Duke Student’s Sex-Rating ‘Thesis’ Goes Viral

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Duke Chapel on the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina

Jim R. Bounds/Bloomberg/Getty

What started out as a private joke ended up around the Internet — and hurting a university’s reputation.

Recent Duke graduate Karen Owen, 22, put together a mock “thesis,” comparing and rating her sexual conquests from her sophomore year to her senior year of college. The PowerPoint presentation named names, showed pictures and provided graphic details of each encounter. Owen claims the list was only meant for three friends, but it was forwarded through most of the university before it made Gawker Media blogs Jezebel and Deadspin. (Warning: The details, though humorous and well-written, may not be safe for work.) The Internet went crazy after that.

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Most of the men Owen claims to have been with are members of the Duke lacrosse team, which has already seen its share of scandal in recent years. Owen’s PowerPoint hitting the news won’t do much to help her school’s image, but it’s still the hot topic on campus.

Owen spoke to Jezebel about the list, saying, “I regret it with all my heart. I would never intentionally hurt the people that are mentioned on that.” She points out, though, that fraternities often make similar lists and don’t face the same level of scandal. “It’s the age-old double standard,” Duke senior Nicole Queathem told the New York Times. “People are more critical of what she did because she’s a girl.”

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Lists like this were widespread long before the Internet. In 1977, students at MIT produced a similar list, ranking 36 male undergrads. They wanted to “turn the tables” on male objectification, but were put on academic probation instead.

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