A Politics Of Shame : Feminism, Ched Evans and The ‘Leper’ Effect ref @sarahditum

Posted: November 12, 2014 in Feminism
Tags: , ,

As has been widely publicised, mainly by people who’ve developed a sudden and very specifically focussed interest in football, Ched Evans has been training at his old club Shefffield Utd’s grounds . A Utd spokesman has said:

“The club acknowledges receipt of a request from the PFA to the effect that the club consider allowing Mr Evans, who is a PFA member, to train at the club’s facilities.

“According to the request, this training would be with a view to enabling Mr Evans to get back to a level of fitness, which might enable him to find employment in his chosen trade.

“This request has come to the club, because it is the last club at which Mr Evans was registered before his conviction.

“The club agrees with the recent statements of the PFA, to the effect that professional footballers should be treated as equals before the law, including in circumstances where they seek to return to work following periods of incarceration.

“There can be no place for ‘mob justice’.”

This sounds to me like an uncontroversial, sensible statement. The law is the law. Rehabilitation is a vital part of our justice system. A man is training to be fit to return to work after over two years in prison having been convicted of a crime. But if you read the response from many feminists this set of events is a travesty, and a personal attack on women the world over.

Today Sarah Ditum reminded us of a piece she wrote in the New Statesman back in August, where she said that Evans should not be allowed to just ‘get on with his life’ on release from prison. Ditum wrote:

‘If there were justice for women, rape would be a crime that makes us all turn in disgust from the perpetrator. We would see rapists as what they are – men who have committed one of the ultimate acts of denying female humanity, men who have performed an act of intimate savagery by penetrating the bounds of a woman’s body against her wishes. If there were justice for women, the shame, disbelief and misogyny that lead to the 6 per cent attrition rate for rape conviction would not exist. If there were justice for women, Richmond and Evans would be humbly recusing themselves from the world while they await forgiveness – they wouldn’t be gently settling back into the lives they had before.’

I find this paragraph symptomatic of a lot of feminist dogma. Whilst simultaneously stating that we should not ‘shame’ women for being victims of rape and sexual violence, Ditum employs graphic language to shame Evans, and men in general. She says we should ‘turn in disgust’ from people who are convicted of rape, calls rape ‘an act of intimate savagery’ and says that men convicted of rape should hide from the world whilst they ‘await forgiveness’. But as we know, this is a forgiveness that never comes, from feminists at least.

Ditum’s sister in arms, Caroline Criado-Perez also employs the ‘leper effect’ this time to ‘mark’ anyone (sorry, any *man*) who believes Ched Evans is not guilty of rape:

Sarah Ditum and other feminists’ shaming of Evans, his supporters and anyone who dares challenge their point of view reminds me of Foucault. He has argued that whilst leprosy is no longer a blight on the modern world (though is Ebola the new leprosy) the figure of the ‘leper’ who must be banished from society for being ‘unclean’ is alive and well. Or sick. Foucault writes:

‘Once leprosy had gone, and the figure of the leper was no more than a distant memory, these structures still remained. The game of exclusion would be played again, often in these same places, in an oddly similar fashion two or three centuries later. The role of the leper was to be played by the poor and by the vagrant, by prisoners and by the ‘alienated’, and the sort of salvation at stake for both parties in this game of exclusion is the matter of this study’

– Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilisation

Sarah Ditum doesn’t just shame ‘rapists’ and men in general. She tries to ‘shame’ me on a regular basis too, by telling anyone in her earshot about personal details of my life that she *thinks* are shameful. She also attempts to shame trans women and sex workers. My view is that feminism is a politics of shame it’s just quite cleverly implemented and hidden behind a  pretence of challenging the shaming of women.

I look forward to Ms Ditum’s articulate and civil response to my criticisms of her journalism and her dogma. Oh:

  1. goggzilla says:

    Ditum seems to want equality for wimmin by ensuring men are second class citizens. Seldom has one seen a more blatant case of false rape allegations than with R v Evans and McDonald.

  2. redpesto says:

    Re. the CCP tweet – she and Evans’ supporters are still arguing the toss after the guilty verdict like a pair of studio pundits arguing about a sending-off. The debate now seems to be whether Evans should be allowed to play football (his ‘day job’) ever again, not just about whether he returns to his old club.

    Re. Ditum – jeez, whatever happened to the identikit Guardian columnist, and what have they done to her?

    Rehabilitation is a vital part of our justice system. – but it has a hard time making its case when retribution appeals to many instead.

