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March 2, 2011 12:38 PM   Subscribe

In strange reversal of conventional wisdom, four fifths of enrolled undergrads skip out on optional Fucksaw presentation.

One can only hope that Professor Bailey shared the history and interactive potential of sex machine design with students, rather than simply providing a marketing avenue for the $169 Fucksaw.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur (240 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Eponysterical.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:40 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Fucksaw has to be one of the worst possible names you can give to a sex toy.
posted by kmz at 12:40 PM on March 2, 2011 [18 favorites]


C'mon, everyone knows it's called a Fuckzall.
posted by mollymayhem at 12:42 PM on March 2, 2011 [56 favorites]


For the infomercial they should get the Little Giant guy.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:43 PM on March 2, 2011


The dreaded FuckSaw is the favorite weapon of the Dickwolves.
posted by dr_dank at 12:43 PM on March 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


Chicago sex tour guide Ken Melvoin-Berg, who operated the device,

Also a psychic detective, ghost hunter, out-of-body adventurer, Japanese rope bondage expert, zombie pub crawler. Quite the Renaissance man.
posted by theodolite at 12:43 PM on March 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


Look, sometimes I read the adult learning center catalogue during lunch. Don't judge me.
posted by theodolite at 12:44 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


That 80' lead is sure gonna be handy.

what

(I'm just imagining my neighbour coming over to borrow my Sawzall to take out a partition wall and as I had over the box with the saw and blades, I pull that out and say sheepishly "sorry".)
posted by unSane at 12:44 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, if I had a vag I highly doubt I'd let anything with the word "saw" in the name anywhere near it. Mind you, at least I now have a name for my Revolting Cocks tribute band.
posted by arto at 12:45 PM on March 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Reciprocating Cocks?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 12:46 PM on March 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


That's a strange way to keep the saw blades protected when not in use.

Oh.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:46 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fucksaw has to be one of the worst possible names you can give to a sex toy.

I can think of worse.

The Deadener
Mom's Apple Pie
This Will Kill You Painfully
The Icy Hand Of Jeane Kirkpatrick
Steve!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:47 PM on March 2, 2011 [81 favorites]


Well, I thought it was a really good idea when my undergraduate institution had some kind of Sexuality Week. Then again, although we did 'safer S&M', it wasn't anything involving fluids or disrobing.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 12:47 PM on March 2, 2011


I read the article but couldn't bring myself to click on the rest of the links. I'll try to screw up my courage and tab through them when nobody is looking.


...weird article though. All I got in university was some boring powerpoint presentations, and those were all very G rated. Lastly, why hasn't this been linked yet.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:53 PM on March 2, 2011


Fucksaw has to be one of the worst possible names you can give to a sex toy.

I can think of worse.


Fun game!

The Widowmaker
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Ben-Wa Balls
The Dildon't
Grandma's Feather Bed
Five For Fisting
posted by jbickers at 12:53 PM on March 2, 2011 [39 favorites]


Meh.

Back in '75, my dorm actually had an "educational event" featuring wine and cheese and silent super-8 films featuring pasties, a large dog, a young-looking girl and a very close shave, among other things.

It was indeed educational... never saw so many wide eyes in my life. Especially memorable was the comment of our relentlessly chipper RA, "you are what you eat!"

Good times. Bonus: I think this event also provided free birth control to quite a few freshmen women.
posted by kinnakeet at 12:53 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Steve!

STEVE HOLT!
posted by en forme de poire at 12:54 PM on March 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


BitterOldPunk: "The Deadener
Mom's Apple Pie
This Will Kill You Painfully
The Icy Hand Of Jeane Kirkpatrick
Steve!
"

*opens "possible sockpuppets" doc*
posted by brundlefly at 12:57 PM on March 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


Five For Fisting

That'd be a three game suspension and league investigation at least. Possibly more if they didn't drop the gloves beforehand.
posted by Grimgrin at 12:57 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would consider buying a sex toy named the Steve Holt! (exclamation point included)... just sayin'.

I would not buy one called Tobias [the half-analyst, half-therapist].


On a more serious note, the class's Professor Bailey previously on Metafilter.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:58 PM on March 2, 2011


Shattercock
Dad
The Necroctic Festoid
posted by shakespeherian at 12:59 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sounds like absolutely no controversy happened as a result. Hurrah.

Kind of makes me wish I went to NU, though.
posted by LSK at 12:59 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also Bailey here previously as well (this is the one I was looking for)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:01 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, realize this a bit off topic, but "The Worst Names For A Sex Toy" can't be left unexplored!

The Fridge
The Cocksaw
The "I Can't Believe It's Not Human!"
Dolly, the Sheep
The "It'll Only Hurt For A Second"
posted by TDavis at 1:01 PM on March 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Hold everything. 480 students *didn't* show up to the event? Youth of today, I am disappoint.
posted by Kattullus at 1:02 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ron Popeil's Pocket Pal
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:02 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


The last line in the article:

"Everybody's blowing it out of proportion," Wilson said. "It's one small thing. It's an intense thing, but it's a small thing."
posted by clockzero at 1:03 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also:

Captain Rupture
Tissue Solvent.
The Perforator
Unmerciful Crushing Force
Automatic Dentata
posted by Grimgrin at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


comment from Sammy:

Having a man yell "whore" and "slut" at woman while she's held down and drilled onstage is educational insofar that it gets explained. The woman explained that she liked being used and screwed in front of a large group of people.

