The Ched Evans Issue

I was born on Wednesday in April 1989, I was supposed to go home on Saturday but Dad was at an FA cup game. Almost eight years earlier my parents got married in the Summer because my Nana couldn’t possibly risk missing a home game. I had no chance, I was born into football. I love it. However, as a woman, I do have issues with the way some players treat women.

I’ve watched Norwich my whole life and I always have a favourite player. When we signed Ched Evans on loan in 2007 I was ecstatic, not just because he was a brilliant but also because he was freaking cute! Living in Australia, I couldn’t go to the games so I would bug my Nana to get things signed for me. I kept his posters and cards on my wall.

As I grew up, the posters came down, Evans went back to Manchester City and then to Sheffield United, but the posters remained in a box beneath my bed, still treasured possessions.

When he was charged with rape in 2011, I avoided reading about it. When he was convicted in 2012 my world crumbled. I made a public show of ripping up my posters and throwing them on the ground (yeh I know I was 23 at the time and acting like a teenager). I was disgusted. My Nana had died in 2009 and during one of her last seasons of watching football I had sent her chasing after a rapist. He would have known her. I felt physically ill, but more than that, I felt betrayed.

I felt betrayed by the sport that was a significant part of my identity and betrayed by the individual who I had looked up to, can you blame me for ripping up things?

In case you are not aware of the story here’s what happened:
Evans and fellow-footballer Clayton McDonald were charged with the rape of a 19 year old woman who was too drunk to consent.
Allegedly McDonald met the girl, who he claims was very coherent and she wanted to go back to his hotel with him. He agreed and on the way text Evans to say he had met a girl.
She apparently initiated sex with McDonald, then Evans came around and McDonald asked if Evans could join. The woman allegedly consented but the next morning awoke naked and alone in the hotel room with very little memory of what had happened.
While McDonald was cleared of all charges (something I still don’t understand), Evans was found guilty of rape and sentenced to 5 years in prison.
Evans has not denied having sex with the girl but continues to maintain his innocence because she consented.
In another cruel twist, some people released the victim’s name on Twitter, which of course led to her being harassed by supporters of Evans.

Evans was released from prison in the 17th October this year after serving just 2 and half years of his 5 year sentence. Now if that was where this story ended that would be fine, but sadly it’s not. This week Evans resumed training with his former club Sheffield United. I know I am usually one of the most vocal advocates for giving second chances, but when it comes to public figures, they unfortunately do need to be held to a higher standard.

By allowing Ched Evans to train with the team and paving the way for him to resume his footballing career, Sheffield United are sending a message to their young supporters that rape is a forgiveable offence. It’s not. The Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA) have argued that if Evans was a builder or a banker he would be allowed to resume that type of work without any issues. The problem is builders and bankers do not have fans, particularly young impressionable ones, who come and watch them work, they don’t have kids asking for autographs and telling them they want to be “just like them” (apart from their own kids, probably.)

The other problem is Evans’ lack of remorse for his actions. He’s not sorry he did it, he’s sorry he got caught. He walks around playing the victim, telling of how his life has been ruined by this incident. If it has, it’s his own fault. He was not overtly intoxicated on the night in question, he knew what he was doing. He is NOT the victim here, the victim is the young woman he took advantage of and who was named and subject to abuse and harassment on Twitter.

I might be slightly more sympathetic to Evans if he admitted to his actions, but he still maintains his innocence and continues to try and “clear his name.” When released from jail, his first action was to issue an apology, not to his victim, but to his family and partner. If Evans would like to resume his role as a public figure and role model for children, the least he can do is acknowledge that he did something wrong and apologise to his victim. He should be donating to and working with women’s groups to educate young people and inform them that an intoxicated person cannot consent and this is rape. Instead he is refusing to even acknowledge the suffering he has cause this young woman.

