Snapshot of the new workplace: Karen Owen’s PowerPoint

For those of you who missed it, Karen Owen, a student at Duke University, sent a summary of her sex life to some friends, via email. The content is not safe for work, but it looks safe because it’s in PowerPoint. She has bullet points, charts, and graphs. How can you not admire a woman who can graph her sex life?

Owen’s sex life is a workplace issue. For one thing, it was the third most searched topic on Google yesterday, which means a large percentage of people were reading her slideshow while at work. But more importantly, Owen’s slides capture the shift in women’s empowerment, which is happening at the workplace and having the ripple effect of empowering women in sex. Owen’s slides make me excited about the new generation of women and how much they take their own power for granted. I’m excited to see what they will do with it.

Here are some things to think about when you read her slides:

1. She used PowerPoint in a revolutionary way.
Is there a more male tool than PowerPoint? First of all, the software is lecture-y and unconversational, which is typical for men at work. Second of all, it's been the tool of choice for the notoriously boys club career: venture capitalists and the people who pitch to them. That Owen used this male tool to talk about what men are really like in bed turns our workplace preconceptions on their head.

2. She illustrates why men are afraid of twentysomething women.
The workplace has women everywhere. Even a place like Google, known for their tech guys, is also known for having a sales force full of very hot women. So middle-aged men are often alone, day after day, with single, hot young women. When has this happened in history? At this point, there is a culture of men being smitten with young women, and young women feeling empowered enough to leverage that without actually giving in.

And, when it comes to young men, they are not earning as much as the women (the Wall Street Journal reports that in Atlanta young women earn an incredible 21% more than their male counterparts). Men are not as in high demand compared to women and since young women are sexy, and young men do not have power that can make them sexy, that’s not likely to change. So twentysomething women are running circles around men of all ages. These slides do a good deal to confirm that.

3. The rules are all different.
These slides are fascinating because they presuppose that the rules of the world have changed, in favor of a woman like Owen. For example, the rules of privacy are new. Instead of resulting in a Scarlet A, or family embarrassment, Owen reveals she is smart, funny, and a great writer. (And look, agents are already calling her.) The slides also reveal new rules for gatekeeping. Owen did not need permission from anyone, or any workplace experience, to make a more significant impact on the workplace than you did today. Finally, her slides show us that the rules of learning are new. We can share all our knowledge, about anything. Nothing is sacred and nothing is secret, and we can crowdsource anything, to learn everything faster, even how to pick up a lacrosse player and get him into bed.

It’s clear to me that none of this information is ground-breaking in and of itself. There’s a huge study about sex in the US, that reveals a wide swath of the population to be pretty sexually liberal. So what makes these slides so fascinating? I think it’s her spunk and self-knowledge and enthralling sense of her own power. I wish I had had that when I was her age. I am twenty years older than Owen, but she inspires me to be brave, takes risks, and let my creativity get the best of me.

Posted in No image, Women
133 comments on “Snapshot of the new workplace: Karen Owen’s PowerPoint
  1. Jacqueline says:

    Paging Edward Tufte…

  2. Jordan says:

    “I think it’s her spunk and self-knowledge and enthralling sense of her own power.”

    I got a different impression. I was struck by just how immature, vapid, and unappealing she and her sexual partners are. I’m just a little older than them (29,) and it’s amazing to me that there are people like this in the world. I was more mature at 13 than they are in their 20’s. There’s really no victory or achievement here for anybody.

    • Doug says:

      I could not agree more with your comment. I can’t even believe the author of this blog post would try to link these disgusting actions to some sort of female empowerment. Not a frequenter of this blog, but this article seems so disillusioned that I almost think the whole thing has to be satirical.

    • Kandeezie says:

      Do people still slut-shame women? Is this 1876, 1952, or whenever-the-hell? People are mad at glass ceilings while slut-shaming in the same breath. See anything wrong with that? No…? Ok, dinosaur.

  3. youhavegottobekidding says:

    I was struck by how slutty and shameless the little trollop was. It makes me excited to think of a whole generation of young people contracting sexually transmitted diseases, embarassing and humiliating their families and ending up infertile! Viva la revolution! Her mother must be so proud. By the way, no one ever married Monica Lewinsky. Just saying . .

    • Danae says:

      You call her slutty, shameless, and a trollop – what words do you have for the men? And who cares if “no one ever married Lewinsky”? Marriage is not the only yardstick we should be judged by.

      I thought it was amusing in a share-with-your-girlfriends kind of way, but I don’t see a big empowerment thing here. Who *doesn’t* know how to use PP? It’s like using any standard MS Office program, not a rare skill. It’s a type of communication used by men? Uh, ok, it’s also easy to craft and easy to share and email. So she used a tool appropriate to the task – that’s nice, but hardly revolutionary. I’m more worried about young women graduating from Duke who don’t know how to use it.

