Does the Duke 'Sex Thesis' Empower Women?

Last Updated Oct 8, 2010 3:25 PM EDT

I love Karen Owen.

For those of you who missed it, here is Karen Owen's summary of her sex life at Duke University. I should warn you that, technically, it's not safe for work. But in reality, it probably is. I mean, it's in PowerPoint, it's well written, and to anyone who walks by your computer while you're reading it, it'll just look like you know someone who doesn't know the 30-point-font rule. But the fact that so many people (including you) are spending their workday reading about Karen Owen's sex life is testament to the fact that it's a new day for women's power in America. Here's why:

1. She used PowerPoint Is there a more male tool than PowerPoint? First of all, the software is lecture-y and unconversational, which is typical for men at work. Second of all, it's been the tool of choice for the notoriously boys club career: venture capitalists and the people who pitch to them. That Owen used this male tool to talk about what men are really like in bed turns our workplace preconceptions on their head.

2. Men are scared of younger women. This confirms the inkling men have, but dare not admit: Young women are scary. Men are reading Owen's writing, and forwarding it to their friends, because it confirms their fears. Older men are scared of them because they want to have sex with young women. They are surrounded by young, hot, confident women at work, but they are stuck with their families, so they can only fantasize. Younger men are scared of young women because the women are absolutely trouncing them in the workplace. The Wall Street Journal reports that in most cities women earn about 8% more than men and in Atlanta, young women earn 121% more than young men. (Note: Men take over in earning power once women have children.)

3. Women are better in bed than men are. Men always have orgasms and women don't. This is because women are complicated and difficult to please, and men are simple to please. But what ends up happening is that women always perform well and men only do 64% of the time. Do you see the aggressiveness measure on Owen's first slide? Women like men who know what they are doing. Also, Owen is a harbinger of the cracker-jack female workforce that men will have to contend with in and out of bed. The women will make more money at work, but in bed, the ramifications will be oral sex. Right now, the oral sex gap is huge, (in mens' favor, of course), but look out, because women who earn more money receive more oral sex, and Owen's slides seem to me to illustrate a connection.

4. The rules are all different. The old rules, for the old boys club, don't stand up anymore. You can see that in women's earning power. But you can also see it, in a more interesting way, in Owen's slides. The rules of privacy are new â€" she will get a great job from these slides because she's smart, funny and a great writer. (Already, agents are calling her.) The rules of access are new â€" she did not need any connections or experience to make a bigger impact on the work world than you did today. The rules of learning are new â€" we can share all knowledge, about anything. Nothing is sacred and nothing is secret, and we can crowdsource anything, to learn everything faster, even how to pick up a Canadian in a cab and get him in bed.

Ask yourself why the slides fascinate you. Because you'll learn something about yourself. Indiana University just completed a huge study about sex in the US, and the findings reveal that most Americans have a fairly large sexual repertoire. (Example: 18% of women had had anal sex by their 18th birthday.) In fact, little that Owen did is shocking to us. So it's something else.

I, for one, am fascinated that Owen has so much self-knowledge I wish I had had Owen's self-confidence, pluck, and earning power when I was her age. I wish I had been taking control of male tools when I was that young. I wish I had been so good at getting the guy. I am twenty years older than Owen, but she inspires me to be brave, takes risks, and let my creativity get the best of me.