While I understand that his family and partner want to stand by him and not believe the worst but he has been convicted. By posting on their website chedevans.com some of the evidence from the trial including the security footage of the young woman entering the hotel and asking you to “judge for yourself,” they are undermining the victim and the justice system. Yes, we all know that the justice system can get it wrong but showing a blurry, time-lapse video of the victim and then extrapolating that she must be able to consent because she does not fall down is beyond insulting. (The fact that 30 seconds of the video also appear to have been edited out is slightly concerning.) Whenever a woman says she is raped, there should NEVER, EVER be a reason to question that.

Just so we are very, VERY clear. Rape is rape, regardless of the circumstances. Even if a woman does seem to consent, if she’s so drunk she can barely stand then she CANNOT consent and this IS RAPE. If a woman at first consents then asks to stop mid-act but the other party continues, this is rape. If a woman says no but, in the words of Robin Thicke, “you know she wants it,” and you go for it anyway, this is rape.

Regardless of how you feel about Evans and his and Sheffield United’s reaction, it is important to remember who the victim is here, not Evans and his family, but the young woman who was raped. I’m glad I ripped up my posters.

If you would like to sign the Change petition to encourage Sheffield United not to reinstate Ched Evans, please go here.

Alternatively, if you think he should be reinstated, there’s also a petition for that here.

If you would like to know more, below are the articles I used to help me write this.

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/nov/11/ched-evans-to-train-with-sheffield-united-according-to-reports

http://www.insidetime.co.uk/articleview.asp?a=1878&c=the_right_to_work 

http://chedevans.com/

http://www.pinkun.com/opinion/iwan_roberts_there_is_no_way_i_d_want_to_share_a_dressing_room_with_ched_evans_1_3819337

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ched-evans-vile-rapist-deserves-4611322 

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/its-not-enough-that-a-court-of-law-has-found-ched-evans-guilty-he-also-has-to-endure-the-court-of-public-opinion-9856318.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11226209/Ched-Evans-Sorry-but-all-rapes-are-not-the-same.html

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Sex Education

I’ve just returned to university to do my Masters in IT and during my orientation I learnt several things. While most of them were relevant to the course and university there were two other things that stood out.

First, next to the IT office is the student office where you can get free condoms (because of course it’s the IT students who are going to need condoms.)

The second was along with condoms, you can also get dental dams.

For those of you who don’t know what a dental dam is, it’s a little square of latex that dentists use to isolate the tooth they’re treating. 

Now, if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why these are supplied with condoms. Basically they’re for use when performing oral sex on a woman. (If you want more detail, Glyde, who make dental dams have also produced this pamphlet.)

I am 24 and I learnt this two weeks ago, which leads me to ask two questions;

1. Why did I not know this?
2. Who’s responsibility was it to teach me?

These are two questions that should probably be looked at together. 

Simply put, I didn’t know because no one told me and when I think about it, I don’t know whose job it was to teach me.

I went to a public school and we did have sex education as part of science in year 7 but it wasn’t really about sex it was more about the reproductive process. We didn’t cover condoms at all.

There was more comprehensive sex education taught in year 10 where I know they were taught how to use condoms but it was taught in health which was an elective. I didn’t do this class because I chose what I considered to be more “fun” electives (i.e. drama/art classes) and I’m not sure what percentage of kids in my year level would have taken it.

Next, there’s my parents who have never really given me “the talk.” I think Mum probably tried and I just put my hand over my ears and told her we had covered it in school.

Seeing as most of my peers were at school with me, I doubt they were taught this either. The ones I have spoken to recently have confirmed that they have never heard of using dental dams as protection.

Then there was that whole Michael Douglas “oral sex gave me throat cancer” thing a few months ago which would have been the perfect opportunity to bring this up. Yet despite the fact Cosmo Australia had a whole article on HPV in their August issue, the use of dental dams was not mentioned. In fact, although they confirmed that you can give your partner HPV through oral sex, their conclusion was;

“We can go forth and enjoy sexy times, so long as we’re being safe and keeping up with our regular Pap smears.”

That’s it. No mention of what “safe” involves. Just keep having checks. 

