Helpless Female 101
As a semi-professional cynic, I like to brag about how I am never, ever surprised regardless of the feats of absurdity exhibited by humans and by instututions made of humans. But I must admit defeat. Vassar, that prestigious college in NY, has got my number.
A Strong Woman
Mary Claire Walker transferred to Vassar as a sophomore in 2011. A strong, confident woman, she was also a superb student and a fine athlete. She made friends and found a boyfriend too. One of her friends was Peter Yu, a freshman. She and Peter were both on the crew team and, as college chums will do, they confided to one another their romantic interests.
One night in February 2012, Mary Claire and Peter were hanging out together at a team party. Mary Claire had just broken up with her boyfriend and she told Peter. After the party, the pair, already drunk, walked arm in arm to a nearby drinking spot where they drank more and made out some. The would-be lovebirds made phone calls to their roommates to see if they could negotiate the guarantee of some precious privacy. The roommates couldn’t be reached but Mary Claire and Peter made their way to his room regardless. The two drunk athletes climbed four flights of stairs, split up to visit the bathrooms, and met at Peter’s room; Peter’s roommate wasn’t there. So far so good.
First the Oral Sex
Peter felt a little embarrassed. He was a virgin and he told his friend this would be his first time. Peter was also a little shy about how his body looked. Mary Claire kindly reassured him saying she knew what to do and that he looked fine. She decided a little oral sex would be a good start and she took on the role of teacher. Peter, a top student in more formal settings, was a quick study. Mary Claire complimented him on his technique expressing surprise that he would be so adept his first time. “Did you learn this on the internet?” she asked. Better and better.
According to court documents filed many months later in what became a bitter dispute between Vassar College and Peter Yu, Mary Claire Walker outfitted her “student” with a condom and took his virginity. Neither Vassar nor Ms. Walker deny Peter’s version of events. The court documents also reveal that Peter’s roommate showed up while Peter and Mary Claire were engaged in sexual intercourse. The interloper left immediately, but the interruption caused Mary Claire to rethink what she was doing: She no longer wanted to have sex with Peter. She talked about her previous relationship, lamented its demise, got up, got dressed, and walked out as she of course has a perfect right to do even if it isn’t the nicest way to treat your virgin friend.
So much for that magical first sexual experience.
A Brief Aside
Mary Claire’s extensive communications with Peter after their sexual encounter are a monument of kindness and caring: she had hurt her friend and felt terrible about it. Her messages (most of which were sent to Peter via Facebook) are described and quoted below and can be read in full in public court documents. Ms. Walker was evidently a responsible young adult.
A year after Ms. Walker took full responsibility for hurting her friend, Vassar officials produced a new and bizarre account of her drunken sexual episode. Peter was suddenly NOT a hurt ex-virgin who watched his first lover walk away in the middle of sex; he was a now drunk man who took advantage of his friend who was so drunk she could neither consent nor resist.
Vassar says Mary Claire changed her mind. She eventually decided, according to Vassar officials, that actually she was “in shock” and “in denial” when she wrote to Peter in the weeks following their interrupted intercourse. According to Vassar officials, Mary Claire ultimately realized that she had written the messages “out of fear” although no threats or hostility from Mr. Yu was in evidence or even alleged.
Mary Claire’s wild change in perspective is, to put it mildly, suspicious. When you read her Facebook messages, it becomes clear (I think to anyone) that her reversal is so extreme that it implies manipulation. Human beings, in my experience, do not dramatically shift their entire view of reality unless they are being influenced from without, usually by multiple authority figures.
Don’t take my word for it. Here are the facts taken from court documents. Mary Claire’s detailed, extensive, unequivocal, crystal clear Facebook messages are quoted below. I did not cherry pick: it’s all there. Perhaps you’ll read what follows and find that you disagree with me though I don’t see how.
A Woman of Character
The day after their encounter, Mary Claire and Peter discovered that two people had noted Ms. Walker’s drunken condition and had reported their concern that Peter might be taking advantage of his friend. Mary Claire immediately communicated to Peter her firm belief that “you did nothing wrong” as well as her clear intention to “stand up for you” should it become necessary.
