Friday, October 8, 2010

New meaning for "putting up your Dukes"

When I first attended college, I will admit I was totally clueless as to how to please women in the way they expected that I would or could. Oh, I knew the basic manual. When it came down to it, I knew which part went where and what the ultimate endgame should be, but lacking significant experience in the realm of pleasing a partner kept my confidence from rising, even if other parts of my anatomy did from time to time. I admit I fumbled my way from one liaison to another until I found what I would term my first true paramour. We enjoyed each other's company immensely and I can say that it was very exciting and reassuring to finally start to get it right. Maneuvering a rendezvous was also dangerous because I lived at home and the girls dormitory in which she lived was strictly off limits to campus males. That extra level of excitement associated with finding a safe place and not getting caught by the campus police or a dorm monitor probably added to the thrill of the chase. So, 35 years later, as I ponder the Homecoming weekend for Tulane University, I am absolutely amazed that so much has changed in the interim. For one thing I just had my son graduate from own alma mater just five months ago. Because of the privacy laws put into place since I attended, he could do pretty much whatever he wanted, remaining unchecked from outside interference from his unsuspecting father or grandmother who administered his tuition. Throughout his entire academic career I never received a copy of his grades and today can only guesstimate what his final grade point average was. What I'm really bemoaning here is that the college students of today have no reins on them; they operate freely and unfettered from much of the outside influence that concerned me. Today chance or casual sexual encounters seem to occur with much greater frequency than in my day. It appears that girls are becoming sexually active at younger and younger ages and scientific evidence suggests they are entering puberty at ever younger ages too. So-called "booty calls" and "friends with benefits" would have been welcomed by my cronies and me had the times allowed them, but the sad truth is that we weren't smart enough to invent the concepts or have partners that would have agreed to engage in rampant sexual activities so frivolously. Fast forward to present time. Today we have cell phones with cameras that can capture nude photos or shoot videos in the most private of places. Young generations use texting or send sexually explicit materials through cell phones attached to the Internet, which can then be posted online or sent to non-intended sources. "Sexting" occurs with much greater frequency than we might believe and once the item has been posted, it never truly goes away. Knowing all of this, I would have expected to be non-plussed when Duke graduate Karen Owen's pretend seniors honors thesis went viral over the Internet the past few days. Titled "An education beyond the classroom: excelling in horizontal academics," the pseudo work was leaked from one, two or all three of the friends to whom she had sent the sexually charged materials including pictures, bar charts and rankings of her college hookups according to member sizes and sexual prowess. The fact this was a woman unashamedly having sex, using men and objectifying them in oh-so-many ways was revelatory and compelling. When she was contacted by different sites like Jezebel who posted the piece, she was described as contrite. She apologized to all the men she may have hurt by sending the piece to her friends, but she maintained she had not authorized the fake thesis to have gone anywhere else than the three friends to whom she had sent it. She did not apologize for having sex and did not feel embarrassed about her comments. Asked the inevitable question, she admitted she would be happy to do it all over again on as many occasions and with as many positions as she enjoyed previously. The simple truth is that the worm has turned. Owen knows that the chance she will be sued is very slight, especially when most of the postings of the PowerPoint slideshow she sent out have been modified to hide the faces of the male subjects and redacted so that texts will not identify them. Had this been a male publishing a list of his sexual conquests, there is little doubt from me there would have been an uproar and several suits aimed at picking the pockets of the satyr or knocking him down a peg or two. With the exception of the hapless fellow who got a score of three out of ten, most of the men would be pleased to read how well she was pleased. Yet, there is a sense to this incident that what is sauce for the gander is also good for the goose. The men she had sex with were almost all athletes on the Duke lacrosse and baseball squads. They could accurately be described as buff and very physically fit. While it doesn't matter, Owen is extremely attractive in her own right. To be fair, though, the protection of both sexes needs to be enforced from such unintended publicity and what is clearly an invasion of their privacy. The days of men bragging in the locker room has given way to women getting even on the Internet. Colleges will be looking to see how they fit into this new formula. I'm not sure they want their campuses to be seen as the canvas on which countless women will now paint their portraits of revenge. Suppose the guy with the three out of ten ranking does sue. What if the next release is from a college fraternity ranking the figures of the sorority members they have inducted into their...ahem...membership. The big question is does this mean that Duke and other colleges and universities in an effort to distance themselves might now require their new students to agree not to publish such salacious material in the future? Inquiring minds and friends with benefits might want to know.

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