Thanks to Girls (ah Lena Dunham, is there anything you CAN’T do!) I know that men can’t get tested for HPV and that also once you have it there’s not a definitive cure for it. You can treat certain symptoms depending on the strain, but you can’t get rid of it completely. So isn’t more important to teach prevention?

Cosmo magazine and its younger sisters Dolly and Girlfriend always go on about condoms, condoms, condoms and using them when performing oral sex on men, which is fair enough, they’re important but if dental dams can prevent HPV aren’t they important too?

Even the Australian Government’s Health Department’s HPV page doesn’t cover it. It’s only about the vaccine. 

Neither does bioCSL’s site http://www.hpv.com.au/.

So maybe I’m not the only one that doesn’t know, but this is something that clearly needs to be taught.

Surely the fact, that at age 24, I only just discovered this is proof we need better sex education programs in our schools and in the community in general.

 

 

The Natural Beauty Myth

To most people, a natural beauty is someone who looks amazing without the use of make-up, surgery or photoshop, in other words someone who looks amazing NATURALLY.

I first got the idea for this post when I was reading an article on Vice.com written by pornstar Stoya (if you’ve read my previous post on porn, you would know not to judge her on her profession, she’s very intelligent and insightful.) She is often touted as the “natural” porn star because she hasn’t had any obvious plastic surgery but she still dyes her hair, wears make-up and puts a lot of effort into her appearance in general. (You can read her full article here.)

Today when I went to have a shower I suddenly realised how much time and effort I put in to make myself appear naturally beautiful but unlike Stoya, my body is not my primary source of income so why do I do it?

First – The Hair

My hair products.

My hair products.

My hair tools.

My hair tools.

If you’ve read my other blog you will know about my need for numerous hair products and the issues I have with my hair.

I don’t spend all that long in the actual shower – I shampoo once, then condition. I leave the conditioner in for a few minutes (with the water off environmentalists!) and then rinse it out. I then spend most of the time on my hair afterwards – mainly because my hair has an annoying tendency to knot in the shower so I have to spend about 15 minutes detangle-ing it then it’s blow dried and then straightened. Or if I’m feeling lazy it will be half blow-dried then braided. Either way it will take me anywhere from half and hour to an hour to do my hair AFTER the shower.

I also spend a lot of money on my hair. My hair is only cut by my hair dresser. I then have to buy professional and natural products because otherwise my hair becomes oily and they cost me about $20 per bottle and then there’s the tools, consisting of the $300 GHD and the $200 Parlux hair drier.

All up:
Time: Approximately 60 minutes every second day.
Cost: $1000+ per annum (includes products, hair cuts, tools, etc.)

Second – The Face

My face products.

My face products.

My skin is incredibly important to me because it’s one of those things that cannot be replaced. You only get one shot at it.

I’m English and a red-head so I am really, really, REALLY sensitive to the sun, meaning I always use sun screen.

In the morning I wash my face with just water then I apply eye cream in a complex little massage (because God forbid you should just rub it on) and then a moisturiser with SPF 15. Once a week I will also exfoliate in the morning.

Then  before bed I will remove my make-up (if I’m wearing any), wash my face with cleanser then apply moisturiser. Once a week I will add a face mask to this process.

If I have any pimples, I will apply a product over them.

Once a fortnight I will also pluck my eyebrows.

All up:
Time: Approximately 30 – 60 minutes per day.
Cost: $250 – 300 per annum

Third – The Body

The Body

My body products and tools.

Hands-down (pun intended) my body takes up the most amount of time.

Once a month I will wax my arms, legs and bikini and then spend several minutes with a mirror and tweezers removing any stray hairs. This process can take up to an hour.

I will then spend 15 – 30 minutes washing, exfoliating and, if need be, shaving in the shower.

Then I moisturise all over (with several different moisturisers, each for different areas) and apply sun screen to any exposed skin.

I brush my teeth twice daily (just like a normal person) and apply hand cream and lip balm constantly throughout the day.

All up:
Time: Approximately 30 – 90 minutes per day.
Cost: $250+ per annum.

