Karen Owen took kiss-and-tell to a whole new level when she combined her Duke University-honed academic acumen with her extracurricular wild side to create an elaborate sex list ranking the college men she bedded.
But now the recent Duke grad finds herself red-faced over attention she never bargained for: Her tongue-in-cheek “unofficial senior thesis” on sex with Duke athletes spread from the three friends she originally e-mailed to the whole 14,000-strong student body and, eventually, to websites the whole world can see.
“It’s funny because we know the people on it,” one Duke University student told NBC for a TODAY report on Owen’s now-infamous sex list.
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Owen’s sex ranking is nothing if not precise. She took a list of 13 men she slept with, drawing mainly from Duke’s lacrosse team — the same team that was embroiled in a sex scandal of its own in 2006 — and created a bar graph ranking their sexual prowess. She left little to the imagination in creating a 42-slide PowerPoint presentation, detailing sex in the university library during finals week, sex in cars and, most of all, sex while inebriated.
“In my blackout state, still managed to crawl into bed with a Duke athlete,” Owen commented on one escapade.
Owen called her presentation “An education beyond the classroom: excelling in the realm of horizontal academics,” and was clearly having fun mixing her book smarts with her partying experience. She treated her sex ranking as a full-on thesis, writing, “Senior year and college in general often bring about certain situations that result in the seeking of so-called ‘sex.’ Until now, no studies have succeeded in developing a methodology for quantifying and ranking these so-called horizontal academics. In this study, we used data from four years at Duke University to create evaluation criteria for such encounters and applied these criteria to evaluated subjects.”
While Owen was obviously not serious in her clinical rankings of her lovers’ sex skills, she may have done too good a job: The friends she e-mailed couldn’t keep it to themselves and began hitting the “forward” button on their e-mail accounts. Thus Owen now finds herself one of the most infamous authors in the country.
And while she was initially full of bluster, saying she’s “got some fantastic stories for the grandkids,” Owen is now sorry that her list has become a viral sensation. “I regret it with all my heart,” she told the Jezebel.com website. “I would never intentionally hurt the people that are mentioned on that.”Video: Duke alum’s sex-rating report goes viral (on this page)
Owen names names in her presentation, including one unfortunate student of whom she said, “it was over too quickly.” Duke University issued a statement saying it was “reaching out to those who’ve been affected by this incident,” and athletes on the list are less than thrilled, some reportedly regarding the report as harassment.
It’s another sore point at Duke, which is one of the most prestigious universities in the country but is still smarting from the black eye of the lacrosse team scandal, in which a stripper hired for a team party accused three team members of sexually assaulting her. While the charges were dropped, the infamy remains.
“The last thing this university needed was something like this,” a Duke student told NBC.
Speaking with Meredith Vieira on TODAY, Internet safety expert Donna Rice Hughes called the Owen paper “a teachable moment,” saying parents need to get involved early on in their children’s lives to instill Internet discretion.
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“It’s so important when we see these stories to not think your child is immune, because your child is not immune to any Internet dangers,” she told Vieira. “We need to teach our kids; they need to think before they post. They really need to think twice about whether or not they even want to send to a personal friend.”
Rice Hughes also lamented, “There seems to be a lack of modesty or discretion even among our girls.”
But Owen’s lack of discretion has also made her a hot property. After Jezebel.com posted her sex presentation, the site heard from several publishers looking to contact her.
“Even though I’m sure she’s horrified that her, uh, presentation, which was intended for a small group of friends, has gone viral, she’s a very good, funny writer, and I’m wondering if she has any interest in writing a book,” a HarperCollins editor wrote to the site.
For information about Internet safety from Donna Rice Hughes’ group Enough Is Enough, visit their website by clicking here.
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