Sex by powerpoint puts the bar into bar graph
Sex, booze, a Power Point presentation. The latest raunchy tale to hit the airwaves in the US has all the makings of a bonafide sleaze scandal but with the added benefit of bar graphs. You can see the document here at the wesbite Jezebel.
In May, a female former student of Duke University created a 42 page mock thesis called “An Education Beyond The Classroom: Excelling In The Realm Of Horizontal Academics.”
The report academically analyses 13 sexual conquests, with detailed notes on inventiveness, size, and all-round performance. Written in a faux-scientific tone the author labels the men as “Subjects” and gives them an overall rank as a sexual partner.
A 22-year-old graduate of the venerable college named Karen Owen was soon outed as the author. Subsequently she has claimed she originally only sent the project to a few friends. Friends, who of course forwarded it to other friends. Then, lo and behold, a particularly salacious viral meme was born.
Some have claimed Owen’s work to be a profoundly feminist statement about objectification and sex. Others have simply been busily fashioning large red As to pin to her chest.
Interestingly, it’s not her behaviour that has come under fire, rather the language she used to frame her experiences. Owen’s choice to label the men “subjects” is a deliberately provocative move.
By dehumanising and demeaning her partners, Owen’s “thesis” comes across as an achingly undergraduate piece of flippancy that reeks of her own anxiety.
What is transgressive or empowering about having plenty of mediocre sex with a group of college boys who have the rapier wit of a Chinese fortune cookie?
Take for example Subject 12: “If you beat me at Mario Kart Wii, I just might let you make out with me.”
It is a confronting and explicit document, not least because it leaves readers with an agitating sense of confusion about quite who is the victim in this mucky situation: the 13 young men who have had their privacy spectacularly invaded and humiliating details about their sexual shortcomings made into tabloid fodder? Or the woman who seems proud of the fact that one “subject” gave her a high-five her while she gave him a blow-job?
What comes across is Owen’s insecurity about her body, her looks and how good she is in bed. Owen repeatedly includes compliments men have paid her such as the guy who pointed at her in a crowded room saying, “Quite a nice rack, huh guys?”
What is startling about Owen’s mock thesis is the nearly complete lack of any sentimentality. Her story is seemingly one of pheromones, frat boys and dive bars, each escapade serving to calculatingly add to her sexual repertoire.
There is nothing particularly erotic about her couplings while the bluntly descriptive language reduces many of Owen’s goings-on to being apathetic fumbling. Not quite the stuff of Anais Nin territory.
Owen’s work smacks of post-Sex and the City posturing; the sort of rationale that sets out to contort potentially demeaning experiences into some sort of statement about female sexual liberation.
Perhaps what is evident in Karen Owen’s story is that it reflects the confusion and ambivalence that underpins much of our sexual culture. Presented with conflicting social and cultural meanings attached to sex, from the hyper-confident and empowering to the cheap and tawdry, is it any wonder there is a prevailing sense of disorientation?
The author may have been clumsily trying to make a point about the objectification of women, arguing in an interview with feminist blog Jezebel that frat boys made similar lists all the time. But what Owen has done is highlighted in 14- point- font the fact that there is a glaring double standard when it comes to male and female sexual politics.
If a group of college guys accidentally published a list of girls ranking their breast size and sexual athleticism, the young men in question would find themselves lambasted as being testosterone-fuelled cretins worthy of little beyond a life-long love affair with their right hand.
Karen Owen has expressed contrition for the whole the affair but the fact remains that sex, no matter how drunken, uncomfortable, or with a Canadian should never end up in bullet points.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…