    • Elly says:

      good points I like the tv pundit image!

      Yes ditum has really had a radical feminist transformation. It’s odd but maybe something that happens to a few liberal feminists as their old dogma gets less satisfyingly dramatic as time goes by…

  3. drunicusrex says:

    To a great extent, though, this sort of lifetime leprosy is enabled by certain types of men.
    Men do in general have a strong instinctual desire to protect women. Most men have felt this at times – the reflexive need to protect and defend females – in particularly, sexually desirable females. This instinct likely added a great deal to our ability to survive as a species.
    Males have far greater upper body strength, and may or may not have better innate abilities in certain areas – completing tasks, setting goals, achieving objectives, etc.
    Naturally, some men are terrible at these things and some women may excel at them, but on the whole, one gets a general impression that men are better at building skyscrapers, writing elaborate computer programs, conducting military campaigns, etc.
    At the same time, women are far more valuable, evolutionarily speaking, as they birth and largely raise the next generation of humans. And whilst one man can father multiple children by multiple women, women can only birth and then raise one to three, perhaps four, small children at a time.
    In other words, sperm is cheap whilst eggs are expensive.
    This explains why many men will defend and protect women, from the best of them to the worst, even (or perhaps especially and competitively so) from the depredations of other men.
    And this is hardly an entirely altruistic tendency – young, beautiful, more fertile women – precisely the sorts who may fall into the clutches of a wealthy, extremely fit professional athletes – will be the women other men fall all over themselves protecting.
    These “white knights” and male feminists are in many cases far less interested in feminist ideals than they are in acquiring sexual partners, though certainly they’ll profess the opposite.
    Rape is indisputably a serious crime. Rapists, once convicted, should and often do serve lengthy prison sentences. (Conviction rates for men who are arrested for rape are similar to those for other crimes, at least in the US – well over 50% for those who don’t accept pleas. That 6% figure is wildly suspect, including unreported cases and unsubstantiated charges.)
    But let’s assume any criminal, excepting perhaps the dangerously I’ll, can and should be rehabilitated – a valid assumption, as life long sentences are rare, and the death penalty or castration are no longer meted out in civilized states.
    Are hefty fines, losing all ones possessions, losing one’s freedom, and public humiliation – let alone years in freezing cold, filthy, dangerous prisons – punishment enough?
    Or is it better that such individuals should be shunned from society, and forced to lurk as pariahs, muttering in the shadows as the rest of us, clean and good and happy, stroll by?
    What chance have they, if they are forced into isolation?
    And how safe are the rest of us, with our smiling families and clean clothes and confortable houses, from those pressed into a separate existence, cut off from communities and forced to hide like bandits?

    • The male instinct to protect females is not unique to humans. It is more general. That is the prime job of lions, to protect their pride. They do not do much hunting or much of anything but may be killed or chased away by rival lions. It’s a high risk occupation of mostly tedium interrupted by extreme danger. The protective instinct is in fact the “selfish gene” in both men and women. Brain chemicals working to an agenda set by the genes. The cerebral cortex has the job of PR firm plus secret service spinning good stories about why we are loving or how we are altruistic but we only are allowed insights into our own psycho-biology on a “needs to know” basis.

      What is protected depends on the size of our empathy circles. The family/tribe, the village or town. the nation, a race or ethnic group. Thus a good positive thing such as the loving protective instinct can be used for war and ethnic cleansing. Evil comes from too much good. Good which is purified into poison. War propaganda tries to invoke our loving protective instincts. Think of the WWI film of a German boot crushing babies or the lie about Kuwaiti babies in hospitals having their humidi cribs turned off in Gulf War 1 in 1991. Even the author of Matthew invoked a baby slaughter to pull the heart strings of his readers. White feathering in WWI was about invoking shame and the protective instinct.

  4. Fiona says:

    I am in my 50’s and grew up calling myself a feminist. My yearning for fairness meant for me that I should naturally do this. I have not exactly steeped myself in the movement, but if asked, would always maintain I was one.

    I came to the details of the Evans McDonald case late. For the first time in my life I had more time than usual on my hands and had started looking at the Guardian comment pages more. When the controversy about him returning to football erupted recently, the odd reasonable commentator who expressed doubts about his conviction interested me. I looked it all up in detail. The more I looked the sadder and angrier I got. After having exhaustively looked at how he was convicted I made a decision to stop calling myself a feminist. From now on when asked I will call myself an egalitarian.

