Why risk your reputation for a fling with a Neanderthal
21:23 GMT, 25 April 2012
Convicted of rape: Port Vale footballer Clayton McDonald
The unedifying nutshell of the case went something like this: a 19-year-old girl, rather the worse for wear after a drinking session including wine, four double vodkas and sambuca shots, was spotted falling over in a kebab shop, before pulling herself together sufficiently to approach a footballer and go to his hotel room, where she was raped.
Not by the footballer in question, as it happens. Her chosen suitor for the evening had been Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald who did, indeed, have sex with her.
The trouble began when McDonald offered to share the favours with his pal and room-mate, Sheffield United and Welsh international star Ched Evans… while yet another friend, along with Evans’s brother, tried to film them through the bedroom window.
As we are so often reminded, men don’t come much classier than the British footballer.
In the morning, our girl woke in the hotel to find herself naked and alone, feared that her drinks must have been spiked, went to the police and — though she admitted in court to remembering nothing since the kebab shop — Evans has been convicted of rape.
No right-minded person will shed tears for him — but that didn’t stop his friend and team-mate Connor Brown launching an extraordinary rant on Twitter. Brown provoked outrage by branding the inebriated victim ‘a money-grubbing little tramp’, adding: ‘If ur a slag ur a slag don’t try to get money from being a slag… stupid girls’ — in the process, as it happens, echoing Evans’s own defence.
His trial heard that he told police they could have had ‘any girl they wanted’. Because ‘We are footballers, footballers have money, that’s how it is.’
And, indeed, with a heavy heart, I fear that’s exactly how it is.
Let me be perfectly clear. I have absolutely no sympathy for any of these despicable men: not the rapist, nor the brother, nor the tweeter. But it is nevertheless true that all the known footballers’ haunts are awash with girls on the hunt for a soccer player.
Wearing a little and drinking a lot, each dreams of a gilded future as a WAG. It doesn’t seem to matter to the wannabes that none of the bona fide wives or girlfriends (Coleen, Posh, Abbey, Bleakley) met their soulmates in these kinds of dives.
At risk: Many young women today seem more concerned about having fun and getting drunk than protecting their dignity (posed by models)
They’re hoping for the best — which, as they see it, is a real relationship with the bank balance to match. In years gone by, second best would have been the chance of a few quid from a mucky tabloid to spill the beans on a one-night stand: ‘He only wanted me for one thing!’ they would wail on cue. Really, darling Fancy that.
Yet none of these women seems able or prepared to face the reality of the risks they are taking. Even if whatever encounters ensue are consensual, those involved are effectively putting their own reputations through the shredder.
It would be some comfort, I suppose, if this kind of self-denigrating trend applied only within the decadent world of football and its hangers-on. Unfortunately, it appears to be just the tip of an iceberg in which a generation of young women are forgetting, or choosing to forget, two lifelong truths.
First, your reputation might be the most valuable of all your possessions. Second, only one person can create it, nurture it and maintain it — you.
Yet even without a soccer pitch in sight, these inconvenient truths are being dumped as old-fashioned and boring.
In their place, both at work and at play, women are more interested in flaunting what they foolishly like to think of as their ‘independence’ than they are in demonstrating a shred of dignity or style.
In the office, there’ll be the carefully tousled hair, the little too much make-up, the low-cut tops and hobbling shoes that, frankly, would be better suited back at that footballers’ nightclub.
Soul mates: Wannabe WAGs should remember couples like Wayne and Coleen Rooney didn't meet in a nightclub
But dare to question such a woman and her answer is at the ready. Leaping upon what she thinks is a feminist platform, she’ll tell you that she only wears what she likes, she dresses to please herself, and it’s her right to choose.
And so, of course, it is.
What she forgets, however, is that the rest of us have our rights, too. One of them being the right to look her over, take on board ‘what she likes’, assess her on what we see and act accordingly.
So, really, just how surprised should she be if a male boss, who is quite prepared to flirt with her, nonetheless goes on to promote another woman, the one who took the trouble to dress the proper part
During social hours, her story is much the same. Having top-loaded the vodka at home — which is to say having necked half a bottle for instant intoxication — she then totters down the dark streets in search of yet more self-styled fun, scantily dressed regardless of the weather, while triumphantly chanting to herself that it’s her right and, as the mantra goes, ‘No woman asks for it’.
Well, no, if you’re talking rape, no woman does. Ever. No ifs, no buts.
But while we can legislate against actions, rape included, we cannot legislate against human — very, very human — thought.
So while we don’t expect a passing man to lay an illegal finger on our teetering, bleary-eyed, incoherent ‘independent woman’, we may equally correctly expect that neither will he be moved to think of her as someone deserving of his care or respect.
Indeed, by the time she’s flat on her face in a kebab shop, he might even be adding to her reputation as he swaps banter with his Twitter friends. On a particularly bad night, social networks being what they are, he might share a few snaps with the world while he’s at it.
No sympathy for vile men like that. No excuses. But how I wish today’s women would see what these Neanderthals are like and would learn to take greater care of the one thing that will see them through life — their own reputation.