Ok, fine. But why? Why does she have the fetishes that she does? What has developed psychologically for her to enjoy that? It never went explained. They lamented the lack of female ejaculate and moved on.

This highlights the main problem I have with Bailey's class. He uses shocking images to get a reaction out of students, but often follows them up with a "this is bizarre!" or an "I really can't explain it!" Anyone with a dirty mind and an internet connection can use google to verify that these things exist. What I was looking for when signing up for the class was some explanation. And I'm not sure I ever got that.

For what it's worth, I watched from a few rows back. It wasn't so much traumatizing as it was unnecessary and uncomfortable. They did give fair warning though.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2011 [25 favorites]


C'mon, everyone knows it's called a Fuckzall.

Yeahbut, holy shit, it really is a dong attached to a sawzall.

I can think of worse.

There's the classic The Anal Intruder.

Other worse possibilities:

Grandma's Candy Jar
Chester Q. Fuckhelper's Orgasmicoral Thrustator -- You Know, For Kids!
Bag O' Glass
It Don't Matter When It's Arcturian
I Can't Believe It's Not Cthulhu!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


"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.

Testify! Preach it brother! Lemme hear an AAAAAAAAA-men!
posted by Splunge at 1:05 PM on March 2, 2011


Guess I should read post titles before commenting.
posted by clockzero at 1:06 PM on March 2, 2011


Five For Fisting

You can't beat a good Enid Blyton...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:06 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Surely it's called...the Hole Hawg?
posted by everichon at 1:06 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kegel Keg
posted by box at 1:07 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Micropenis
posted by box at 1:08 PM on March 2, 2011


Semi-Hard
posted by box at 1:09 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]




The Potate
posted by The Potate at 1:10 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've watched a lot of RedTube in my life, does this mean I can get Recognition Of Prior Learning if I enroll in uni?
posted by tumid dahlia at 1:14 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I hate to break it to you, but the "conventional wisdom" of sexual matters is curated mainly by lonely horny people.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:15 PM on March 2, 2011


Man, using that thing must take some Skil.
posted by prinado at 1:16 PM on March 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm interested to figure out what exactly the sexual demonstration that's broadly applicable to human sexuality it. And this is speaking as an attendee of orgies and the like. I mean "This particular woman enjoys this kind of stimulation..."

It sounds like he wanted to shock and titillate his audience. I'm sure it's a sexual freedom argument, however practically speaking this sounds like the actual learning value is eclipsed by the prof having a twig for spectacle.

And if he's saying "no big deal!" he's kinda missing a big part of human sexuality is making a big deal out of stuff that gets its potency from context. From nudity to tactile sensations and beyond, it's the same nerve endings you use to interact with much of the other parts of your daily life, feeling, seeing and keeping your bowel functions under control.
posted by Phalene at 1:17 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Personally, I probably wouldn't want to witness that, but a student can take or not take the course," said Christine Woo, a member of NU's Christians on Campus chapter. "It's their choice."
There is hope for the future.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 1:18 PM on March 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


Uncle Wiggly
The Pork-U-Pine
Umbrellanator
Blunt Force Trauma
Aquadong
posted by MrVisible at 1:18 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


On first blush, and based on my awareness of Bailey -- which first happened due to Metafilter but also happened because one of my friends used to date a professor at Northwestern and because Bailey isn't popular in a lot of segments on the gay community locally (see his previous work) - though I don't know him or anything, I certainly have some opinions about him -- I really have to agree with the commenter on the NU paper's website who said Bailey teaches this class this way because he's constantly viewing his students as subjects for his own "experiments" on human sexuality.

I'll leave it up to you to guess my opinion on this.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:22 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Momma's Boy
The Flaccinator
Mr. Prolapse
Soft and Yeasty
Pleasure Warts
The Epesiotomy Eel
Oral Pinworm
posted by benzenedream at 1:24 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Fistulator
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:26 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


80-Grit
The Incontinatrix
Bent Favre
posted by hydrophonic at 1:29 PM on March 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Earthworm Jim
posted by shakespeherian at 1:30 PM on March 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


The Husband
posted by maxwelton at 1:30 PM on March 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


This makes me want to create a fake Home Depot Twitter account, and start posting updates like:

"Sorry folks, we don't carry the Fucksaw, but you might be interested in our fine line of shower massagers!"

"While our Home Depot Pro Desk is normally "Ready to Help You Get the Job Done", we are afraid we can't help with Fucksaw projects."

"No, Advance Order Pulling and our Volume Pricing Program are not euphemisms for any off-menu services."

...
posted by formless at 1:31 PM on March 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


If you ever wonder what conservatives mean when they talk about the ills of an elite education, remember this story.

There's a place for human sexuality courses (heck, I took one). And there's a place for demonstrating the proper use of a Fucksaw. They are not the same.