But Mary Claire wasn’t just powerful ally, she was an empathetic friend too. She went out of her way to explain to Peter that her lack of interest in pursuing a relationship with him wasn’t due to anything he had done; she just wasn’t ready for another relationship so soon after her breakup. She then explicitly apologized.
“I led you on,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
But even that wasn’t enough. “I had a wonderful time,” she assured the rejected freshman. “I don’t think less of you,” she said kindly.
Unless you have a heart of stone, you cannot fail to be impressed, upon reading Mary Claire’s messages, with her simple human decency and maturity. Almost a year later, Vassar officials ascribed all the messages to “fear” without any explanation.
Vassar would never present any evidence indicating Peter had ever caused anyone to be afraid of him nor would they present any evidence that he had done anything at all to make Mary Claire afraid. Not only was no such evidence ever presented, no one, not Vassar, not Mary Claire, not any witnesses, even made any unsubstantiated claims that Peter ever did or said anything remotely threatening. The phrase, “out of fear,” would simply be thrown around like some kind of bizarre incantation that explained the unexplainable.
The person who Vassar claims later realized she had been writing out of fear, told Peter via Facebook that she “should have known better” than to drink right after breaking up with her boyfriend. Indeed, the introspective young woman overtly took full responsibility for what happened. “I did not treat you very well,” she said. Her own actions she called “disrespectful.”
“I never, ever meant to hurt you,” was an especially heartfelt part of Mary Claire Walker’s consolation to her friend who had lost his virginity with her. Yes, she made a mistake. But she did everything she could to make it right — until Vassar officials got their grubby hands on her.
My high opinion of Ms. Walker is based only on the Facebook messages, but they speak volumes. Unfortunately, when faced with authority figures with their own strong motivations, even the best of us can be influenced and pushed and coerced.
Mary Claire is obviously a strong, confident, kind, empathetic, ethical, sensitive, thoughtful, introspective, and caring young woman with a powerful sense of personal responsibility. She’s an amazing 21st century young woman who couldn’t quite stand up to malicious older adults determined to turn her mistake into a deeply anti-feminist political statement infantilizing all women while denying that a young woman can ever be mature and responsible and powerful.
People like Mary Claire Walker often attract scum determined to bring them down. Half the time these useless weaklings, acting in concert, succeed in their inveterate desire to keep their own low level as populous as possible.
I obviously have a pretty low opinion of certain Vassar officials although, as you’ll see, the president of Vassar herself shares my concerns.
Enter the Time Travelers
I can’t explain the details of what Vassar did in a rational way. It makes so little sense to me that I had to come up with a fantasy to explain it: Some people from the 1940’s traveled more than 70 years into the future, passed themselves off as modern people, and got jobs at Vassar. Nothing short of that can explain Vassar’s outrageous behavior.
In 1940 in the the United States, a woman could never become an adult. No matter how old she was, she would always be, to a certain extent, a child, not fully responsible for her actions. So Mary Claire Walker, a modern adult woman who appeared to be as responsible as any adult male ever was, was an impossibility as far as the time travelers were concerned.
Almost a year had passed. It was very nearly too late to file any sort of sexual misconduct complaint against Peter. Vassar has a one year statute of limitations on such complaints. But the tight timing actually worked out rather well for the time travelers.
Under the influence of the time travelers, Mary Claire tossed aside everything she had written to Peter and created a brand new narrative that made no sense whatsoever — this is how we can identify a narrative created by people who weren’t there. Nonsense is the telltale.
So Mary Claire had NOT led Peter on. Actually, she didn’t remember what happened. She had NOT mistreated Peter either. Actually, Peter had taken advantage of her drunkenness and she, Mary Claire, had been “unable to resist.” Finally, she had NOT been disrespectful to Peter. Actually, Mary Claire now said, she had been “helpless.”
The revisionism went on and on. Mary Claire had suddenly NOT had a wonderful time and now did NOT think Peter did nothing wrong. Needless to say, she was NOT going to stand up for him, just the opposite in fact. All she could say now, a year later, was that she didn’t remember much because it was “fuzzy.”
But wait! There’s more.
After their sexual encounter, Mary Claire Walker invited Peter Yu to come to her and her parents’ home for dinner. The invitation was a text message and was not saved, but Mary Claire doesn’t deny sending it. Did she invite him to her home “out of fear”? Is this Vassar’s claim? Do Vassar officials all have Ph.D.’s in making ridiculous claims while keeping straight faces? What is going on here?
