The XX Factor

“Scrawny but Innovative”

The press is in an uproar over a Power Point presentation compiled by 22 year-old Karen Owen, a recent Duke graduate, assessing her sexual escapades with 13 male Duke athletes. This brings back misty water-colored memories from one-third of a century ago, when an MIT alternative weekly did the same thing. I never saw the text itself-in those days there were no personal computers on campus, let alone a World Wide Web-but was nonetheless impressed by the Harvard Crimson ’s vigorous coverage helmed by Jonathan Alter, subsequently a distinguished Newsweek columnist, NBC News analyst, presidential biographer, and friend to yours truly. The Consumer Guide To MIT Men is not available online but Alter’s indelible stories from May 1977 are ( here and here ). The two authors of MIT’s 1977 guide were more comprehensive and consumer-minded than their Duke successor, assessing not 13 males but 36 and awarding each sexual partner up to four stars. Being an innocent freshman when this scandal broke (newly arrived in knee pants), I was deeply impressed by such pithy assessments as “’I did it,’ he said. ‘Did what?’ I asked” and “scrawny but innovative.” I wonder at which American corporation “scrawny but innovative” is CEO today.