Northwestern University in the United States is the centre of a bizarre row surrounding one of its lectures.
Professor Michael Bailey recently gave a lecture on female arousal and female physiology. All of which is fine in itself, and would have been if Professor Bailey had not taken on the suggestion of a colleague, Ken Melvoin-Berg, that a demonstration of female sex toys should form part of the lecture. Just to clarify here this is not the sort of demonstration where the lecturer holds up a dildo and says “this is one sort of sex toy that some women enjoy”. In this case the toy was demonstrated for real.
Faith Kroll a self confessed exhibitionist demonstrated the use of a sex toy in front of the students saying afterwards that she was “More than happy to [demonstrate the toy]” and that she enjoyed the attention.
Unsurprisingly the University’s President Morton Schapiro has said he will be investigating the “incident”, saying he finds it “disturbing”.
So do we.
We love sex toys, we love people who enjoy sex toys and would encourage their use by adults alone and as couples in all sorts of situations. A lecture theatre isn’t one of them, and not for the reasons you might first assume.
We are not shocked by the thought of students watching a woman masturbate in front of them. Female arousal is a natural phenomenon and a very enjoyable one at that. It’s like respiration or the beating of your heart or the working of the endocrine system in your body. All Natural, all good and all necessary. Nobody would object to a volunteer being used in a medical lecture theatre if it better explained a particular physiological process. However that’s probably what the university president objects to, or at least the board to which he reports.
What makes us think that the decision to include the demonstration was ill-advised is that Melvoin-Berg and Professor Bailey should have known the reaction it would get outside the lecture hall. The world is not ready for this sort of unashamed sexual openness. Maybe it should be but in reality there are any number of groups who will pounce on this sort of incident because it offends their sensibilities.
Whether it’s salacious newspaper headlines, right wing parents groups or religious denominations all will see this incident as supporting their particular agenda, which will usually mean restricting the freedom to discuss and learn about sexuality and the way in which the body and mind interact when sexually aroused.
Take the reactions of the parent at the beginning of this video.
Her take on the lecture was that it was “an orgy”. It so obviously wasn’t but her comments alone show how naïve or just plain stupid the organisers of the lecture were. For that reason we have to agree with President Shapiro that Professor Bailey exhibited “extremely poor judgment”.
It transpires that Professor Bailey seems to court controversy. In 2003 he was criticised for using the stories of several transsexual women in a book he wrote without their permission. Published under the title “The Man who Would be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism.” Now add to that the sex toy being used wasn’t your common garden variety rabbit or dildo but a dong bolted to the end of a reciprocating saw – the sort designed for a totally different type of DIY – and you begin to wonder what the hell is going on at Northwestern University!
Maybe The Professor has another book on the way?