  4. subrookie says:

    So you want to portray this person who’s only claim to fame is that she spread her legs and wrote about it as some kind of glass ceiling breaker? Regardless of whether this was a man or a woman the rules are not different, she named names, it was wrong and immature.

    Go ahead, make her your hero. 60% of employers google a potential employee before they hire them. Her parents spent around $40K a year to send her to Duke. They might as well sent her to a community college after this debacle. I didn’t finish reading her paper thinking she was empowering women everywhere, I left it thinking she was rather pathetic. Your take is that men are afraid of 20-something women? Really? Sorry, we’re not and she only proved that. Of the 14 people involved, she’s going to have the longest lasting damage out of this.

    • Giorgio says:

      Very well said. There’s a saying that goes “Never put on the Internet something you wouldn’t want your grandma to see”, such as getting drunk and being screwed by a dozen of strangers.
      By the way, she really doesn’t know how to prepare slides (which are meant for presentations, not reading), there is by far too much text.
      If this is career advice, one less blog in my feed reader…

  5. Mandy says:

    I agree with Jacqueline. What have women “achieved” from Karen Owen’s conquest powerpoint? I fear that the men at the office now expect me to whore around and then brag about it. How will this help anyone take me or any other young woman at the office seriously?

  6. subrookie says:

    As for the “agents are already calling her” comment, agents were calling Steve Slater after he blew a slide and jumped out of a JetBlue airplane. Where’s he now? The internet is a fickle thing, 15 mins come and go. In the time it takes to sit down and have a book written, it’s moved on. Sure, the double rainbow guy made a Microsoft commercial but I doubt he’ll be able to make a career out of his viral video.

    I also read somewhere that either her dad or granddad is a preacher at a small baptist church. Was it all worth it to embarrass your family? I have no problem with woman being sexually liberal and successful in their careers but I think the guys involved in this case got far more out of it than she did. They were out for easy sex and she provided it. That hardly makes her a poster child for women in the workplace.

  7. Fact says:

    If the author of this is really as inspired by Karen Owen as she says she is, when can I do it in her mouth?

  8. guest12one says:

    Come on now, Girls talk about sex with other girlsin detail. All Karen did was write about it, and she was the first to do this. Karen just called a spade a spade when it comes to sex in college. Everyone who went to college knows, what she wrote about exist but no one wanted to talked about publicly it was taboo. Karen just opened the door on a taboo subject.

  9. Brian Hall says:

    You’ve come a long way, baby.

  10. Brian Hall says:

    You’ve come a long way, baby.
    Come a few times, in fact.

  11. subrookie says:

    Fine women can talk about who they have sex with, I don’t think anyone said they couldn’t. The poor decision came when she put it in digital format and emailed it to her friends. Had her essay not had names and photographs of real people it might be humorous.

    I really can’t believe anyone would defend her. She chased athletes and they used her body. That’s it. As someone who went to college too, I didn’t respect women that did that then, and don’t now.

  12. K3 says:

    The only novel thing about this story is that a girl did what tons of guys in college do – write salacious details about her sexual conquests and share them with her friends. The interesting part is the responses it’s drawn and what this tells us about our society. There is less vilification than there would have been a generation ago, but enough to illustrate that women are still judged by a very different standard than men when it comes to sex.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Well, I do think it’s true that the most revealing part of Owen’s slides is what the reaction is. Sometimes it’s not the content that is so shocking but the response to the content. This has been true forever: Think Huck Finn, or Manet’s paintings…

      Penelope

      • Jeff G says:

        Here’s my “reaction”.

        1) That you find her document “inspirational” is bizarre. She aired her private life for all to see – you analysis of her motivations doesn’t match the facts. Who writes 42 slides, which clearly took a long time to put together, for only 3 friends? You can’t really believe that. Just because she said it was for 3 friends doesn’t mean that is the truth. Besides, these 3 friends probably know all this stuff anyway. The most logical conclusion is that this was meant for a far wider audience.

        2) Which means she egregiously violated the privacy of her “subjects”. If that inspires you, you’re seriously demented. She can do whatever she likes in private – but leave it there. Nobody on her list would have consented to this documentation, so it was wrong to do.

        3) Female empowerment does not equate to promiscuity. Seems like too many women who call themselves “feminists” somehow believe that they do.

        4) Nobody is scared of female sexuality. And nobody’s afraid of women. If a middle-aged man is having rings run around him by a girl in her 20s (not sure where your evidence is to support your claim), what would he expect by getting involved with a girl in her 20s?

        5) I am a Duke alum. This brings further negative attention to the school, and it’s unnecessary.

        6) This document was written, as Owen says herself, in response to a guy asking her about where he ranked on her “f*** list”. Sounds like someone who was annoyed that she had a reputation as promiscuous. Doesn’t sound like someone who was empowered. Her “work” should therefore be condemned, not celebrated.