Peter the Rapist
We don’t know what really happened. How could we? For all we know, Peter’s account of the night in question is entirely fabricated. Peter’s account wasn’t contradicted by Mary Claire or by anyone else, but then again we don’t have video do we? All we have are Mary Claire’s Facebook messages which are quite clear, but which do not contain a minute by minute account of events.
So Mary Claire may or may not have made the “my how quickly you learn” comment about Peter’s supposedly brilliant oral sex technique. Mary Claire may or may not have called her roommate to see if she could arrange for some privacy where she could take the young man’s virginity. I think these things happened, but we have only Peter’s word and Mary Claire’s “I don’t remember,” to go on.
Suppose Mary Claire had successfully contacted her roommate. Suppose the sex had taken place on Mary Claire’s bed. Would Peter have still been kicked out? Probably not. I doubt even the grubby little Vassar officials could have stomached going that far, but I may be underestimating them.
I can just imagine Vassar investigating Peter’s alleged sexual misconduct. “Do women ever want to have sex with virgins?” they would ask. “Could she really have had ‘a wonderful time’ having drunken sex with a virgin?” Obviously Peter’s virginity makes him more likely to be guilty of taking advantage of his friend. Obviously.
Maybe it’s just as well they didn’t bother with an investigation or even an attempt at appearing to be fair. Vassar ignored Ms. Walker’s Facebook messages, avoided questioning the young woman, reached a foregone conclusion, and unceremoniously kicked Peter Yu’s sorry butt out of their precious college without a second thought. The whole process took all of 18 days: Vassar is a model of efficiency.
I note here that Vassar’s president, Catherine Hill, has given the college’s policies and their appropriate application some real thought and has expressed concern that the policy essentially just says that any drunk woman is considered unable to consent. Since this policy has never been and would never be applied to a man, Ms. Hill is rightfully concerned: It is very scary. Two drunk kids, both out of it. Is it always the male at risk [for a sexual misconduct charge]?
So it’s not like everyone at Vassar is a dirt-dwelling grub. But Ms. Hill’s clarity of thought didn’t help Peter.
Now tossed out on the street, as it were, the high-achieving student who was no longer a virgin found that he had been blacklisted at every other top school from coast to coast. Gotta love that! Meanwhile Peter’s bewildered parents received a massive bill from Vassar for the balance of his sophomore year tuition.
Peter is now attending a fine college you have never heard of.
Good Luck with the Lawsuit, Dude
Of course, Peter is suing Vassar for discrimination — a team of New York lawyers took his case (while rejecting many similar but less outrageous cases). The New York lawyers are not claiming a time traveler invasion at Vassar, but they might as well be. No man has ever filed a complaint against a woman at Vassar for taking advantage of his drunkenness, so how can you prove Vassar wouldn’t take such a claim seriously? How can you prove Vassar is treating men and women differently?
Here’s the simple answer: You can’t.
Of course, Peter himself could, theoretically, have been the first man to claim he was too drunk to consent and, if his complaint had been ignored, he could then have claimed discrimination. Unfortunately for Peter, there’s a one year statute of limitation on sexual misconduct complaints.
Mary Claire’s complaint was timed to perfection. Both parties were violating Vassar’s official policy by having sex with a drunk person, but only one complaint would ever be filed.
You see, Vassar officials made sure Mary Claire filed her complaint exactly on the one year anniversary of her taking Peter’s virginity. So by the time Peter found out about the complaint against him, it was too late.
It’s beautiful when you think about it. Satan is grinning from ear to ear. Yes, the clock had run out on Peter Yu! Talk about being totally screwed.
Peter’s civil lawsuit against Vassar has been about as successful as his sex life. Judge Ronnie Abrams made things perfectly clear in her statement dismissing the case: If a man at Vassar got drunk and slept with a virgin woman and walked out on her and then apologized profusely for leading her on and then, a year later, tried to have her kicked out for taking advantage of him, and if this abused man was ignored by Vassar and the dangerous woman who used to be a virgin was not prosecuted simply because she was a woman, then, and only then, would there be a basis for a discrimination claim. Therefore, for the moment, Peter Yu has no case.
