Karen Owen Powerpoint: A Woman's Perspective on the Duke University Sex List

Bailey BrautiganFeatured ColumnistOctober 7, 2010

This Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 photo shows Duke Chapel in Durham, N.C. On Thursday, just days after announcing that a traditional Muslim call to prayer would echo from the historic chapel tower, Duke University changed course after being bombarded with calls and emails objecting to the plan. Instead, Muslims will gather for their call to prayer in a grassy area in front of the chapel before heading into a room in the chapel for their weekly prayer service on Friday. (AP Photo/Jonathan Drew)
Associated Press

Duke University has found itself in the midst of another sex scandal stemming from a “thesis” written by a senior student by the name of Karen Owen.

Owen documented her sexual encounters with 13 different Duke University athletes in a PowerPoint presentation, and she “graded” each athlete based on performance, experience, and the size of his equipment.

The list has now become public knowledge after Owen e-mailed her presentation to a few close friends, and now her name (and unfortunately her picture) has been plastered all over the Internet.

Owen may not have meant for this “project” to be read by the entire country, but we have to wonder what exactly she was thinking.

Must Read: Karen Owen and the Top Sports Sex Scandal Whistleblowers of All Time

Read some of the highlights of Owen’s “thesis” here.

As a young woman (about the same age as Karen Owen), I feel obligated to weigh in on this matter.

Historically, men have been the ones to brag about their sexual encounters and pursue multiple partners with little judgment from their peers, but with the popularity of television shows such as Sex and the City, today’s modern woman has begun to embrace her sexuality more than ever before.

The double standard still exists: A woman who sleeps around is a “slut,” but a man who sleeps around is “The Man.” Many women have attempted to reclaim this exclusive sexual power from the male population through visual art, television, movies, books, etc., and this feminist movement has given women more sexual freedom than we have ever experienced.

There is nothing wrong with women expressing their sexual desires (yes guys, we have them too), and a healthy sex life is nothing to be ashamed of. It is finally okay for women to talk about sex, and we frequently do so.

If you think guys are raunchy when they get together, try sitting in on a “girls’ night.”

But there is a difference between having a good time and being just plain irresponsible.

I understand that college gives most young adults a new kind of freedom. The day that your parents drop you off at your dorm and drive off is like the day you receive your driver’s license...multiplied by about a million.

There are no more rules. No more curfews. No more “watching a movie” with your high school boyfriend. You are free to do whatever you want, whenever you want...with whomever you want.

Throughout Karen Owen’s college experience, she was able to explore this new-found freedom. I do not fault Owen for doing so. Everyone has his or her own set of personal morals, and I cannot judge her for what she chose to do with her time and her body.

However, she did make one mistake: She put it in writing.

Owen may not have intended to share her private life with the world, and humiliating 13 young men was almost definitely not part of her agenda.

But that’s the risk you take in a society that thrives on e-mail, text messaging, and Google.

As soon as Karen Owen opened her PowerPoint program, the question of whether she had any malicious intent became irrelevant.

These guys did nothing wrong. They were not the first (and they will not be the last) young people to engage in promiscuous behavior, and it is unfortunate that they will have to justify behavior that is far from unique with people their age.

College students (including these 13 athletes) live in a bubble that protects them from most of the judgment and consequences that their behavior would surely earn them in the “real world.”

Karen Owen burst that bubble, and for that, she deserves any backlash she receives.