Archive for March 4th, 2011

Last week 120 Northwestern students attended psychology professor John Michael Bailey’s optional after-class demonstration at Ryan Family Auditorium featuring a naked woman being sexually stimulated to orgasm by a “fucksaw,” i.e. a dildo attached to a reciprocating saw.

“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but watching naked people on stage doing pleasurable things will never hurt you.”—John Michael Bailey

When news of the explicit after-class event first broke, university administrators, faculty, and students supported and defended the professor’s decision to hold the demonstration:

“Northwestern University faculty members engage in teaching and research on a wide variety of topics, some of them controversial and at the leading edge of their respective disciplines. The university supports the efforts of its faculty to further the advancement of knowledge.”—Al Cubbage, University spokesman

“[The demonstration] falls within the broad range of academic freedoms—whether one approves or disapproves,”—Burgwell Howard, Dean of Students

“As a sexuality educator, I do think that demonstrations of specific arousal techniques—those definitely have educational value.”—Laura Anne Stuart, sexual health education and violence prevention coordinator (SHAPE) at University Health Services

“Personally, I probably wouldn’t want to witness that, but a student can take or not take the course. It’s their choice.”—Christine Woo, student and member of Christians on Campus

But now that word of the live sex toy demonstration has spread to the Higher Chronicle of Education and Inside Higher Ed websites and throughout cyberspace, the university’s tone has changed.

University President Morton Schapiro said that he and many others who make up the Northwestern community were “disturbed by what took place,” and he has launched an investigation:

“I feel it represented extremely poor judgment on the part of our faculty member. I simply do not believe this was appropriate, necessary or in keeping with Northwestern University’s academic mission. … I have directed that we investigate fully the specifics of this incident, and also clarify what constitutes appropriate pedagogy, both in this instance and in the future.”

But Professor Bailey remains unrepentant:

“I think that these after-class events are quite valuable. … the students find the events to be quite valuable …[and have] demonstrated that they are open-minded grownups rather than fragile children … [I]n my lecture I had talked about the attempts to silence sex research, and how this largely reflected sex negativity … I did not wish, and I do not wish, to surrender to sex negativity and fear.”

According to clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist Dr. Judy Kuriansky, Bailey has a reputation for “pushing for the envelope.”

“I don’t think it was appropriate. … This goes for … the shock value more than the educational value.”

Northwestern senior Nick Wilson disagrees. He said the professor’s after-class sex show was educational and beneficial in promoting a “sex-positive environment.”

“[I]t provided people with ‘kinky’ sexual interests with information about how to investigate their interests in a safe and respectful way. … [T]he demonstration [showed] that everybody is entitled to their own sexual desires. These desires do not have to be those of anyone else and as long as they involve only consenting adults, they are acceptable.”

Bailey’s Human Sexuality course has 567 students, which is one of the university’s largest classes. The controversial “Networking for kinky people” is only one of Bailey’s after-class presentations sponsored by the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. His popular after-class events have also included a panel of convicted sex offenders and a question-and-answer session with swingers.

Ken Melvoin-Berg, who operated the saw for the controversial demonstration, is a guest lecturer for Bailey’s after-class presentations. The university has paid the sex tour guide and co-owner of Weird Chicago Tours hundreds of dollars for lecturing on bondage, swinging, and other sexual fetishes.

The FBI are dancing with the junkies

All the straights, are swinging with the funkies

Across the floor and up the wall

We’re freakin at the freakers ball

Yall, we’re freakin at the freakers ball

I.M. Kane

For more on this story, see Class sex toy demonstration causes controversy, Northwestern University Professor Defends Explicit Sex Toy Demonstration After Class, and NU president ‘troubled’ by sex toy demonstration on campus.

For more information about Bailey and his Human Sexuality course, go to his faculty page and personal webpage.

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