        7) Karen Owen will forever be tarnished by this, whether women celebrate her or not, and whether you think she should be or not. That’s the real world. Rather than encouraging other women to follow in her footsteps, you should be counseling women that this isn’t the way to succeed in the world.

  13. Mike says:

    That’s why I enjoy this blog – not afraid to be controversial, but in an intelligent way.
    This would be my thoughts on these power points: For a long time, women were not allowed to “use” their sexual powers. They were limited by a male power system that understood the power that sex and youth and beauty could have (at least on some level), and who thus wanted to limit that power. Now, with the cultural enlightenment of the last 50 years, violence of any type cannot be done against sexually open women (whether it be physical or social) – at least in North America. Especially by “jealous” men – the kind that women do not find as evolutionarily attractive as the men which this girl wrote about in her power point, but who may tend to end up working at places like “google” (in “up and coming positions”) through hard work and sacrifice.
    As a 20-something dude, I am often struck by something when I meet women in my 20-something range who are no longer “socially-limited” (in my broad social circle). They often want to have intimate relations/a relationship with the same guy. Either the football guy (large, talented hunter) or the “older” successful man (powerful tribal chief). However, this leads to a sort of social messed up situation: with 90% of the women wanting to get with 10% of the guys (chris rock joke), there will be women who aren’t going to get anywhere, and thus will feel – emotionally disillusioned, “slutty” (after talking to Grandma), and upset. Which I think (along with moderately successful, “hold-my-own” and keep the lonely climb up) guys like myself leads to people going back to the comfort of the secure social roles of religion and “old-timey” values. Hope that makes sense…

  14. Mike says:

    That’s why I enjoy this blog – not afraid to be controversial, but in an intelligent way.
    This would be my thoughts on these power points: For a long time, women were not allowed to “use” their sexual powers. They were limited by a male power system that understood the power that sex and youth and beauty could have (at least on some level), and who thus wanted to limit that power. Now, with the cultural enlightenment of the last 50 years, violence of any type cannot be done against sexually open women (whether it be physical or social) – at least in North America. Especially by “jealous” men – the kind that women do not find as evolutionarily attractive as the men which this girl wrote about in her power point, but who may tend to end up working at places like “google” (in “up and coming positions”) through hard work and sacrifice.
    As a 20-something dude, I am often struck by something when I meet women in my 20-something range who are no longer “socially-limited” (in my broad social circle). They often want to have intimate relations/a relationship with the same guy. Either the football guy (large, talented hunter) or the “older” successful man (powerful tribal chief). However, this leads to a sort of social messed up situation: with 90% of the women wanting to get with 10% of the guys (chris rock joke), there will be women who aren’t going to get anywhere, and thus will feel – emotionally disillusioned, “slutty” (after talking to Grandma), and upset. Which I think (along with moderately successful, “hold-my-own” and keep the lonely climb up) guys like myself leads to people going back to the comfort of the secure social roles of religion and “old-timey” values.
    I think negative reactions to this girl are coming from the backlash against the destabilization of social scenes that comes from men and women’s insecurities with what I was talking about above… Hope that makes sense…

  15. Dani says:

    What bothers me about this isn’t that it’s yet another “women who don’t feel shame about having sex are the BEST AND TOTALLY WIN” post, but that Penelope’s cherry-picking her data about women’s incomes.

    The article linked here about young women in Atlanta making 121% of what men their age do acknowledges that that’s the outlier, that nationwide it’s 8%, that it comes from a higher percentage of women going to college and more men going into fields that are disappearing, blah blah detail blah. But the big point is at the bottom:

    “While these particular women earn more than their male peers, women on the whole haven’t reached equal status in any particular job or education level. For instance, women with a bachelor’s degree had median earnings of $39,571 between 2006 and 2008, compared with $59,079 for men at the same education level, according to the Census.

    “At every education level, from high-school dropouts to Ph.D.s, women continue to earn less than their male peers.”

    • Mike says:

      I’ve never found someone who was concerned about issue like this that could respond to the points of Warren Farrell (a short summary regarding one of his books that I found to be excellent, logical reading): http://management.about.com/od/womenminorities/a/MenEarnMore2005.htm
      Basically, I think that it’s more about the choices that people make as they go along, and the fact that, after going through a stage like this Duke University girl (although may not as spectacular) women often (though not always) fall into traditional roles.

  16. Robin says:

    I get the message, PT. You have a very…interesting way of stating said message, but I still get it. :)

    • Jesse says:

      Regardless, the tides are shifting. You can see it at every level and in every degree. I work in tech, and in a recent chemistry trade magazine, of people who were withing 1-5 yrs out of college, women were making more then men (5-10% more or 105-110% of men- you silly nit pickers). Now that’s chemistry a traditionally male dominated field, and one of the later ones to equalize. So I ask you, if the day comes that at every level women are making 5-25% more than men, will you take up the same cry of inequality, and defend men’s rights to equal pay for equal work?

