A Northwestern University professor is under fire for reportedly holding an optional live-sex presentation on campus.
On Feb. 21, Psychology Prof. John Michael Bailey invited his “human sexuality” students to observe a non-student naked woman experiment with motorized sex toys on stage. According to the local NBC affiliate, about 120 students attended the demonstration. The questionable show was curated by Chicago “sex tour guide” Ken Melvoin-Berg.
“Talking about [sex] doesn’t always lend itself to this sort of thing,” Melvoin-Berg said. “We’re not just talking about it. We’re actually doing it.”
The University has reportedly declined to comment on the incident, but one student said the sex toy demonstration was billed as a question-and-answer session about sexual fetishes.
“Then, just out of nowhere, the girl just takes her pants off, takes her shirt off, takes her underwear off,” the stunned student said, adding that a number of people felt uncomfortable and promptly left. “As long as there’s been proper warning, the people that stay shouldn’t feel offended,” he said. “They‘re choosing to see what they’re seeing.”
But why is such an activity a) taking place on campus, and b) being promoted by a member of the school’s faculty?
Bailey’s controversial class attracted 622 Northwestern students this semester alone. After-class panels such as the one last Monday are offered as “educational addendums” to the class. This semester’s optional seminars have so far included: a panel of gay men discussing their sex lives; a transsexual performer; two convicted sex offenders; a swinging couple; a plastic surgeon; and a panel on “networking for kinky people.”
During a lecture last week, Bailey addressed the mounting controversy surrounding the latest seminar. “I think that these after-class events are quite valuable. Why? One reason is that I think it helps us understand sexual diversity,” he said, according to an audio file obtained by the school newspaper.
“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but watching naked people on stage doing pleasurable things will never hurt you,” he said to loud applause at the end of his speech.
In a statement, Bailey defended the extra-curricular seminars, refusing to surrender to “sex negativity and fear.“ Student feedback was ”uniformly positive,“ insisting Northwestern students are ”open-minded grown ups rather than fragile children.”
“To the extent that this event provokes a discussion of my reasoning above, I welcome it,” Bailey concluded Wednesday. “I expect many people to disagree with me. Thoughtful discussion of controversial topics is a cornerstone of learning.”