And if you disagree ... just keep in mind that you're defending someone demonstrating the proper use of a Fucksaw. Not describing it. Not talking about it. Not comparing, contrasting and exploring its place in the awesome panoply of human sexuality. Nope.

A professor is bringing in a girl, hammering her with a Fucksaw, and the school's sexual health education and violence prevention coordinator says it "definitely (has) educational value."

Don't be surprised when people push back from the table in disgust.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:32 PM on March 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


All I see in my mind is George Clooney in Burn After Reading.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:34 PM on March 2, 2011 [15 favorites]


I just became a little bit more Republican.
posted by General Tonic at 1:35 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


The [more inside] was a bit gratuitous.
posted by srboisvert at 1:35 PM on March 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Two Mules for Sister Sarah
posted by mosk at 1:35 PM on March 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Remember that traumatic, yet strangely erotic moment in your seventh grade biology class when the teacher made the frog's dead leg twitch with electricity? Now presenting ...

C.T.H.U.G.A.S.M., Cattle Tongue, Humid, Undulating Galvanically-Activated Stimulating Mechanism (now with the new Slobber Reservoir — because nobody likes it when the party runs dry)

Sasha Grey reviews: "It's like an orally-fixated version of Legend of the Overfiend in my pants!"

Keep cool when not in use. Next day shipping of replacement tongue Party Pack available. Product does not come with lantern batteries, but you will. Slobber Reservoir Refill Kit may contain used motor oil, canine saliva, and/or the tears of your sainted grandmother.
posted by adipocere at 1:36 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dixon Cider.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 1:39 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


CBP,

I think the same argument could be made for the ills of tenure as well. I think anyone with half a brain totally gets why we need to protect professors from fickle intra-university politics, but does that protection really need to be so strong that a live demonstration of the FuckSaw to undergraduates under the laughable pretense of educational merit does not result in the immediate termination of employment? Is there not a balance?
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:41 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you ever wonder what conservatives mean when they talk about the ills of an elite education, remember this story.

It was optional, no? I think this story demonstrates the greatness of a liberal education: When given the chance to attend an optional but worthless 'seminar', hardly anyone attended.

A professor is bringing in a girl, hammering her with a Fucksaw, and the school's sexual health education and violence prevention coordinator says it "definitely (has) educational value."

First of all, it's pretty clear to me that the professor wasn't "hammering" anyone with a sex toy. It was operated by Chicago sex tour guide Ken Melvoin-Berg. Secondly, saying that the girl was "brought in" removes agency from the woman who volunteered to demonstrate the device. The professor brings in an object like a sex toy. He asks a volunteer to demonstrate. She demonstrates usage of the device.

Bailey may be kind of a scumbag, but that's a matter for the students, the department chair, and the provost.
posted by muddgirl at 1:41 PM on March 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


muddgirl: "She demonstrates usage of the device."

In-person orgasms are more akin to performance than demonstration, I would argue. Also I don't think the use of a male operator is non-trivial. It quashes some hopes I briefly held for the demonstration as one illustrating female orgasm autonomy and its relationship to technology.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:46 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


The Quivering Annelid
posted by leotrotsky at 1:47 PM on March 2, 2011


Call me a fuddy duddy, but I think it's really disappointing that the US' performance on standardized orgasm tests is so much worse than that of other countries.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:53 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


As seen in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:59 PM on March 2, 2011


The Exfoliatron
The Thunderdong
The Emergency Room Visit (now with awkward doctor-patient conversation guide!)
posted by Ghidorah at 1:59 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Calling it a performance is fine. But treating her as a prop just contributes to the problem.
posted by muddgirl at 1:59 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Peri-coital Mom's-voice-on-answering-machine
The sandysicle
Lemony chafenator
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:01 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


So... There really was no actual point?
posted by Artw at 2:02 PM on March 2, 2011


NSFW

This video, while offensive and silly, is too funny not to post here.

It should be noted that many of the opinions expressed in that video do not reflect my own.
posted by poe at 2:03 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is one of those things where my theory/practice mental metronome goes pinging back and forth. In theory, I can imagine an optional live demonstration being a valuable part of a human sexuality class. In practice, what are the odds that this Baily guy isn't creepy as fuck and getting off on this in some way? Theory: We ought not to let taboos close us off to useful knowledge! Practice: So, this was pretty much a chick just getting off with a fucksaw (tm) without any contextual discussion of physiology or sociology, then? What, they couldn't coax the donkey up the stairs?
posted by Diablevert at 2:03 PM on March 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


But treating her as a prop just contributes to the problem.

Agreed, making a person into an object is the root of most evil, once a person is no longer human than anything is possible. I wonder how the good mad professor addresses that, if at all.
posted by stbalbach at 2:04 PM on March 2, 2011


So... There really was no actual point?

More of a bell-end, really.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:05 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Call me a fuddy duddy, but I think it's really disappointing that the US' performance on standardized orgasm tests is so much worse than that of other countries.

Sure, but I think we can agree that this was a case where it was appropriate to leave all the children behind.
posted by nickmark at 2:05 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well where do you think children come from, silly?

(Hint: If your answer is something besides 'Terrifying weaponized dildos,' you are wrong.)
posted by shakespeherian at 2:09 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hold everything. 480 students *didn't* show up to the event? Youth of today, I am disappoint.