  17. Alex says:

    “in Atlanta young women earn an incredible 121% more than their male counterparts.”

    The reason the 121% more figure is incredible is that you misread the article. The women are making 121% of the salary of men, i.e., 21% more, not 121% more.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Oh. That is a big difference. And I have never been great with numbers. So thanks for the correction.

      Penelope

  18. Gill Bates says:

    Whoever wrote this drivel is a sexist pig. Powerpoint “used in a revolutionary way” ?!? No way. PPT as a male tool? Again no way. You should see the number of female vendors and their PPT presentations that I have to sit through.

    Men are afraid of twenty something women?
    Again whoever wrote this should be banned from writing anythng except a diary.

  19. Zen Cushion says:

    You write: “Owen’s slides make me excited…”

    So, your ‘creative use of powerpoint’, ‘women in the workplace’ etc themes are just porn-flick coverups for your apparent admiration of her ‘exploits’, up to and including possibly that you wished you had the experiences ?

    And, as for, “the rules of the world have changed, in favor of a woman like Owen” — oh, you mean that we are more tolerant of nymphomaniac whores ? THAT’s progress, right ?

    • Mike says:

      Sex is exciting. Anybody who denies that is at least a little full of it. The worst sex that I’ve ever had has still been among the best experiences I’ve ever had :)
      I think that anyone of us would love the idea of having sex with the entire football team (or in other cases, like my case, the entire cheerleading team) if they could and they thought that there would be no consequences. It would be fantastic (likely) just as an experience, as long as everyone was just enjoying (or trying to enjoy) themselves. I use the football team example because I’m being a little flippant, but I think that the point holds with anyone that you find attractive for whatever reason. Experiences like the ones that the girl is describing in the powerpoints would be intense and interesting even when they weren’t perfect… at least the experiences in and of themselves.
      The rub comes in when you look at your life as a whole and the social relationships that allow for these things to happen. You (whether you’re a man or a woman) likely wouldn’t enjoy experiences because you’re too worried about their implications. And I’m not saying that you’re exactly wrong – life has competing interests. What will they think of me… will they love me? This person is beautiful/hideous, what will my friends think? What if we have a kid? What if I have to get treated for an STD… what will the people on the internets think (LOL) and so forth.
      Maybe having “sex” with a lot of people isn’t your thing. However, my experience is that the sort of people that judge others for doing this kind of thing are usually unattractive (not just physical, but often that). They don’t feel like they could participate in the sort of orgy that this girl has involved herself in (they would feel insecure, which isn’t always bad) – so they rail against it.
      Just because the powerpoint girl and the author of the blog don’t want the same things in life that you want (or want them in the same way) – why are they “bad”?

      • Zen Cushion says:

        @ Mike: You talkin’ to me ? You talkin’ to ME ??

        because when you say:

        QUOTE ”
        Maybe having “sex” with a lot of people isn’t your thing. However, my experience is that the sort of people that judge others for doing this kind of thing are usually unattractive (not just physical, but often that). They don’t feel like they could participate in the sort of orgy that this girl has involved herself in (they would feel insecure, which isn’t always bad) – €“ so they rail against it.
        ” UNQUOTE

        You are really on thin ice, and simply exposing your own, er, ass-umptions. People can do whatever they want in life — just be prepared to pay the consequences. And believe me, she is paying the consequences, and will be for a LONG time. I’m not moralizing about her personal choice of private behavior — but documenting her escapades in a detached farce in which she treats her partners as pieces of meat and then names names and shows photos ? And e-mails it to “friends” ?? Give me a break — she is an idiot !

        And you are *clueless* when you speculate about the sex life, personality, or ‘attractiveness’ of people whom you don’t know.

        Sounds like you miss the “good old days” in high school or college. Maybe you should go back. Or, perhaps you are still there, or have never moved on.

      • Mike says:

        “@ Mike: You talkin’ to me ? You talkin’ to ME ??”

        **AWESOME opener LOL – actually it is pretty funny :)

        Consequences. Paying for. Is this kinda shit really worth getting that working up over that someone has to “pay” for the rest of their life? Do these young men need to be that AGAST about being RATED in a powerpoint that probably slipped out after one of her friends was thinking along the same lines as yourself (which I think is likely). Maybe she is a little tactless. But why the hell do people have to get so worked up about it? Why can’t we just be happy that other people are having a good time, and maybe even expressing their feelings about that time in a quirky, a little weird kinda way?

        “And you are *clueless* when you speculate about the sex life, personality, or ‘attractiveness’ of people whom you don’t know.”

        I suspect that I’m not that far off. Just sayin’

        “Sounds like you miss the “good old days” in high school or college. Maybe you should go back. Or, perhaps you are still there, or have never moved on.”