Got that? Peter and his lawyers said they vehemently disagree with this “logic” and are appealing.
What of Mary Claire?
Peter will be fine. He’s not at a name school, but that won’t matter. He’s a brilliant student and will get a great education anyway. He’ll avoid drunk women and probably casual sex in general and he’ll find success and happiness for his own reasons and maybe also just to spite the invaders from the past who tried to ruin his life. Good for him.
I wish I could say the same for Mary Claire. She didn’t say much at Peter’s hearing; she mostly just cried. That’s not the Mary Claire who wrote heartfelt notes to Peter.
I care about you and I never ever meant to hurt you and we were both drunk. — Mary Claire to Peter, April 2012.
I felt helpless and wrote the Facebook messages out of fear. — Mary Claire’s modified story as told by Vassar officials, February 2013.
Her change of heart is not just suspicious: it’s grotesque. What happened to Mary Claire Walker between April 2012 and February 2013? Who is responsible? I suspect Vassar is liable.
New Male Buddy System
Women have been using a buddy system for decades to protect one another at social gatherings that involve a lot of drinking. Men should do it too. It’s simple: when you see your friend about to leave the party with a drunk woman, you stop him.
“Dude, she’s drunk.”
“So am I. Whatever.”
“Dude, she can’t consent. You could get screwed.”
“That’s the plan! And she just gave me a hickey for god’s sake.”
“Dude, it doesn’t matter, she might not remember tomorrow. Or she might change her mind a year from now.”
“No way, she’s a friend of mine. She totally wants to hook up, she’s standing right here nodding her head and smiling. So back off.”
“Dude, it’s way too dangerous.”
“But, my good friend, facing danger is an important part of growing up!”
“Dude, she could text you the next day she had a wonderful time and they can still kick your ass out. The risk level is off the charts here my friend. Sorry.”
“But . . . but . . . can’t I face just a little danger?”
The landscape has changed for men and this isn’t all bad. Encouraging men to scrupulously avoid even the appearance of taking advantage of a drunk woman has benefits especially considering the prevalence of sexual misconduct on college campuses. On the other hand, women are obviously NOT made safer when we kick men like Peter Yu out of college. Also, denying a woman’s self-proclaimed full responsibility is a nightmare for scenario for feminism: women MUST be allowed to be adults. I don’t know any other way to put it.
Actions taken at Vassar and other colleges perpetuate the pernicious idea that women are perpetual children. By ignoring Mary Claire Walker’s own sense of personal responsibility and kowtowing to the time travelers, Vassar has delivered a big fat backwards kick to women everywhere.
No one at Vassar said, “Mary Claire, from your Facebook messages it looks like you are an adult who got drunk and made a mistake. Is it possible that’s exactly what happened?” Instead, we were treated to another installment of the woman-as-perpetual-helpless-child meme. The fact that a woman can be incapacitated by alcohol and/or overpowered by a larger, stronger male does NOT mean she is a vulnerable infant in every situation no matter what.
Unless we want to go back to the 1940’s, we must affirm an adult woman’s absolute right to get drunk and have bad sex. It’s truly bizarre that this even needs to be said.
Repeat After Me
This is what seems to have happened. Vassar officials convinced Mary Claire that she needed to complete a special project to pass their required “Helpless Female 101” course. Repeat after me: “You were taken advantage of.” Repeat after me: “You are a child.” Repeat after me: “You are helpless.”
Ms. Walker gave in and completed her special project. She became a victim (perhaps a lifelong victim) and the young virgin she hurt was kicked out of Vassar a year to the day after surrendering his virginity.
Mary Claire had expressed herself strongly, clearly, and repeatedly: her Facebook messages are utterly unambiguous. At the hearing, all the poor girl — her adulthood having been cruelly taken from her by Vassar officials — could do was cry hysterically and say she had been helpless.
WHAT HAPPENED? It seems obvious. Vassar should answer for their manipulation of the young woman. Even worse, Mary Claire’s father is a professor at Vassar and he was right there with a front row seat for the whole sordid mess. He allowed Vassar officials to destroy his daughter. Peter Yu will be fine. But what of Mary Claire? How will she recover? Who will help her?
Professor Walker and the Vassar officials are not evil people. Have they lost their minds? Maybe.