Depends. Was this going to be on the test?
posted by mazola at 2:11 PM on March 2, 2011


The Pork-U-Pine
Acme Explosive Dildo - Imagine her surprise!
The Hillside Strangler
Gillette branded 'Jack the Ripper' Fleshlight -- now with THREE blades
posted by unSane at 2:12 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Was this going to be on the test?

It's tough to imagine how the professor could manage that. Tenure or no, 600 Fucksaws would get awful expensive.
posted by nickmark at 2:14 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Came for the fucksaw, stayed for the one liners.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 2:14 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Baton Rouge
The Peter Greeter
The Weiner Dog
The Dog Weiner
The Jesus Christ Can't We Just Do It Missionary Style For Once
posted by Ron Thanagar at 2:15 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Came for the fucksaw

So did she!!
posted by nickmark at 2:17 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


(oh, man, if I were really clever I would have used a link there instead of bold...)
posted by nickmark at 2:19 PM on March 2, 2011


The Sarlacc
Dry-N-Scabby
Shaky The Mohel
posted by Ratio at 2:22 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


First of all, it's pretty clear to me that the professor wasn't "hammering" anyone with a sex toy. It was operated by Chicago sex tour guide Ken Melvoin-Berg.

Oh, then it's a totally different deal. Excuse me. The professor wasn't hammering her with a Fucksaw. He invited someone else to hammer her with a Fucksaw.

Which I'm sure she enjoyed it. Being hammered. With a Fucksaw.

My safe word is "TIMMMMMMBER!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:22 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


What the fuck, Northwestern? When I was there I never once attended a class involving watching someone using a sex toy on stage. It was all calculus this and thermodynamics that. I feel cheated. Cheated!

Also, electrical engineering from Holocaust deniers. Fun for the whole family.
posted by Justinian at 2:24 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


So did she!!

I heard that coming from a mile off.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:24 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tenure or no, 600 Fucksaws would get awful expensive.

One Fucksaw and a tub of anti-bacterial baby wipes.

You're damn right I went there.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:24 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Big McLargeHuge
Gristle McThornBody
posted by mosk at 2:25 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stop trying to derail this thread! This is a serious conversation about FuckSaws!!! Goddamnit.
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:27 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


the laughable pretense of educational merit

Care to explain why it wasn't educational? I've never seen a woman aroused to orgasm by a Fucksaw before. I have to think I would learn something.

In practice, what are the odds that this Baily guy isn't creepy as fuck and getting off on this in some way?

...

Don't be surprised when people push back from the table in disgust.

...

I just became a little bit more Republican.

Well, it was obvious that this thread would expose some anti-sex biases.

This Fucksaw demonstration seems similar to a demonstration (or "performance," sure) by a competitive eater, no?

Which I'm sure she enjoyed it. Being hammered. With a Fucksaw.

I think that actually was the whole point.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:28 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


How is this thing any better than a normal vibrating dildo? I realize that for many, kink is as much about spectacle as it is sensual, but at a certain point when does it become pathological?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:28 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just realized what my issues with this is. (Besides the fact that I think Bailey is the academia version of a quack and that his research is useless at best, dangerous at worst)

If you're using your academic time to see demonstrations of sex toys, what are you doing during your free time? This is what weekends and late nights are for.

(Is there a sexual pervert version of the whole kids/lawn/get off of mine thing -- because I think that's what I just did...."back in my day...")
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:29 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Diablevert: "In practice, what are the odds that this Baily guy isn't creepy as fuck and getting off on this in some way?"

Everyone should be allowed to privately masturbate to everybody without being chastised goddammit!
posted by grammar corrections at 2:31 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]



The Potate
posted by The Potate at 2:10 PM on March 2 [2 favorites +] [!]


I've used The Potate before. A+++ Would use again.


I did marry it, after all
posted by lizjohn at 2:32 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Burhanistan: "How is this thing any better than a normal vibrating dildo? I realize that for many, kink is as much about spectacle as it is sensual..."

You've hit the nail on the head - so to speak. I can't speak for this toy or these videos, but hypothetically speaking, let's say such toys and such videos and instances when one could use them existed for the gay male community. In this hypothetical situation, someone enjoying themselves on one of these things would be all about the showing off and the twisted nature of the event -- the spectacle, not the sensation. Watching somebody do the same thing that you could do with a toy of a less impressive size just isn't the same.

Hypothetically.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:33 PM on March 2, 2011


Fucksaw is ready!
posted by Errant at 2:36 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is not fair, when I attended NU (briefly) I didn't even get to watch myself having sex, let alone other people.
posted by cbecker333 at 2:41 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, it was obvious that this thread would expose some anti-sex biases.

Aw, you're no fun. How can we hope to be titillated if there are no taboos? And conversely, how likely is it that witnessing the violation if a taboo would fail to either titillate, or discomfort? I admit, as stipulated, that there it is certainly possible for one to view such an event as merely informative. I simply question whether it is likely.