        Nope. I’ve never been “conventionally” attractive to many women. It something that I had to work on. However, sitting around, listening to other “not conventionally attractive” people bemoan sluts started to make me think after a while.

  20. Some Dude says:

    Did anyone actually read the PowerPoint? Go download it.

    The conclusion is that she liked guys with big cocks who fucked her so hard that she couldn’t walk the next day. She subtracted major points off guys who had average or small “hardware,” or didn’t last long (one of the highest rated guys lasted an hour). She liked guys who were aggressive and gave her bruises.

    How does this type of casual sex empower women?

  21. Bill says:

    The praise for her PowerPoint skills is laughable: how stupid to you think Duke women are? My reading of Karen’s opus is that she is smart and perspicacious, in that she buys in to the values of male jock culture (e.g. in praise of aggression, stamina, dick size, physique, machismo, NSA, alcohol, etc) yet turns the tables around by evaluating her subjects with brutal honesty (yet not unfairly) using their own values and measures. No matter how oversized a jock’s ego may be, the measure of his manhood is a weak chink in his armor; and by assuming her position as judge, she reasserts female choice and empowerment. I may not buy into her (and their) values, but it’s refreshing to see that in this lekking arena, with the peacocks proudly strutting about, it’s still the peahen who judges her mate and takes her pick.

  22. Bob says:

    This incident has the potential to be ultimately positive for Ms. Owen just like numerous quasi-celebs who started who started their “careers” with sex tapes (although her family would probably not agree). However, to call it empowering is ridiculous. This was a reckless, dumb thing to do and the fact that it was a woman doesn’t automatically make it empowering. Sending that email showed poor judgement and immaturity on her part. And she honestly thought that email wouldn’t be forwarded like crazy?

    Your opinion on PowerPoint being a male-oriented tool is too stupid to even
    bother addressing.

  23. ip2k says:

    “I think it’s her spunk”

    OBVIOUSLY.

  24. Fact says:

    Why doesn’t the author practice what she preaches and put it out there for world, if she believes in her own blog?

  25. Page 48 says:

    I think coedslutz.com did a feature on her…or maybe that was another girl.

  26. AtM says:

    So this is what ‘privilaged white girls’ (aka feminists) do on their free time, write about their sexual partners and spread that information on the internet.

    seems rather imature to me.

  27. Betty says:

    This poor messed up girl is just another gruesome example of our shipwrecked society and the adverse effects of reality TV. She clearly has no discretion, boundaries, insight or self worth whatsoever, and why the public is subjected to her sort of perverse public lack of dignity is beyond me.

  28. Tony says:

    The entire powerpoint was laden with pretty racist comments…I can’t believe “feminists” think this is progress and a sign of female empowerment

  29. Tony says:

    I assume that this girls was a humanities or social science major….computer science and math majors aren’t dumb enough to do things like that.

  30. ResuMAYDAY says:

    Empowering? Not from this side of the desk. I couldn’t care less that she got drunk and screwed a bunch of strangers – that’s something she and her pharmacist have to live with, not me. But Penelope actually praising not only the acts themselves, but her writing style (not that entertaining, in my book) and that she used PowerPoint (way to play with the boys’ toys!) is really a huge let down. PowerPoint is a male tool? That’s just a wee bit too paranoid/crazy/conspiracy theorist for me.
    So a few slimy agents wanted to jump on her. I mean, her bandwagon. So what? And the Today show or GMA or whomever wants to get a little salacious. I have to wonder (since it doesn’t seem that it was her intention for this to become such a sensation) what Ms. Ownen wants from her career. Is it to be THIS PERSON for the next few years? If so, she had better deliver something even more shocking the next time, or we’ll never hear from her again. (The horror!)
    If this is not where she wanted to take her career, then she should write to Penelope about advice on legal name changes.
    I have to wonder how all those men would rate her?

  31. Frank says:

    This chick sounds like a Bonobo in heat. Evidently any kiss-and-tell laxtitute is OK in Trunk’s book.

  32. Ann says:

    Who cares who is having sex with whom? Boring. We all do that. We will have evolved meaningfully when we’re equally bored with this news – not excited because she’s female.

    • Jessica says:

      I agree, Ann!

      Although I’m into it because I find a lot of the men very fuckable and love getting the raunchy details. Mmm!

  33. Starker says:

    This a joke right? You give career advice and the Duke slut has impressed the hell out of you. Has it occurred to you that with one egregiously stupid act she has likely removed herself from being considered from any serious job forever? In the circumstances, she would normally change her name and relocate. In this case, however, she will be dealing with lawsuits for the rest of her life and hiding won’t be an option. And you find this empowering for women? You recall the case at Rutgers when fun-loving youths employing social media drove a gay dude to suicide. The two cases are not exactly parallel, but the Rutgers duo are looking at five years in prison.

