A list of the most influential feminists in American history would
almost certainly include names like Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt
and Gloria Steinem. Notably absent from most lists would be the name
Karen Owen, the recent Duke University graduate whose 42-page
PowerPoint "sex list" (the actual title of which uses a saltier word than "sex") evaluating the bedroom
prowess of various Duke athletes went viral earlier this month. But with
Owen's microcelebrity status showing no signs of waning (she's already fielding calls
from agents and editors), is it time to
add Duke's self-proclaimed master of "horizontal
academics" to the list of trailblazers? Perhaps, as a handful of
bloggers cite arguments in her favor:
Playing Field Jezebel's Irin
Carmon applauds Owen for showing that women can be just as cavalier
as men when it comes to physical intimacy. "Here's another reminder,"
writes Carmon, "that women can be as flip, aggressive, or acquisitive
about sex as men can. And there's nothing wrong with that, as long as
all parties are consenting."
- Relatable Owen's need to
chronicle and compare various flings is hardly a unique impulse, writes
Clark-Flory. Her list perfectly embodies the attitudes millennial
women hold towards sex. Writes Clark-Flory:
What I'm more
interested in... is the question of why someone would keep such a list
in the first place -- and, of course, when I say "someone," I mean "a
woman," because we tend to expect this sort of thing from men.
suspect that Owen catalogued each of her conquests because she saw them
as trophies, favorable reflections of her worth and desirability.
course, this sort of between-friends dishing isn't just about showing
off or petting our own egos (although there is plenty of that). We learn
a lot by rehashing the night before with friends -- I don't mean in the
way of hot new Cosmo-esque moves, but rather how our experiences
compare and whether we're, gulp, "normal" (a looming fear for many when
it comes to sex). The short of it is that we think and write and talk
about sex so much because it matters so much -- just like any sort of
intimate interaction we have with other human beings. And, as with most
"intimate" things, it's wise to never let it meet the Internet.
- Changing Perceptions The Washington Post's Alexandra
Petri says that the list shows, among other things, the universal impulse to take control of our lives' narratives. "By recounting the story, you claim agency! You craft your own narrative
and become the wry, ironic storyteller, rather than the drunk girl
doing shots in the corner with Name Redacted... Karen," declares Petri, "is single-handedly giving that
girl stumbling down the steps of your dormitory at noon with someone
else's socks on a better name."
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