far too long.

We all know that being accused of sexual assault is the worst thing that can happen to anyone, ever. Unless your job is very low-profile and unimportant (say, Premiership footballer or President of the United States of America) it can totally ruin your career. Hence it’s really important that all men take precautions to avoid getting themselves accused. While to some this might feel like victim-blaming, I’m sure most of us will agree that it’s only common sense.

In an ideal world, women wouldn’t accuse men of things they haven’t done. In the real world, however, men need to be aware of the dangers they can put themselves in. Not all women are potential false accusers – indeed, unlike rape itself, false accusations of rape are extremely rare – but there’s no way of protecting vulnerable men who only want to film themselves and their mates having sex with a drunk stranger before escaping down a fire exit. Therefore it’s always best to act as if all women are out to get you and there’s nothing you, politicians, the legal system or society at large can do to change this.

Thankfully, there are some things men can do to make themselves feel less helpless. Not drinking alcohol and never having sex are basic, simple rules that every man can follow. On nights out it’s always best to have a female chaperone – someone you can trust – to accompany you at all times.

If you really have to go somewhere alone (perhaps, say, you’ve had one too many soft drinks and need the toilet), always make sure to clutch your house keys in one hand while telling yourself you’ll be able to use them as a weapon to ward off any potential false accusers (note that this will not actually work in practice – but you’ll find that you carry on doing it anyway, just in case).

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When walking down the street, aim to take up as little space as possible. This has two benefits: you’re less likely to be noticed and also less likely to bring false accusations on yourself by looking big and provocative. If bowing your head and crossing your hands over your crotch doesn’t work, why not try not going out at all? And be sure to live alone; most men accused of rape know, or even live with, their accuser.

It’s important to remember that false accusation culture can permeate all aspects of daily life. Taking care not to provoke women can be a simple and effective way of staying safe. Many men feel nervous online, knowing that women may start sending them false accusation threats at any time. Not holding any opinions at all – or, failing that, gaining prior approval from at least three responsible adult women before expressing any personal views – can be a good way of avoiding trouble. Before doing anything women might notice, always ask yourself: is having a personality really worth the risk?

According to Susan Brownmiller in Against Our Will, “that some men rape provides a sufficient threat to keep all women in a constant state of intimidation”. Surely we won’t have achieved equality until the threat of a false accusation keeps all men in a similar state of fear. It’s either that. or until we’ve stopped treating rape as an inevitable fact of life and recognised that both women and men have a right to take up space without the threat of violation.

That isn't victim blaming. It's just common sense.

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