    Many of the above comments are thoughtful, but I notice that no one raises the issue that sex, for many of us at least, is a private matter. I wouldn’t care if Ms. Owen rated me 15 out of 10 and said my peen was three feet long, she would still be obliged to hire bodyguards. I can guess that you think humiliating men, talking about their lack of prowess and equipment, is “empowering” for women. But let’s do a thought experiment: I drink three quarts of bourbon, sniff glue and become sufficiently deranged so that I have sex with you. I then construct a 40-page document using PowerPoint that names you as one of my trix. I rate you one out of 10 and summoning my spunk and self-knowledge describe your vag as resembling the Lincoln Tunnel and smelling as if the Fulton Fish Market had collided with a freighter carrying excrement. These are New York City references, friends. See that’s the equivalent to what this bitch did to the men she described in her fun document. War is hell. lady. Think about it.

    • Jessica says:

      This is an interesting comment on power. You say if she had slept with you and broadcasted it, she would need to hire a bodyguard afterward. Why? Because you will physically harm her?

      That’s what it sounds like and that is very telling of how you (and others) are uncomfortable with this shift in power towards women. In this case, perhaps 20 something women who are ‘sluts’.

      Seems like you and a lot of people are angry with her, perhaps for taking some of the power away from those alpha males – it is acceptable for those guys to have power, but not for Ms. Owen because she is just a slut. And she should be ashamed of herself, not bragging about it. Right?

      • Giorgio says:

        Diffusing analysis of sex performance and private parts size is quite an infraction to privacy, either when made by men or women.

      • Penelope Trunk says:

        Great comment, Jessica. It’s times like this that I want one of those features on my blog where people can vote up to the top the comments they like best. I’d vote for yours.

        Penelope

      • Chris says:

        Wow, Jessica, I’m not sure which is worse: your lack of reading comprehension, or your pathetic recitations from the Book of Woman.

        Starker has it absolutely right (and said it well, by the way). If this were a young guy who did the same to a group of young women, you would be justifiably horrified. But, typical of the “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” crowd, it’s ok because she’s a girl.

        Well, sorry, but the reality is that she’s a stupid, immature, vile little creature who deserves whatever it is that she gets.

    • Maureen Sharib says:

      War is hell. I see you guys are thinkin’ about it.

  34. ADoodle says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed her “thesis”. I can only hope this leads some men to make sure they are actually pleasing the women they have sex with, instead of just assuming (incorrectly).

    @Frank: Humans would do well to emulate the Bonobo “make love not war” way of life.

  35. Jessica says:

    I also enjoyed her thesis. It is empowering because it shows women can have sexual exploits and not be ashamed. Good for her for having slept with a bunch of hot men!

    And she hardly wrote anything damaging about the men, please.

    What I didn’t like about her thesis was the racially insensitive comments regarding Blacks and Asians. Even the Canadian comment I found offensive. I know the Canadian guy was a big douche bag, but don’t ridicule a whole nation of Canadians for that.

    Otherwise, applause for breaking the sexual conquest taboo for women.

    • Jeff G says:

      Why applause? Here’s a news flash for you – there have always been promiscuous men, and therefore there have always been promiscuous women. Karen Owen revealing she is a “tramp” (using Owen’s own word from her PPT) is not revelatory in any way.

      You seem like one of those girls who thinks that somehow men are rewarded for being promiscuous, but girls are condemned. No one in the real world rewards a man for being promiscuous, except other guys who are. If you think all men sit around and talk about their “conquests”, they don’t. Women discuss this stuff much more than men and get way more graphic. That’s your privilege – but do it in private.

      I cannot understand how women claim this is “empowering” and celebrate what she did. This was an act of spite intended for a wide audience. That you women think this is something worth celebrating is incredibly misguided. Women have sought for generations not to be objectified. Karen Owen didn’t break any taboos – she reinforced the objectification of women, as are all women posting their boundless support for her actions.

      She’s got a deep need for attention – well, now she has it. That kind of attention shouldn’t be encouraged.

    • Paul says:

      Thesis? Thesis?? A PowerPoint list of sex acts is a thesis at duke university? The day is long past, it seems, when an employer could make any judgements on an applicants quality based on an academic degree. Academia has smarmed itself into irrelevance.

  36. Starker says:

    “[T]hat is very telling of how you (and others) are uncomfortable with this shift in power towards women. In this case, perhaps 20 something women who are ‘sluts’.”

    Jessica, in my world there are virtually no women with real power. I work in all-white world and live on the dark side of town. In both venues, virtually all the shot-callers are male, whether they are wearing suits or gang colors. I’m sorry you didn’t understand my point. I was talking about respect and privacy, not power. But I guess if you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    I think we may have a generational conflict going on here. Twenty-something women are not on my radar screen. As an old-school Bronx shitkicker I don’t talk about specific sex EVER. That’s the way I grew up, what I do in the bedroom or wherever is not for the entertainment of others, male or female. I regret that habit has not survived to inform succeeding generations. You’re quite right though in inferring that I have no respect for sluts of whatever age, male or female. Peace.