I mean, by god, the man has tenure, there were ample warning, and everybody in the room was an adult. So, ultimately, bygones. But not, perhaps, praise.
posted by Diablevert at 2:44 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


No Soft Tater yet, wtf?
posted by iamkimiam at 2:44 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't speak for this toy or these videos, but hypothetically speaking, let's say such toys and such videos and instances when one could use them existed for the gay male community. In this hypothetical situation, someone enjoying themselves on one of these things would be all about the showing off and the twisted nature of the event -- the spectacle, not the sensation. Watching somebody do the same thing that you could do with a toy of a less impressive size just isn't the same.

—More power! Arh-arh-arh.
—I don't think so, Tim.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:45 PM on March 2, 2011


I WILL NOT SKIM METAFILTER THREADS
I WILL NOT SKIM METAFILTER THREADS
I WILL NOT SKIM METAFILTER THREADS

...

Why? Because, when I do, I read things like this:
Back in '75, my dorm actually had an "educational event" featuring wine and cheese and silent super-8 films featuring pasties, a large dog, a young-looking girl and a very close shave, among other things.
as
Back in '75, my mom actually had an "educational event" featuring wine and cheese and silent super-8 films featuring pasties, a large dog, a young-looking girl and a very close shave, among other things.
posted by scrump at 2:47 PM on March 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


Care to explain why it wasn't educational? I've never seen a woman aroused to orgasm by a Fucksaw before. I have to think I would learn something.

Dropping a sofa on your big toe will teach you something, too. Is that worth learning via practical demonstration? Or can I just tell you about it?

At some point, you have to pull the blinders off and point out that yes, the emperor has no clothes. Call a spade a spade, so to speak. This is bullshit three Fucksaws deep.

This Fucksaw demonstration seems similar to a demonstration (or "performance," sure) by a competitive eater, no?

Similarly, the only way I think a competitive eating demonstration would be educational would be at a medical school class teaching what to do when a stomach explodes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:48 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to imagine a scenario where it's safe to put a power tool in any orifice, and it's just not working.

Do they have regulations about this kind of thing?
And am I seriously the only person that has had that Monty Python sketch running through my head this entire time?
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:48 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, ultimately, bygones. But not, perhaps, praise.

Or government grants.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:49 PM on March 2, 2011


OK, I took this guy's class at NU several years ago and the only thing that stuck with me was the startling statistic that something like 80% of my fellow undergrads (and thus potential sexual partners) have HPV. I hope I would have remembered a Fucksaw. Bailey apparently is getting progressively weirder.
posted by AceRock at 2:49 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


In describing the Fucksaw, I'm grappling with trying to find a phrase less clumsy than "the physical manifestation of the Male Gaze."

Which is to say, it seems more like a sex toy that men want to use, than a sex toy that most women would want to have applied to them.
posted by ErikaB at 2:49 PM on March 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Care to explain why it wasn't educational? I've never seen a woman aroused to orgasm by a Fucksaw before. I have to think I would learn something.

Like what? I mean, not that I want to stop you learning about such things, but as other people have observed it would be much more interesting to learn about the psychology or related topics. The educational value in the demonstration of the device seems pretty limited, and could be conveyed almost as effectively with a diagram or a short video clip. If you're so uninformed or unimaginative as to need remedial education on how this device might work/be used, then maybe you ought to rectify that deficiency on your own time.

Publicly funded education isn't there to just give you a cool or weird experience, it's supposed to equip you with actual skills or knowledge of some kind; and since resources for education are limited, a bit more selectivity seems advisable here.

Well, it was obvious that this thread would expose some anti-sex biases.

It doesn't bother me at all that people might enjoy this or wish to demonstrate their enjoyment of it. That's what sex clubs, porn movies, and possibly webcams are for, depending on how much interaction you want. I don't mind it being on display in a college, it just seems like a self-indulgent and time-wasting way to go about it. You wouldn't become an aeronautical engineer just from sitting around looking at passing airplanes, you don't get a drama education just by going to the movies a lot, you don't learn physics by watching a basketball game.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:50 PM on March 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


And I agree with Stagger Lee - this thing has "internal rupture" written all over it.
posted by ErikaB at 2:50 PM on March 2, 2011


I mean, by god, the man has tenure, there were ample warning, and everybody in the room was an adult. So, ultimately, bygones. But not, perhaps, praise.

Yeah. I was a bit mocking in my previous comment but this about sums it up for me. NWU had a powerful commitment to academic freedom and free speech when I was a student and I doubt it has changed much in the last decade. As I alluded to, NWU has long protected the right of a well-known and high profile tenured Holocaust denier to teach classes in electrical engineering. While regularly issuing statements that his beliefs (in a field which does not affect his teaching or research) are deplorable in the extreme.

So I would expect (rightly) that nothing will or should come of this. It's a University. Shit happens.
posted by Justinian at 2:51 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Mechanical Pencil
The Hare
The Sharper Image Personal Messager
Breakup Buddy
The Charley Horse Whisperer
Clown Arm
posted by iamkimiam at 2:53 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is not fair, when I attended NU (briefly) I didn't even get to watch myself having sex, let alone other people.