    I can’t tolerate the stupidity and malice in a movement that wants the legal system to try individuals in a court of law as if they are archetypes in a power struggle. Even if you believe in a patriarchy and a power imbalance and maintain that the only way to rectify this is to apply certain civil laws with regard to employment etc assymetrically, you categorically cannot do this with criminal law. The individual should be tried on the merits of their individual case. This is the cornerstone of civilized justice. Ched Evans was convicted because the judge and feminists had a convergence of belief in a certain narrative that holds that when drunken young men and women engage in ‘dirty’ sex the women are victims and the men are predators. Bindel in the Guardian embellishes and invents parts of this story with lurid observations of ‘luring’ and ‘roasting’.My own 19 year old was incredulous at this verdict. She knows plenty of young women who regularly get hammered in order to have recreational sex with strangers. Evans was convicted because, even though all of the corroborrating evidence points to consenting sex, the judge was of the opinion that she was in no fit state to consent. I suspect a certain moral prurience influenced the judge and jury and that they felt that no young woman with capacity would consent to do this. Evans and McDonald’s own drunkeness was not a mitigating factor for them.

    The madonna/whore complex persists with variations. Now we have the hoe/victim. A young woman may have just wanted her handbag. Like a lot of my daughters friends who are confident in their sexuality and boast of their exploits amongst themselves, this confidence can evaporate in a moment. Perhaps she did not feel able to go into a police station and confidently assert that she had lost her bag in the course of an evening that involved sex with strangers. It was perhaps easier to just say she could not remember anything. She did not claim to be a rape victim. She was told she was one. I would go as far as to say that, if this young woman is going through an awful time now, it is our justice system that has contributed to this. They fully facilitated her victimhood status and saw rape where none would previously existed. If ,my own daughter came to me upset because in a drunken evening she had sex that she bitterly regretted, I would get her to own her own behaviour and learn from it..

    We have come the full circle here, with women infantilized in the law again. The judgement of a drunk women is called into question – only the default setting has changed. A drunk woman was permanently consenting before, a prime target for a gang bang. Now she is permanently non consenting and anyone who goes near her with a barge pole is at risk of being labelled a rapist for life. Feminism has cut our noses off to spite our faces. Real rapists will love the camouflage of being in the company of people like Evans.

    Rape has become once again ‘a fate worse than death’. The defilers are ranked lower in the pecking order in prisons than murderers and they can never have redemption. How particularly bitter this must be to swallow when you haven’t even, in any meaningful sense, actually committed a rape.

    I would also like to add that I commend you for your braveness QRG and for your so called ‘trolling’. More power to you.

  5. Fiona says:

    I’d just like to leave a postscript to my own comment. I only think ‘trolling’ is acceptable when it is defined as going out of your way to seriously debate people with an opinion different to your own, eg I might go on to the Daily Mail comment section to challenge opinions if I felt strongly about an issue. ‘Trolling’ in the sense of just being abusive, offensive, or picking on and bullying individuals is absolutely wrong in my view.

    • paul says:

      Oh, I guess I have a postscript too! In the past when I visited here, while agreeing with much that was said on these subjects I yet never saw a need to relinquish the label of ‘feminist’ for myself. Like you I’d never held onto it particularly tightly, but I would always have assented to it if asked. Feminism was one of the single most important intellectual catalysts in my life and I will always be hugely grateful for many things it accomplished. As a male who has suffered beyond words under the regime of “masculinity” all his life, I recognize that it was feminist thinkers who courageously aimed a lens at Gender for the first time, opening up an entire realm of exploration and thought that had previously lain hidden, unquestioned and unquestionable.

      In recent years however, just too much has altered for me to feel comfortable with this label anymore. Culturally we’ve become dangerously out of balance with regards to how we are viewing and thinking about men and women. I doubt anyone could have imagined how quickly things have changed, but then change is unprecedentedly rapid all round and this is only another sign of the times, it would seem. In any event, this old paradigm persists and persists, devolving into a manichaeism that can no longer be denied.

      It seems women are given every last benefit of the doubt in cases like this one because … women are innocent and “good,” while men are automatically presumed guilty and, more often than not, monstrous. I’m not a social media person so some of what’s been going on escaped me for quite awhile. But I see now that it’s really true… Attempt to add any kind of nuance to the grand Narrative and you receive the sort of treatment exemplified by the worthy Ms. Ditum above. The word “rape” now means almost anything one wants it to mean.

      It’s really the full return of Puritanism, isn’t it? But a new “liberal/left-wing” version of it, with roles reversed.

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