  37. Alpha Betti says:

    Alrighty. Clearly what we need to do is get hold of Karen and/or Penelope and all you indignant commentators can take part in dunking her/them in a public pond. Or is that kind of what’s happening anyway?

  38. Brad says:

    If this was empowering Owen would be out there defending her work, instead of apologizing and going dark. She seems more humiliated than empowered.

    And she’s hardly new. Since no one else seems to remember, PT’s first book was largely about her own sex life.

  39. Maureen Sharib says:

    It’s very interesting that many of the pro (anti)Karen/Penelope comments here are from men. Just like someone above said “war is hell” – so are paybacks.

  40. Maureen Sharib says:

    I meant to say anti-Karen/Penelope. Man, it’s early…

    • Mike says:

      the one sentiment that I will agree with from the people that are freaking out about this was the “naming people directly thing” and rating them” thing. I do think that if this were a guy doing it (as guy friends have done verbally with me in the past) – I might be a little bit like “that’s tactless dude”. I do think that, even if you are very open about your sexuality as a man or a women, the goal shouldn’t be competitive (i.e. to rate people). Rather it should be to have a fiercely sexy time and to learn from the wide variety of people that exist out there in the world.
      Now, that being said, I think that calling a women a slut is an attempt to reassert traditional control over a young, beautiful woman. I think that it’s likely a lot of dudes doing it, but it’s probably not all dude. Because, lets face it, female youth and beauty combined with an open sexuality can be a very destabilizing force for a lot of people. She’ll have sex with a lot of guys but not with me can make guys pull the “slut” word really fast. Used to see it all the time when I belonged to a fraternity and it always really bothered me. Also, tightly wound women who were insecure and worried about losing their fellow would call other women sluts too.
      I guess that there is a scary thing at the bottom of this – what I have been running around here: We rate each other. We make swift little calculations as to what we are going to invest in each other. And the fact that this girls directness in her powerpoints highlights that fact bothers people – actually it’s that combined with her detachment and initial lack of fear at society’s “you’re a slut” mechanism.
      For a lot of people that I’ve met – sex isn’t an experience to have with others that you find attractive: it’s THE experience. It involves a lot of investment and they hate (terribly hate) when they see people who aren’t like that (or at least like that all the time).
      Hope I at least kinda made sense. It’s an issue that I’ve thought about a fair bit.

    • waomi nolf says:

      And the reverse is true for the pro-Karen/Penelope comments. So what’s you point?

  41. Jackal says:

    I finally saw all uncensored photos of Karen Owen on this site:
    http://todaynews7.blogspot.com/2010/10/complete-slideshow-karen-owens-duke.html
    warning, some pics are NSFW

  42. Sam says:

    She did what Garr Reynolds would call a slideument. It’s a cross between a presentation and a document, with the result that both are bad. It might be the thing to use to convince an investor, but it’s not a good presentation by any standards.

  43. gimmeabreak says:

    I think that there is something more to this story. Think about it this way – she put together a 42 page PP presentation with pics, graphs, etc, to email to 3 friends. Hmmmm…..
    Plus, for someone to graduate from a college such as Duke, don’t they have to be, um, SMART????? For her to not know that the entire thing would not be made public is foolish. The internet is not a new thing – she knew it would be forwarded and spread (hehe) to others…(again, hehe)
    Yes, men brag about their conquests – rock stars, etc, but to try to “empower” yourself and others by making a PP report is foolish, demeaning, and embarrassing for her family. Her poor mother.

    Any tread left on the tires? No non-paying guy will want to be with her now. As far as future jobs, she can always be a bunny in Reno.

    • Jeff G says:

      Finally, somebody gets it.

      This document was intended for a wide audience. That makes it 100% wrong. Women conveniently ignore the racist comments she makes and the fact that this was, most likely, intended for the Duke University community. Certainly was intended for more than 3 people. Owen is certainly lying about the intended distribution list, and women who are praising her are conveniently hiding behind that lie. That’s not empowering, it’s just sad.

  44. David says:

    It amazes me how many women line up to start hurling the words “slut” “tramp” “whore” etc at Owen. You do realize that you are just are just perpetuating the male based society concept? If a guy wrote this, other guys would just laugh and high five each other. Some would even ask the girls in the “experiment” out.

    “Oh her poor mother” GIVE ME A BREAK! Seriously! This is why some many kids out of college live with their parents or their parents pay for their apartment until they’re into their 30’s. Cut the cord folks. If you say this are you actually saying you can’t make your own life decisions without your own parents approval? Lame…

    Another hilarious comment…”no one ever married Monika Lewinsky.” This has got to be coming from someone who has not been married before and gets their relationship advice from Cosmopolitan or Redbook. In a world where cheating/infidelity is pretty much accepted practice or ignored for keeping your image clean and shiny to your friends and family. Get a clue before you say stupid sh*t like that.

