Duke University graduate Karen Owen has made a name for herself — in a manner of speaking (or, technically, writing to Power Point). It probably isn’t the kind of name she hoped to make for herself once she graduated from the prestigious North Carolina university, but it is a name nonetheless. Of course, the cynic might say that Owen planned the entire thing, writing her mock thesis “F*** List” of sexual exploits, sending it to various friends as a “joke,” then sitting back and hoping that the Internet, that open forum of salaciousness and scandal, would do its magic and make her famous. And now she is, as witnessed by Jezebel.com and thousands of articles and postings on the world wide web, regardless if her intent was to amuse or ride a sex scandal wave into the public eye.
Owen wrote a phony 42-page thesis about her sexual exploits back in the spring, then sent it to a bunch of friends. Somewhere along the line, a lack of discretion by one of those who saw the “thesis” prompted Owen’s lack of discretion Power Point, “An Education Beyond The Classroom: Excelling In The Realm of Horizontal Academics,” being disseminated to thousands of websites and pages on the Internet.
The Karen Owen “F**k List” is not so much a mock thesis and joke shared by Owen, but a modern expository of sexual exploits comparable to the old practice of bedpost notching. Unlike the ruining of good furniture, however, which only directs one’s attention to the possibility of the number of sexual experiences the bed’s owner/user might have had, a Power Point presentation of the 13 “notches” — along with evaluation processes, details, pictures, names, and graphs of performance — carved by Owen is far more informative. Couched in the phrasing of a study, Owen talks about her “subjects,” their use of their “hardware,” and gives bonus points for positioning and creativity in location.
In short, bedpost notching has caught up with the Information Age.
But there is a massive difference. Where bedpost notching would involve the notcher actually having to detail the sexual encounters carved after being queried, Owen’s “F*** List” is a full-on display of her sexual history with Duke baseball, lacrosse, and tennis players. Where notches allude, a Power Point presentation exposes.
Owen told Jezebel that (warning: NSFW) the”thesis” was never meant to go beyond the three friends to whom she originally sent the list. But one of those friends e-mailed it to another, and then the list was placed on websites and went viral.
“I regret it with all my heart,” she told the gossip website. “I would never intentionally hurt the people that are mentioned on that.”
Those people are what she described as “top dogs” at Duke University, those who are “the kinds of people that everyone wants to be or be with.”
The University and the young men — and their representatives — have been contacting websites in an effort to somewhat curtail the sex scandal and having those websites at least redact the names of the “tog dogs.”
Owen also pointed out to Jezebel that college fraternities are always posting “f*** lists.”
O Discretion, where art thou?
Apparently the idea of discretion in the Information Age is as antiquated as that of notching bedposts. Of course, with the advent of social networking, where everyone tells everyone every uninteresting detail of their lives, it should not come as a surprise that “f*** lists” exist, or are being bandied about on the Internet like Facebook status updates. But that does not mean that that such abandon should replace consideration for others, or that discretion should be dismissed outright. But that’s the topic of another thesis…