It’s hard to talk about the accusations against Ronaldo without acknowledging the Arsenal-shaped elephant in the room – Robin van Persie.
It’s easy to be angry at a footballer when he doesn’t wear the shirt of the side you support and I’m as guilty of that as anyone.
I have to hold my hands up. When the RvP allegations were doing the rounds, I didn’t pay that much attention. I can give you one hundred reasons why that was the case, but they are all excuses that highlight yes, perhaps, a different time, but also my own willful ignorance of the issue at the time – and I consider myself fairly enlightened when it comes to this topic.
I’m going to give you what I think were my reasons anyway.
I don’t want to go into the details of that case as much as I want to try and understand my apathy at the time.
Had I it all to do again, I would do it very differently.
It was 2005. The same year the first of five allegations were made against Ronaldo. The charge was dismissed due to a lack of evidence, something most of us at the time were happy to accept meant he was not guilty.
But as I pointed out in my piece about Ronaldo, men are more likely to be the victim of sexual assault than on the wrong end of a false accusation. The media might treat them like they happen with alarming regularity, but they simply do not.
“A statement from Rotterdam’s public prosecutor stated that sexual contact had taken place although no force was involved,” a report on Sky Sports stated. There were no details of how they knew that, but we can all take a guess. They believed him and not her.
14 years is a long time and a lot can change. I was a different gender back then, for a start. Weirdly, it has been in transitioning to male that my feminism has taken on a much more urgent quality than it ever had previously.
Perhaps I want to make up for lost time. Perhaps I know men listen to me more now and think I can maybe make a difference from the inside. Perhaps it’s selfish, that I want to change women’s perception of men because I know that’s how they see me now.
Perhaps I just think it’s the right thing to do.
Perhaps it’s all that and more.
Perhaps, more crucially, I was too lost in my own personal torment of being transgender to truly appreciate the pain anyone else might be suffering.
Or, perhaps, I realise that when women say they have been raped and men say they didn’t do the raping, statistics tell us he is lying, not her, yet the more money or power he has, the more eager society is to gobble up his bullsh*t.
Perhaps I’ve got sick of watching women I love destroyed by the actions of men who are never held to account. Off the top of my head, I can think of four women I know well who have been raped or sexually abused and none of them have seen justice. I know there are more I’m not remembering. They remember. Of that, there is no doubt.
Perhaps I’m sick of the crap excuses, the rape apologists, and the fanboys who believe their enjoyment of a stranger’s skill is more important than the personhood of someone who has been abused.
Whatever it is, perhaps it’s time we stop acting like those with an incentive to lie will always be compelled to tell the truth and ask ourselves, ‘what if all these women are being honest?’
And perhaps, just perhaps, we stop, at the very least, hero-worshipping those who have had these accusations laid at their feet.
Is that really too much to ask?