    You know the real reason men are making direct and backhanded comments about how slutty Owen is, is because Owen’s little writing piece scares the living sh*t out of them. No one likes to be judged especially publicly. And yes, she should NOT have named names…but, men hate feeling that women have power over them because of their genetic “addiction” that almost all men cannot do without.

    If you are smart, you would know that a person’s experience is based on their own expectations and feelings before it happens. It’s all a dance with looks, words and confidence. If the guy is super confident, walking into the “game” she is more than likely going to walk away from the experience with a positive outcome. No matter his size or the stupid crap he says.

    • Sam Adams says:

      David – the reason for the double-standard is the different biological roles that men and women play. I suggest you read something about evolutionary biology and psychology, that should alleviate your misconceptions. Fair or unfair are not at issue – we are a certain way because of our ancestry – males and females evolved with different biological imperatives and different goals – males to impregnate the most females to pass on their genes, and females to be choosy about the father of their offspring so as to only give birth from worthy males.

      • SIna says:

        Evolutionary Psychology also explains why some men feel the imperative to rape, and why there are serial killers and other sadistic people. Just because something can be explained does not mean it should just be accepted that way, regardless of any fairness.

  45. anymouse says:

    “‘Owen did not need permission from anyone””

    Wrong – she did need permission from the people in the slides that did not consent to having their information made public. Her right/entitlement to express herself when it infringes on the rights of others to choose when where why and in what manner to disclose the details of their private life. Trampling on the rights of others whatever the reason is not cause to celebrate.

  46. jseliger says:

    … the most revealing part of Owen’s slides is what the reaction is.

    I agree, and I started writing a comment that turned into a blog post that turned into an essay: Snapshot of the new workplace and the symbolic content of Karen Owen's "horizontal academics." Although I can’t easily excerpt the comment, I think that Owen has been (un?)lucky enough to become a symbol for changes not just in the workplace, but in life. Those changes tie into the way parents and culture shape their children, especially their daughters, and how generational preferences of parents intersect with work and with sex.

    The two are more intertwined than they might first seem.

  47. Angel says:

    Conduct unbecoming, Karen. As long as you’re on the loose, there’s gonna be a trailer park missing its trash.

  48. melanie gao says:

    Is this really what we want the post-feminist world to look like? These guys thought they were hooking up for some consensual sex and now their picture, name, size and skill level is being emailed, published, posted and tweeted all over the place?

    That’s not the way I want to treat my brothers in my post-feminist world.

  49. Harold says:

    Far be it for me to comment on what women do in their personal lives.

    This is not about a female taking back power from the alpha males. This is about a university student who has possible ruined her entire professional future. Karen Owens will forever be known for this, and any prospective employer will know this too.

    Please tell me what would have happened had a male done this? If a guy had made a list of all the girls he slept with and criticized their small breasts, that they didn’t perform oral sex long enough etc… He’d have been ripped apart in the media. Yes there is a double-standard when it comes to having casual sex. Males are considered studs and females are considered sluts. But this is not about that.

    From what I picked up from her powerpoint, is that she has little to no powerpoint skills at all. I could make better powerpoints in elementary school. I also see she has a problem with alcohol because one of her escapades she says she was so drunk she nearly blacked out while the male continued to have sex with her. How is that fun or liberating?

    From her powerpoints, she has a, clearly, misguided fascination with size. She complains guys are too small to satisfy her but then the large ones hurt too much or aren’t enjoyable. She clearly takes no initiative to improve the sex herself or place blame on her shoulders.

    I’m not defending the males at all. But did they deserve to have their intimate pictures, details about penis size, where they had sex, the drugs they used be published online for the world to see? One of them was getting married this week from what I heard.

    If you think Karen Owens, in emailing this to her closest friends didn’t think it would get out, she’s not as smart as you made her seem now is she Penelope. As for the Atlanta comment, you can’t fix misogyny by creating misandry. Atlanta is just the beginning of what will happen in every city. You cuold say it’s warranted if you’re a feminist, to say that after centuries to millenia of male domination, it’s only fitting females deserve the upper hand, but isn’t feminism about female equality? And so by offering females more than males, you’re perpetuating the very thing you want to abolish.

    I’m not trying to patronize or deem myself above anyone, but Karen Owens did a disservice to young women in university, to the men that she slept with, and to Duke University who’s reputation she has tarnished. When people are having intercourse openly in the school library, something needs fixing.

  50. tiffany says:

    *shrug.* that’s all i can say about the thing. but then i know people who are out in all sorts of ways about all sorts of things and still have desk jobs with 401K plans and health benefits.

    i don’t think what she did is particularly post-feminist, nor empowering, nor revolutionary, nor significant. but neither the life-ruining, career-ending, epic failure of disastrous proportions that so many of y’all think it is either.

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