If it makes you feel any better, at the university on the other side of town, no one can watch anyone having any sex ever.
posted by Copronymus at 2:54 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Publicly funded education isn't there to just give you a cool or weird experience

Publicly funded? Northwestern? Christ, I think it's like $40,000 a year in tuition alone at this point. Close to $50,000 all up. NWU is the only private university left in the big 10.
posted by Justinian at 2:54 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


sorry if I missed something, but maybe the point was to see a woman ejaculate when she orgasms? Because those power things tend to stimulate the g-spot and then there she blows.
posted by angrycat at 2:56 PM on March 2, 2011


Bigby's Clenched Fist
posted by vibrotronica at 3:00 PM on March 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


And you thought it was bad when Skynet just wanted to kill humans...

CHAIN-fuck -licksaw. Ah, those crazy robo-pornsters at Fucking Machines dot Com: what will they think of next?

WAIT!

DO! NOT! ANSWER! THAT!
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:00 PM on March 2, 2011


NWU is the only private university left in the big 10.

It's private, of course, but there's different flavors of private. Every university takes government money in one way or another. If it's not outright funding of programs, it's tax advantages. Or it's other types of funding that are not obvious. Example: NWU plays in the Big 10, as you mention. Some Big 10 schools are public institutions themselves (hello, University of Illinois), and some Big 10 schools have publicly funded stadiums. NWU enjoys its Big 10 status by the grace of the public directly funding some of those big institutions. If NWU played only against private institutions, it wouldn't be much of a football season.

I'd mention scholarships, but that's the students' choice.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:13 PM on March 2, 2011


Which is to say, it seems more like a sex toy that men want to use, than a sex toy that most women would want to have applied to them.

To quote a relevant passage from Mary Roach’s Bonk:

“The typical scenario, Archibald says, is a married guy ‘who likes building things.’ He comes across someone else’s sex machine, is fascinated, decides to build one himself. ‘He presents it to his wife, who goes, ‘”Wha?’” and then he sells it on Ebay.’”
posted by Diablevert at 3:14 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Hindenbrator (Oh-Oh-OOOOh the humanity!)
Fibergl-ass
Sasha Grey's Real-Life Morning-After Awkward Conversation Simulator
The Passive-Aggressive Violator ("you'll never understand why it feels so good!")
The Fumblesaw
The White Mambo
The Nude Gingrich
3-Pack Edible Clownsuits
Rejectionlight
Kentucky Jelly
Amish Nipple Clamps
Charles G. and David H. Koch Rings
posted by PlusDistance at 3:15 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dixie Normous
posted by porn in the woods at 3:19 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah sorry, I meant publicly funded education of the student (eg federally subsidized loans and the like). I have no opinion whatsoever about the college itself, but few institutions would be able to charge such steep tuition if there were a cap on the size of student loans. As CPB said upthread, this is the kind of thing conservatives cite when they want to bash 'ivory tower academics' as a prelude to cutting funding for educational programs in general. I'm not offended by the sexuality aspect at all, but the presentation seems about as education as a PT Barnum-style carnival.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:23 PM on March 2, 2011


The Reader, I Married It!
Gashlight
Pump'n'thump
Cuntucky Derby Winner, Three Years Running
posted by Sebmojo at 3:25 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


NWU enjoys its Big 10 status by the grace of the public directly funding some of those big institutions. If NWU played only against private institutions, it wouldn't be much of a football season.

That may be true but I'm not sure how relevant it is. That other Big 10 schools are public doesn't mean NWU is public any more than the fact that I benefit from public freeways means that my driveway is public.
posted by Justinian at 3:25 PM on March 2, 2011


Ah sorry, I meant publicly funded education of the student (eg federally subsidized loans and the like).

Ah. You may be right. But speaking for myself, I hope professors continue to completely ignore the point you raise. That students receive student loans should have no bearing on the content of the education they receive.
posted by Justinian at 3:27 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actual dildo: The Punisher.
posted by stonepharisee at 3:31 PM on March 2, 2011


That may be true but I'm not sure how relevant it is.

Well, the relevance is that NWU can claim "private" when it absolves them of any responsibility to serving the public good, but still benefit from public money in several different ways.

It's like saying your restaurant is a private institution, so you should be allowed to skirt public health laws. But besides being a good idea so you don't kill people with botulism-ridden food, those public health laws create an atmosphere where people are not afraid to visit restaurants, which helps business in general. So yeah, you're private. But play nice.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:45 PM on March 2, 2011


Points:

1. Reciprocating power dildos are a big theme in online S&M porn. Insex, House of Gord, and the aptly named fuckingmachines.com have built a wide enough variety of them that the sawzall based version seems a bit lazy.

2. It's not universal, but is very common, for submissive persons of both genders to be excited by feelings of being used, humiliated, overwhelmed, manipulated, overpowered, and otherwise mistreated. Sexual fetishes do not trend toward political correctness. The fucksaw may look dramatic but an ordinary whip is a lot more intense.

3. A power dildo isn't a vibrator. Vibrators vibrate, which creates powerful stimulation of the most sensitive parts. Power dildos fuck, which is not as direct a route to orgasm, but they don't get tired and they can keep up a pace a human male can't, which can make it possible to reach orgasm without that direct stimulation, over a longer period of time, and with the possibly advantageous feeling of being violently penetrated. Typically, if it takes longer to achieve orgasm, the orgasm is more powerful, which is an attraction.