The Totals

So in total I will spend at least $1500 a year and 1 hour per day on my appearance.

Why

So why do I got through all of this? I don’t do this for anyone else, I do it for me  (okay, if I have a date I might make sure everything is done that day.) To me it’s important to look after my appearance. But do I still think it’s an exorbitant amount of time to spend on just trying to look natural, yes. Maybe it’s part of my OCD that stops me from being able to be comfortable without going through all of this. I’m currently ill and I’ve spent the last 10 days in bed, yet I still feel the need to fulfill all this.

I wouldn’t generally describe myself as high maintenance and if you looked at me you probably wouldn’t think of me as high maintenance either.  I haven’t had plastic surgery, I don’t wear false nails or eyelashes or even all that much make up (and keep in mind that I have not included my make up in this process.) All of this is not in the quest for beauty but in the quest for NATURAL beauty and when you think about it, there is nothing natural about this process. Stoya’s right when she says that “natural beauty” is just another marketing tool.

I bet some of you are reading this and thinking that you can think of several examples of a naturally beautiful woman but I guarantee you that any woman who looks stunning without make up will still go through at least part of this arduous process first. To me, a true natural beauty will be a woman who only washes with soap and water, can just towel dry her hair without using any product, doesn’t feel the need to remove all of her body hair or moisturise every day.

Former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins bared all for Marie Claire magazine a few years ago in an un-photoshopped shoot but I can guarantee you that she probably went through a ridiculously thorough beauty regime before this and that she probably has an even more arduous routine than me generally.

Jennifer Hawkins un-photoshopped.

Jennifer Hawkins un-photoshopped.

The thing about bisexuality

While flicking through Andrew Sullivan’s blog ‘The Dish‘ the other day I came across an article under the heading ‘Keeper Archives’ titled ‘What’s A Bisexual Anyway?‘ Being someone who generally identifies as bisexual I was rather intrigued. The article is a collection of comments on a previous article Sullivan had written about a Pew Research poll that showed 40% of the LGBT population identified as bisexual, which he felt was unusually high. What is also interesting is, according to the poll, only 28 per cent of bisexuals have ‘come out’ in comparison to over 70 per cent of gays and lesbians.

Sullivan’s question was; is there a hidden gay population that doesn’t interact with the rest of the gay and lesbian community?

The responses were overwhelming, with many questioning what it is to be bisexual and why so many are still in the closet.

The Merriam Webster definition of bisexual is;

of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward both sexes

This is also the definition I use. Bisexuality is not about whether you’ve experimented with a person of the same sex and enjoyed it, it’s when you’re physically attracted to someone of the same sex.

Some people have questioned whether bisexuality actually exists. As Dan Savage has pointed out in his response to being called biphobic, the reason he has questioned the existence of bisexuality is because many homosexuals use it as a stepping stone to coming out. Celebrities such as Elton John and Freddie Mercury have first referred to themselves as bisexual before entering into same sex relationships.

The problem with bisexuality is that, at the end of the day if you fall in love and enter a monogamous relationship with someone it will be either a hetrosexual or homosexual relationship. Although bisexuals do exist, bisexual relationships do not and that is the downfall of bisexuality. Anna Paquin and Evan Rachel Wood have both come out as bisexual and have married men, which has led to their sexuality being questioned, with one person asking Evan Rachel Wood after her marriage to Jaime Bell, “Honestly not trying to be an ass. Just trying to understand. Does this mean you are not bi anymore? How does that work?” To which Wood replied “No, it just means I am not single anymore. ;)”

One father whose daughter is bisexual felt that his daughter was ostracised by both the straight and gay communities. He suspected the gay community felt threatened by bisexuals because they contradict the theory that homosexuality is not a choice because they can choose, but this is not true. In fact this is not true for anyone bisexual, gay or straight. We don’t choose who we fall in love with or who we’re attracted to, that’s why we fall for people we know we shouldn’t. That’s why sometimes we just can’t love that person who seems perfect.

