I recently read an article asking whether Karen Owen, the former Duke student whose “thesis” recording and rating her sexual activities has gone viral, is a feminist hero. I say no. Some have said that since “men do it all the time” HER actions should be seen as statement of female empowerment is ridiculous. We should be working to get men to STOP this sort of behavior rather than encouraging women to sink to the same level.
Now, I am not going to join in the chorus of people condemning Ms. Owen for daring to be a sexual woman and pursuing gratification through carnal activities. She did nothing wrong by engaging in sex with multiple partners. I do not believe that women should have to keep their legs closed while waiting for Mr. Right to come along, I feel that a woman has just as much right to pursue sexual gratification as a man.
I am simply saying that her choice to compile a list rating and discussing in graphic detail each of her partners should NOT been seen as a heroic action, but rather as a serious lapse in judgment. You cannot email anything that you would not want to go public. I believe her list was a serious breach of the privacy her partners deserved. It is one thing to gossip with your best girlfriends about the size of a man’s penis and quite another to put it out there is cyberspace where it could possibly get into the wrong hands.
I believe that Ms. Owen should be held responsible for her violation of the rights of her partners in college. If any of the men on the list decide to sue OR to press charges for violation of their privacy, she should be taken to task for her poor choice. I hate to see her hailed as a hero simply because her list is seen as “revenge” by the female collective on the male collective. Imitating the actions of men who violate women does not solve any problems, it only exacerbates tensions.
In another example of piss poor judgment, art teacher Melissa Petro, who holds tenure at a school in the Bronx, decided to go into detail about her past as a stripper and a sex worker. Like it or not, teachers are role models for children, and elementary school students do not need to know about the sex lives of the people who stand in front of their classes delivering lessons.
Again, I am not knocking Ms. Petro for her past actions. However, there was no reason for her to publish articles on the internet using her real name. Children are computer savvy. How many parents are prepared to have a conversation with their young kids about the sex trade, and the role their teacher played in it?? Really, she should have been more discreet about what she shared online.
Ms. Petro has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into her actions. Now that this story has gone public, there is no way she can act as an effective teacher and role model for young children. She made a very poor decision, one that could and should remove her permanently from the classroom.
QUESTION: How different would the media coverage be, if were they Black?