"Sticks and stones may break your bones, but watching naked people on stage doing pleasurable things will never hurt you," Northwestern University Professor Michael Bailey told his students at the end of a live demonstration of female orgasm. According to the school's campus newspaper, The Daily Northwestern, the message was recieved with "loud applause." Since then, however, Bailey has been defending his decision to allow a woman--a non-student--to remove her clothes and have her boyfriend penetrate her with a sex toy in front of a group of shocked and curious human sexuality students.
The demonstration, starring Faith Kroll and her boyfriend Jim Marcus, took place after class in what started out as a panel discussion with "members of Chicago's fetish community describing 'BDSM,' or bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism," the Chicago Sun-Times reports. But the showing of an apparently lame video about female orgasm prompted the guest speakers to give the class a real-life demonstration. According to the Sun-Times, Bailey released a statement explaining why he rejected his initial hesitation to let the show go on. "'My hesitation concerned the likelihood that many people would find this inappropriate,' he wrote. 'My decision to say ‘yes’ reflected my inability to come up with a legitimate reason why students should not be able to watch such a demonstration.'”
Though the university and several students present during the after-class special have come to Bailey's defense, bloggers today are unleashing their own reactions to the unconventional lesson. Michelle Malkin, for one, suggests that with Northwestern's tuition at about $50,000 a year, "I bet a few of the parents of these students wouldn’t mind taking a paddle to the clowns running this university-turned-S&M theater." And while Outside the Beltway's James Joyner acknowledges that "these students are adults and attendence at the 'demonstration' were non-compulsory," he admits that "I can't for the life of me figure out what the intellectual value of this exercise was supposed to be. I'm also afraid to ask what the homework assignments are like." But Aaron Worthing at Patterico's Pontifications comes to the conclusion that "if there is informed consent before this happens and none of the University's money is going to this, I don't think I would care even if I had a child enrolled in that school." But, he clarifies, "if I was in the University's management, I would be extremely dubious about the academic value of this and extremely worried about hostile environment suits. I have seen suits over classical art depicting naked women; a live sex show would seem to be a clear invitation for a Title IX suit."
Whether Bailey and his group of guest speakers-turned sex demonstrators will be back at the Chicago university next semester remains to be seen. But, as The Daily Beast's Jessica Bennett accurately predicts, this is "a story that will undoubtedly become fable for subsequent classes of incoming freshman."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.