A Northwestern professor caused a ruckus when he hosted a demonstration of a woman getting off with a "fucksaw" in front of the class. His response? "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but watching naked people on stage doing pleasurable things will never hurt you."
The demonstration was an optional presentation following a class on sexual arousal in psychology Professor J. Michael Bailey's human-sexuality course. Bailey, something of a firebrand who has published controversial ideas on the nature of transgender and left his post as department head under a cloud in 2004, is known for unconventional methods. But, says the Daily Beast,
this particular lecture was, shall we say, different. Led by a man whose website describes him as a "psychic detective and ghost hunter," it was called "Networking for Kinky People," and began with a towel placed neatly on the auditorium stage. Next, a woman took her clothes off, and-with an audience of around 100-lay down on her back, legs spread. As students moved forward from the theater's back seats, for a closer view, "The girl grabbed the mic," says Sean Lavery, a Northwestern freshman. "She explained that she had a fetish for being watched by large crowds while having an orgasm." No, the girl involved was not a student. Yes, she was over 21, we're told-and the guy stimulating her was introduced as her boyfriend. "It was a committed couple who did the demonstration, and it happened at the end of the class," says Ken Melvoin-Berg, the guest speaker, who helps operate a tour company called Weird Chicago that offers sex tours. We'll spare you the gory details-but let's just say they involved the woman's boyfriend bringing her to climax on stage, using a contraption called a "fucksaw," and plenty of gasps, not just from flabbergasted students. "I was gauging everyone's reaction," says Lavery, who's been in Bailey's class since January. "I think everyone was just like, ‘Is she really doing this right now?'"
Despite some outcry, Northwestern's standing by their man, stating that "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." As to Bailey, he issued a lengthy statement in which he declared that
On the afternoon of February 21st Ken MB and colleagues arrived while I was finishing my lecture, on sexual arousal. I was talking about the female g-‐spot and the phenomenon of female ejaculation, both of which are scientifically controversial. I finished the lecture and invited the guests onstage. On the way, Ken asked me whether it would be ok if one of the women with him demonstrated female ejaculation using equipment they had brought with them. I hesitated only briefly before saying "yes." My hesitation concerned the likelihood that many people would find this inappropriate. 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. After all, those still there had stayed for an optional demonstration/lecture about kinky sex and were told explicitly what they were about to see. The demonstration, which included a woman who enjoyed public sexual interaction with a machine, surely counts as kinky, and hence as relevant. Furthermore, earlier that day in my lecture I had talked about the attempts to silence sex research, and how this largely reflected sex negativity. I have had previous experiences with these silencing attempts myself. I did not wish, and I do not wish, to surrender to sex negativity and fear.
Meh. The demonstration was optional; it wasn't on the university's dime; we doubt anyone in the class in the first place would be outraged. Our bigger question was put by a woman in the class. Says this Freshman, "I was like, 'OK, she orgasmed on stage'...What're we supposed to take away from that?"