More on the Duke sex paper

Alexis Zarkov writes:

Karen Owen set out to do a spoof on the academy and sex, never intending it to be public. In a letter to Deadspin (which published her slides) she wrote,

As the ashamed author of this slide show, I am horrified at your choice to include all the names that you did. While I cannot stop you from publishing it, this item was never meant to be seen outside of a very small circle of people. Obviously, it has gone viral. However, your inclusion of the real names are causing this awful situation to escalate even further and is actually starting to affect peoples’ lives in ways that go far beyond mere embarrassment. Remove the names immediately, or I will be adding your blog post to the list of things I discuss with my attorney when we meet.

Her major mistake (besides writing the satire in the first place) was putting her piece in electronic form making it easy to circulate. Of course someone could have scanned the hardcopy, but that’s a lot less likely.

If you read some of her slides here, you will see Karen isn’t a bimbo. In slide number 2 (Background) she wrote,

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 the evaluated Subjects, hopefully allowing for future maximization of enjoyment of such procedures.

This slide nicely captures the leaden prose so typical of academic writing. The very kind of writing George Orwell warned against in his famous essay, Politics and the English Language. It’s obvious that the whole project was pure satire, but it got out of control because she used the names of actual people. Absent that, one would be inclined to regard the whole “study” as pure fiction. I’m surprised that a college girl would want to come across as “easy,” but that’s because I come from another generation where we were forbidden to have girls in our dorm rooms except under controlled conditions. Evidently today appearing “easy” carries no stigma.

I have to say that Karen’s adventures do sound like something straight out of Wolfe’s I am Charlotte Simmons. Wolfe’s fictional Dupont University is a composite of Duke, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford. I asked my daughter, who graduated from an Ivy League University earlier in this decade, about how well Simmons portrays modern college life. She said it comes close, but does not apply to a majority of the students. I asked her if she was ever “sexiled” from her dorm room and she said that happened once. I can’t imagine being asked to get out of my bed in the middle of the night so my roommate could carry on. I wouldn’t do it.

In my opinion, I am Charlotte Simmons is really about free will. Read the novel very closely and you will see the sex life of the modern college girl is merely a backdrop. Wolfe is after something much deeper.

LA replies:

So it seems that from Owen’s point of view, the problem comes down to other people improperly distributing her slide show. That she wrote the document in the first place—no problem. That she included the names of the actual people in the document—no problem. It didn’t occur to this bright young woman that once you send out an electronic document it can go anywhere in the world in two minutes. To my mind, that kind of heedlessness is of a piece with her underlying sexual conduct. We live in a world with no boundaries, and with nothing to fear. So spend your college years sleeping with an unlimited number of partners; send to a “few” people on the Internet an electronic document detailing your sexual exploits; cross over to the Mexican side of Falcon Lake, to the far end of the deepest inlet on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake, an area known to be controlled by Mexican gangs. Do whatever you want, because there’s nothing to fear.

October 10

A reader writes from Virginia:

These sexcapades described in detail by Ms. Owen, the Duke co-ed, are old news. Young women have been promiscuous since the pill. I attended a predominantly Jewish summer camp, Wel-Met, as a cabin counselor in 1974 and 1975. Howard Stern was there in 1974. A good portion of the teenage girls and the young women at that camp were ravenously promiscuous and for me some “hookups” happened within 30 minutes of meeting and flirting. I bedded girls as young as 16. You put young men and women together and it will happen. Contraception changed everything.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 09, 2010 12:29 PM | Send

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