4. By total coincidence Netflix just delivered a copy of Sick, the Bob Flanagan documentary. I bet he totally regrets dying before the invention of the fucksaw.
posted by localroger at 3:45 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


The Queen of Blades
Hemorrhage
The Bloater
The Bulimic's Assistant
Hitler
posted by indubitable at 3:47 PM on March 2, 2011


localroger, I'd take your critiques of sex gear construction and terminology more seriously if you hadn't just copped to taking 13 years to see Sick.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:53 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


>Care to explain why it wasn't educational? ...

Like what? I mean, not that I want to stop you learning about such things, but as other people have observed it would be much more interesting to learn about the psychology or related topics. The educational value in the demonstration of the device seems pretty limited, and could be conveyed almost as effectively with a diagram or a short video clip. ...

Publicly funded education isn't there to just give you a cool or weird experience, it's supposed to equip you with actual skills or knowledge of some kind; and since resources for education are limited, a bit more selectivity seems advisable here.

>Well, it was obvious that this thread would expose some anti-sex biases.

It doesn't bother me at all that people might enjoy this or wish to demonstrate their enjoyment of it. That's what sex clubs, porn movies, and possibly webcams are for, depending on how much interaction you want. I don't mind it being on display in a college, it just seems like a self-indulgent and time-wasting way to go about it. You wouldn't become an aeronautical engineer just from sitting around looking at passing airplanes, you don't get a drama education just by going to the movies a lot, you don't learn physics by watching a basketball game.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:50 PM on March 2


And yet how good do you think an aeronautical engineer who never saw a flying plane, a drama student who never saw a movie, or a physics student who never once saw a bouncing ball would be?

Very much along the same lines, when I was in engineering thermo we had a field trip to a local nuclear power plant. I didn't learn anything new about the Carnot cycle or the phase of water at different temperatures and pressure. By those measures it was probably a waste of the school's time and resources. I saw some big, loud turbines, lots of pipes and pumps, a control room with lots of blinkenlights, and the cooling towers up close and personal. It was a cool and weird experience that deepened my interest in the subject and made concrete some of the ideas I had already been exposed to.

It was a human sexuality course. The students were all adults. They saw people engaged in consensual if unusual sexual acts. Anyone who has a problem with it probably already had a problem at "human sexuality course", and wouldn't have stopped bitching about the evils of an elite education if the Fucksaw demo hadn't happened.

Additionally this demo also included a Q&A session, which means that the students were given an opportunity to ask these people, who they knew from direct experience were honestly into this activity, a lot of the questions that we're batting around in this thread ("Why? Is it about the spectacle? Is it dangerous? Couldn't you come up with a better name than 'fucksaw'?"), which you wouldn't normally be able to ask directly of people, in an educational setting.
posted by Reverend John at 3:57 PM on March 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Dixie Normous

Greatest drag queen name ever!
posted by mollymayhem at 3:58 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, the relevance is that NWU can claim "private" when it absolves them of any responsibility to serving the public good

The greatest public good NWU can serve is that of promoting academic freedom and freedom of thought and expression more generally.
posted by Justinian at 4:03 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Sawzalls I've used (non-sexually) only seem to have about an inch of travel, back and forth.
Surely that isn't enough thrust to deliver satisfaction?
posted by Flashman at 4:04 PM on March 2, 2011


Looking forward to seeing the look on your face when your daughter hands you her first tuition bill while telling you she's thinking of spending a semester "exploring freedom of thought and expression more generally."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:18 PM on March 2, 2011


Care to explain why it wasn't educational? I've never seen a woman aroused to orgasm by a Fucksaw before. I have to think I would learn something.

I think the relevant question here isn't whether it's educational, whether you could learn something, or whether you could learn whatever it is some other way. Even if we assume that it's educational, everyone there learned something and there's no other way to learn it, that still leaves the question of relevance: Is the knowledge learned here academic/relevant to the discipline in which the course situated?

Presumably this is a psychology course? Or what's the discipline here/what disciplines are they drawing on (history? psychology? sociology? biology?). Is this academic knowledge, which is presumably what university classes are meant to teach?

If it's not, then maybe the more appropriate sponsor for the demonstration is some campus/student group devoted to sexual education and awareness and not an academic course, even if it is optional. Perhaps for optional material they could have a presentation on the history of sex toys, showing how they've morphed from medical devices, to things presented as deviant, to common but still somewhat stigmatized and talk about how this reflects changes in our views of sexuality. THey could bring toys to that. Not only is it educational, but it's educational in a way relevant to the course.

I don't see how this demonstration provides any sort of academic education. Perhaps the professor should explain the educational goals of each demonstration on his syllabus, since knowing what you're supposed to learn is generally good for learning.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:20 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


OK, unless i've missed it somewhere upstream, no one has suggested:

the Charlie Sheen

The JonBenet

or The Incredible Mr Limpet
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:24 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ambrosia, Netflix has this nifty feature called "watch it again" where they suggest stuff you've already rated.
posted by localroger at 4:27 PM on March 2, 2011


The JonBenet

Dude, that's um. Several varieties of. Ugh.
posted by angrycat at 4:27 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Further coverage from the Chicago Tribune

Roger, do you mean you didn't buy it after seeing it the first time? Tsk tsk.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:36 PM on March 2, 2011


Dude, that's um. Several varieties of. Ugh.

