Widgets Magazine

Sex Diary: The Cardinal Letter, Part II

This account is the second part of the first Sex Diary, “The Cardinal Letter.” Read Part I here.

It wasn’t until the words dropped out of my mouth that I realized I was scared. But locked in a room with someone I had just accused of rape, I could process no other reaction.

This isn’t a story about rape. Creepy Hot Guy did not rape me — he didn’t try. After he vaguely answered that “no charges were filed,” he was meticulously careful to not assert himself onto me. Like someone suspected of alcoholism who politely sips at a glass of wine, he sat with determined restraint.

It was up to me. What ensued was not a “no means yes” or a concession to my own sexual wanting, but rather a mental and physical back-and-forth. My mental determination against sex with this relative stranger would give way to my sexual certainty in what became a stopping and starting of sexual momentum. And yes, he stopped when I asked him to.

We didn’t have sex, then or ever. The words I used to describe why we wouldn’t, why I “couldn’t” were something like not being “that kind of person.” When I finally gave a firm answer, he said I should leave, and I did.

I still want him. I still fantasize about him, want to see him walking on Escondido or turning down Mayfield in his car. But I didn’t let myself have him because I was afraid of what type of person it would make me.

Regardless of whether it was my own weakness or inability to overcome what was expected of me, the reality is that at Stanford and in general, the expectations and restrictions, oftentimes imposed by peers and people our own age, guide our actions.

I’ve told five people about this event in the time prior, during and after this anti-climactic exchange, and a handful more answered inquiries I had about him or generally “sketchy” guys at Stanford. Four of the five and all those I asked told me to stay away from him. And this is what I wrestled with.

They, without any official confirmation of CHG’s involvement in any sexual assault, imperatively forbid that I continue any form of communication with him, let alone allow myself a sexual desire. No one ever said, “it’s your choice” or “go for it.” They said, “You should stop talking to him” or “Don’t do it.”

Regardless of whether or not my sexual interest — piqued prior to discovering the rumors — in someone with a questionable past was unusual, or “wrong,” or even “deviant,” in every instance I expressed a want that was condemned. Consensual sex with this man was something to fear, to avoid at all costs.

The judgment was made for me and against me that I could not want him. Yes, the possibility of his involvement in sexual assault complicates the situation. Yes, I acknowledge and continue to feel shame that I wanted him despite this fact.

Even so, the absurdity of my taboo sexual desire is far less absurd than the fantasy that there are safe and open spaces to talk about sex at Stanford. People could only conceive of me as a victim, and to avoid appearing as a victim, or even a harlot, I cut all communication with the accused and held my tongue about myself.

Even on this “progressive” and “accepting” campus, I was forced to choose between wearing a scarlet letter and concealing my own emotional turmoil. There’s no safe space to say, “I’m attracted to a man accused of rape.”

I could not talk to anyone about it. I still cannot. The dialogue that occurred over Part I of this story, both online and remarks I’ve heard, has only confirmed this. People judged me based on my feelings toward CHG, precluding any real or meaningful discussion about why I felt the way I felt, or how I was handling this situation.

That’s it. I didn’t do anything. I wasn’t raped, I didn’t ask to be raped, I didn’t have any type of sex. Yet the shame and embarrassment I felt then, and still feel over my lingering sexual regret, are not accepted topics of discussion. The most vocal critics condemn me for having an emotion, for being confused about a volatile sexual encounter and desire.


  • Grateful

    We’ll never meet, but I want to thank you. I want to thank you for have the courage and bravery to step up and say what you were feeling, thinking and doing, despite the controversy. I hope it’s the first of many thanks, we’re indebted to you.

  • Wonder

    I wonder if this part II was written after all the negative responses to the part 1…to make up for its lacking substance…

  • Roxanne

    I’m glad you were able to make an intelligent decision in the end, but I think you’re confusing your friends’ condemnation of your actions/feelings with a personal insult. If they didn’t love you, they’d probably have been like “YOLO what do you have to lose? Hit that, gurl.” Try to be appreciative of real friends that call you out on your bullshit.

    It’s also worth noting that they reached the same conclusion you eventually did, only much MUCH faster. They want you to recognize danger signs. Being able to identify a creep given all those clues is the difference between being locked in a room with a guy who is ultimately harmless (to you, anyway) and an actual rapist. You should get on your knees and thank whatever you believe in that your story ended on a neutral note.

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking the same. Part I was literally just romance novel pulp. Housewife bullshit. It seems like this one was a bland attempt at regaining some dignity

  • Anonymous

    Part I was wannabe romance novel, housewife lit, bullshit. Part II was empty political posturing, a poor attempt at justifying the printing of this piece with a nonobservation.