My sexuality has been questioned many times with people asking why I call myself bisexual when I was in a nearly 7 year relationship with a man. When I told another friend her response was, “but you’ll probably end up married to man so it doesn’t really matter.”

That’s why I felt the need to write this. It does matter. My sexuality is a big part of who I am and no matter who I end up marrying it will always be part of who I am.

There’s no logic in love nor is there choice but there should always be acceptance.

 

I feel sorry for Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard is no longer the Prime Minister of Australia and I can’t help but feel sorry for her. I honestly believe her gender played a role in her downfall. 

Just yesterday she was dealing with backlash from a photo of her knitting. Knitting! After facing years of jokes of about her lack of femininity she starts getting crap for knitting.

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The offending photo of Julia Gillard from Women’s Weekly

I am disappointed that the leadership of Australia’s first female Prime Minister had to end with her being overthrown by her own party. I know that’s how she came into the leadership in the first place but still. 

Although I didn’t always agree with her policies, I did admire her strength and determination. 

I hope that history will look on her more favourably than we do now.

What’s wrong with this video?

If you haven’t seen it, this is the original video for Robin Thicke’s single “Blurred Lines.” (Please note: this video is seriously NSFW!)

This song was bought to my attention by an article by Tricia Romano on The Daily Beast in which she describes the song “kind of rape-y.” (You can read her article here.)

The video features models running around wearing only flesh-coloured g-strings and was posted on both Vevo and YouTube (although YouTube has since pulled it and only features the censored version in which the girls wear clothing.) Although there is a small parental advisory logo in the bottom, there is nothing stopping children from accessing the video.

Then there’s the lyrics, there are no swear words, so there is nothing stopping this song from being played in full on the radio, but there is a lot of innuendo.

The chorus, for example, features the lyrics

Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it

“I know you want it.” – Basically no means yes, a line that a fully clothed Thicke repeats into the ear of a topless, pouting model.

One website feels the song is about a “good girl” who wants crazy, wild sex but is too afraid to ask for it. (You can view Rap Genius’s translation here.)

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A screen shot of the lyrics meaning from Rap Genius.

The video opens with the topless models and somehow manages to become more depraved in the following four minutes.

Any hint of subtly goes out the window when one of the models appears dancing in front of balloons spelling out “Robin Thicke has a big dick.

Blurred Lines 01

 

This is quickly followed with one of the models having a small stop sign saying no on her backside.

Yep

And then with this scene.

Blurred Lines 03

I don’t even know what to say…

The lyrics manage to go down hill as well with T.I. rapping in the third verse

I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two.

I would just like to take this opportunity to point out that this song is currently number one in both Australia and the United States and the unrated music video is number one on iTunes (the censored version is currently sitting at two.)

iTunes music video chart in Australia

iTunes music video chart in Australia

So what does Thicke have to say about all the controversy surrounding this song?

In a recent interview with GQ magazine Thicke was quoted as saying:

People say, “Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?” I’m like, “Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.”

Just because you generally respect women and you’re all happily married, does not mean you can trivialise rape.

 

An audition for what exactly…?

This ad is currently playing on Australian television and it confuses me.

For those of you who might not know, Libra is a company that manufactures feminine hygiene products (pads and tampons), so naturally when they create wipes and body wash one would assume it’s for your “intimate” areas. With that in mind, watch the ad again. She has an audition and she needs to “freshen up” with Libra wipes, which leads me to ask, is this a porn audition? Why else would she need to be fresh down there!?! Also why does her friend not mind her wiping herself in the back seat of her car?

It seems I’m not the only one asking this. Here are some of the comments from the YouTube video;

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A screen shot from Libra’s YouTube page

Questions have also been raised on Libra’s Facebook page, which has led to Libra attempting to clarify what the wipes are used for.

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Libra’s response on Facebook

 

While Libra can attempt to clarify all they want, there’s no denying what everyone thinks they’re used for, including the retailers.

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Screenshot from ePharmacy which has the wipes in “intimate hygiene”