Duke Sex Thesis

fuck list

The 2010 Duke University sex thesis (also known as the ‘Duke Fuck List’) controversy arose from a private document written by senior, Karen Owen, in the format of a thesis about her sexual experiences during her time attending the university. Owen wrote and distributed the document to three friends shortly after graduating from the university, in May 2010. By mid-September it was widely available on the internet. In the satirical thesis, titled ‘An education beyond the classroom: excelling in the realm of horizontal academics,’ Owen ranked her partners based on her criteria for performance.

The bulk of the controversy surrounded whether she invaded her partners’ rights to privacy, and whether the subjects of Owen’s paper have a right to sue, as in the case of Jessica Cutler when Cutler published details of her sex life on a blog. It also raised questions as to whether double standards exist if the reaction would have been the same had the document been written by a male. The paper attracted additional attention because some of the men which Owen ranked were from the lacrosse team, and there was an unrelated sex controversy surrounding the team a few years prior.


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