  • Sostanford

    Personally I think the problem here is what kind of campus or community creates an environment in which the only guys worth being attracted to know that they can get away with this sort of behavior? I’d like to believe that there are other attractive guys on campus that are good guys who want more than over-confident egoists but I feel like stories like this emphasize how much Stanford makes it easy for any desirable guy to transform into a guy who messes with girls like this because the girls here let them because it feels like there are so few options. I’ve been seriously interested in only three guys since getting here, and the first two times I was attracted to them physically and intellectually and did not know anything about reputation. Having realized myself with the first two that they were flat out assholes who were tolerated and permitted to behave this way because of their attractiveness, I found myself attracted to someone who had a reputation for being an asshole, and was convinced that any guy worth having at Stanford would be such a guy. I really hope this isn’t the case, because that was a predictably epic fail, in that I did not have your self control and tried to convince myself that he would change for me. I came back this year determined to find better people, and I know I’m being pessimistic since it’s only the 3rd week, but I haven’t seen it. If your story is presented entirely honestly, I am personally grateful to you for not giving in to this guy, and wish more girls would exhibit the same kind of self control you did, because those who give in are not only giving in to a desire that will hurt them emotionally massively, perhaps more than they can understand until it happens, but are also encouraging such guys to think that they can live this way for their whole time here and will get with more attractive girls entirely on their own terms more easily as a result, and thereby encouraging guys who would otherwise be good guys to recognize the convenience of this attitude.

  • Reader

    It’s brave to share your story. It doesn’t seem like it’s your friends or others who stopped you from having sex with this man–it was your own choice. To say that the Stanford culture isn’t as accepting of sexual behaviors as it could be tries to generalize this experience to other sexual behaviors. I doubt people would judge you for having sex or being attracted to someone. You write about the strong attraction you felt in addition to the repulsion–both are natural responses, and I think you understand why the repulsion won out.

  • Jon Bell

    “No charges were filed.” Wow..Like this fact exonerates him? These four words are the only disturbing words in the two-part piece. Are Stanford women in any way fearful of filing such a charge? If “yes'”, then this one word is exponentially more disturbing than those other four.

  • “They, without any official confirmation of CHG’s involvement in any sexual assault, imperatively forbid that I continue any form of communication with him, let alone allow myself a sexual desire. No one ever said, ‘it’s your choice’ or ‘go for it.’ They said, ‘You should stop talking to him’ or ‘Don’t do it.'”

    I’m going to hazard a guess here that your friends were not as much concerned that you were attracted to a man who had been accused of sexual assault as they were concerned that you would be assaulted.

    I think your friends wanted to be sure that you were safe. I know you wanted this guy, but your friends have no way of knowing (and neither do you) that if you had, midway through makeout, changed your mind, he would have respected your wishes.

    Look, this guy might be just a weird guy with a bad and undeserved reputation. He might be a violent aggressor. Your friends are worried about your safety. I don’t think it’s the “pathology” of the desire for him, which, IMO, is not necessarily pathological at all.

  • Ninja

    I think it’s pretty unfair to say there are no safe spaces to talk about sex on campus. The only place you went to were your friends who told you it was undeniably a bad idea to have sex with a person accused of rape. You never even mentioned trying to talk to them about what it meant that he turned you on and you never even went to on campus resources.

  • Anon

    wtf is this

  • Nat

    What is this.

    You’re victimizing yourself when, as you said, nothing happened. Being attracted to a man accused of rape is not a real problem. Wanting to hook up with him and not being able to express that attraction is not a real problem. The real problem is the rape culture which exists at Stanford, and at most universities across the United States. Maybe instead of spending so much time considering and mulling over your fantasies about having sex with an accused rapist, you should spend that time helping women who have actually been the victims of rape or sexual assaults. 54% of those who are victims of sexual assault don’t report the crimes. I don’t know about you, but for me that’s a more important issue than your annoyance at your friends wanting you to stay away from a possible rapist.

  • j-owl

    the general consensus among women are that attractive “good guys” are quite boring.

    You yourself admitted to being attracted to flat out assholes. With all the evidence around that nice guys finish last, why would any attractive guy want to finish last?

    women, as they have always been throughout the history of men, have been the sexual selectors. And experience shows that those who act like assholes get rewarded with sex.

    Start awarding the nice guys with sex and maybe you’ll start to see the change you seek.

  • stanford girl

    Innocent until proven guilty. You can’t just conjecture based off a bad rep. Sure women may not report as often as they should but that doesn’t mean you can just defer to calling him guilty without formal legal action.