Live Nude Sex Show!

… is not what you would expect to be the heading used to advertise an elective on-campus speaker series event.  But then, most of us never attended Northwestern University.

After an initial discussion at Ryan Family Auditorium, the students were told that a couple were going to demonstrate the use of a sex toy and female orgasm.

“Both professor Bailey and myself gave them five or six warnings about what was about to happen and it would be graphic,” Melvoin-Berg said.

J. Michael Bailey, of course, is no stranger to controversy.  When he wrote “The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism,” Bailey came under fire for conflating transsexuals with transvestites in order to popularize the theory of autogynephilia, for allegedly using discussions with people who never consented to being interviewed, and allegedly having sex with one of his research subjects.  He also famously co-wrote a paper speculating about using eugenics to eradicate homosexuality.

The speaker series for Prof. Bailey’s Psychology 337: Human Sexuality this year includes voluntary classes (not required for grades) about bondage, swinging, exhibitionism and other fetishes. For Valentine’s Day, he invited two convicted sex offenders to speak about rape and molestation.  On the evening in question, his guest was a fellow who according to The Chicago Sun-Times “runs the ‘Weird Chicago Red Light District Sex Tour,’ which has participants playing games like ‘spot the ho’ as they travel the city looking for prostitutes.” As the evening wore on, the discussion turned into a debate about female orgasm, when someone made a spur-of-the-moment query, and out came the “f— saw,” a reciprocating saw rigged to take a dildo.

“We were watching a video on sexual arousal … ,” [Northwestern senior Justin] Smith said. “The main guy, Ken, said, ‘Are you ready for the live sex show?’ We were like, ‘OK.'”

Now, I have to admit being conflicted on this one. I’m a fairly sex positive person myself, and believe that there should be greater awareness about things like female orgasm and how to achieve it.  However, I have to wonder just how much of this event was treated with a sideshow atmosphere, given Bailey’s complaint that past speakers “had not been very interesting” and “had merely given powerpoint presentations?” I also wonder how many people in attendance really consented to witnessing something that hadn’t been advertised, as opposed to going along for a myriad of other reasons — such as peer pressure or the apathy typified by a sentiment of “well, I’m here already.”  One junior described the demo as a “little more explicit than expected.”

I guess I’m a prude, after all.

Full disclosure: I also have to admit a bias.  Bailey has in the past demonstrated stunning arrogance in interviews, and as a self-proclaimed “expert” on transsexualism, claims to know better than I do who I am and what that means, even though his conclusion in no way matches reality.  When someone thinks I should be their trained circus freak, it’s more than a little button-pushing.

All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.

Regardless of what anyone thinks, though, Fox News has the story, now.  For someone with an already chequered record, will this finally be The Controversy…?

  1. The title of your post will draw night time traffic from Google searches for years to come.

    • dentedbluemercedes
    • March 4th, 2011

    More response to the story, from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-03-03/news/ct-met-northwestern-sex-toy-demonstra20110303_1_academic-freedom-demonstration-bailey:

    “Deirdre McCloskey, a UIC professor who has criticized Bailey in the past, said he aims for shock over substance. “He is prepared to use people in any way to show how cool he is,” said McCloskey, a transsexual who criticized Bailey’s 2003 book, “The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism.” Bailey’s class syllabus lists the book as required reading.”

    • Natalie Murray
    • March 5th, 2011

    One thing in all this that I’d like to know…what asshat at the university gave him the approval to do this? Presumably, our hero would have had to book the hall and advertize the event, and word of something like this would have spread fairly quickly. Did the administration people at Northwestern have any clue as to what he had planned? Bailey shouldn’t be the only one to hang here. This whole thing is completely unprofessional on so many levels.

      • dentedbluemercedes
      • March 5th, 2011

      No one authroized him to have the demonstration. The after-class event is part of a series that had been authorized and was relevant, albeit something he exploited. But the demo was a spur-of-the-moment thing.

    • dentedbluemercedes
    • March 5th, 2011

    A further update: Northwestern University announced they’d be launching an investigation, and an independent researcher in Oregon (?) said she would be filing a complaint with the American Psychological Association — if an investigation from the APA takes place, NU could stand to lose its accreditation.

  2. karma is a rhymes with itch isn’t it?

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