Duke student's PowerPoint presentation gets her in hot water

Oct 8, 2010 at 12:45 p.m. ET

Duke University student Karen Owen's PowerPoint presentation went viral this week, embarrassing her and the men featured on it. Was Deadspin right to publish the PowerPoint, or was Owen wrong to create it in the first place?

Karen Owens Duke University PowerPoint

Have you ever created a detailed PowerPoint presentation detailing your personal sexual exploits?

No? 2010 Duke University graduate Karen Owen has, and now it's all over the Internet.

A Sex List?

The Duke student's PowerPoint was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek "thesis" for her friends' eyes only. Its title, "An education beyond the classroom: excelling in the realm of horizontal academics", was an obvious attempt to illicit laughs from friends only.

The PowerPoint listed, in great detail, her sexual encounters with a dozen Duke University athletes. She also included their full names, along with the pro's and con's and a rating of each partner.

Goin' Viral

Nothing is sacred these days, not even a sex list. The list started making the email rounds soon after its release, eventually making it into the inbox of a Deadspin reporter. The reporter recognized a juicy scoop and soon posted the Duke student's PowerPoint presentation in its entirety – names, photos and details all there for the world to see.

The PowerPoint presentation infuriated the men, who demanded their names be blacked out from the Deadspin post.

Damage Control

Owen is now attempting to apologize and separate herself from the PowerPoint presentation.

"I regret it with all my heart," she told a reporter at Jezebel. "I would never intentionally hurt the people that are mentioned on that."

She even wrote the reporter who broke the story at Deadspin, telling him to remove the mens' names.

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," she wrote.

"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."

Deadspin, no doubt worried about a lawsuit, complied and blacked out their names, leaving Owen's name and their photos.

A Form of Cyberbullying?

Some are comparing Karen Owen's PowerPoint presentation to a form of cyberbullying. While unintentional, they do have a point. The names of the men are already out there, blacked out or not, and their notoriety will follow them in the future as they pursue careers. They never asked to become the subject of a viral news story.

Sexual Double Standard

Others are wondering if the furor surrounding the Duke student's PowerPoint presentation is just another double standard. Namely, would we make as big a deal about this if a guy created a sex list? No doubt men have done this in the past, and will probably continue to do this in the future.

Yes, it's true that it's getting a lot of attention because a woman wrote it, but ultimately Karen Owen will be remembered for her stupidity rather than her list.

Weigh in -- was Karen Owen's PowerPoint a form of cyberbullying, or just a stupid mistake by a college coed?