I thought that was the point of the game. Sparked of by the unpleasantness of the original name 'Fucksaw'.
posted by Catfry at 4:36 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Presumably this is a psychology course?

I believe the course in question is 29544, which is in the psych department.

Also, it appears to meet only on Monday and Wednesdays from 2:00-3:20. Oh my god I was clearly in the wrong major. Two days a week for an hour? Sign me up, coach. They were shoving me in classes that met four times a week at 8:00am and shit, plus monster labs.

I think the relevant question here isn't whether it's educational, whether you could learn something, or whether you could learn whatever it is some other way. Even if we assume that it's educational, everyone there learned something and there's no other way to learn it, that still leaves the question of relevance: Is the knowledge learned here academic/relevant to the discipline in which the course situated?

This strikes me as a shockingly narrow view of academia. The goal shouldn't be to narrow what we learn, but to broaden it.
posted by Justinian at 4:40 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


The JonBenet

And now you've killed the game.
posted by vidur at 4:40 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Justinian, I read that to say the demonstration wasn't appropriate for a course in the psychology department. If the university provides any courses on sex therapy, that would be an entirely different matter.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:51 PM on March 2, 2011


This strikes me as a shockingly narrow view of academia. The goal shouldn't be to narrow what we learn, but to broaden it.

You take a psychology course to learn psychology. This isn't psychology. You want to learn a new hobby, take a course at your community centre. You want to learn how to use sex toys? Take a course at your local sex shop. You want to learn to do yoga? Go to the athletic centre or gym. I'm not suggesting people narrow what they learn, I'm point out that the purpose of the course in the department of psychology is to teach psychology.

Academia does academic knowledge. That's why it's called academia. Other kinds of knowledge are called extra-curricular because they're outside the curriculum. And having these kinds of events as extra-curricular run by some sexuality awareness group instead broadens knowledge because it allows any student who want to to attend, rather than limiting it to those interested in learning about the psychology of human sexuality.

And full disclosure: I took a sexuality course in undergrad and dropped it after a few weeks when I realized I was paying to watch porn, when I'd signed up because I wanted to learn answers to the kinds of questions that Ambrosia Voyeur asks:

Ok, fine. But why? Why does she have the fetishes that she does? What has developed psychologically for her to enjoy that? It never went explained. They lamented the lack of female ejaculate and moved on.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:54 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


the Tree of Woe
Church
the Inhibitor
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark: the Dildo
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 4:55 PM on March 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think that the academic merits of this are highly dubious. I also think that it is probable that viewing a nude female repeated orgasmed by a reciprocating saw and a dildo would potentially induce a significant and lasting psychological response in viewers. I concede that the lasting impacts of exposure to such an event are not well studied. Humans are empathic creatures and our observations of the pleasures, suffering and displays of sexual activity induce a variety of psycholocal impacts. Thus I question the professor's assertions wrt to the experience and his students. It seems little was done to prepare or help the students cope with the emotional impact of the experience or the peer pressures towards participation or refusal to participate. Thus it is concluded that as an academic exercise the ethical foundation is weak and the overall design of the learning activity is poorly designed.
posted by humanfont at 4:55 PM on March 2, 2011


Justinian: "This strikes me as a shockingly narrow view of academia. The goal shouldn't be to narrow what we learn, but to broaden it."

Well, okay, but pedagogy is a pragmatic and contextually-dependent science. The positive effect of this demonstration upon psychological research and practice in the years to come seems dubitable, and then sensationalist besides. I'm not at all certain undergrads can be relied upon to tease adequate educational value out of an experience as spectacular as this one.

Or, what penguin and humanfont said.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:00 PM on March 2, 2011


A commenter on Gawker appears to be reporting live from the class itself (this afternoon)
posted by Flashman at 5:00 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Should have gone all out and brought in Fuckzilla. Which is mostly awesome because it looks like Johnny 5...
posted by wildcrdj at 5:15 PM on March 2, 2011


You take a psychology course to learn psychology. This isn't psychology. You want to learn a new hobby, take a course at your community centre. You want to learn how to use sex toys? Take a course at your local sex shop. You want to learn to do yoga? Go to the athletic centre or gym. I'm not suggesting people narrow what they learn, I'm point out that the purpose of the course in the department of psychology is to teach psychology.

Maybe if you were designing a system of education from the ground up, that would be relevant. But in the actually-existing academy, universities routinely offer classes in things like yoga or "hobby" topics. This distinction that you're drawing between academic and non-academic knowledge isn't a distinction that the actual academy really observes, and I don't see you making a very strong case that it ought to.
posted by enn at 5:18 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


You take a psychology course to learn psychology. This isn't psychology.

It's a course in the psychology department but it's also a huge seminar which meets twice a week for an hour. That tells me it's a very broad in scope survey course. I also note that it is classified as C - other in terms of content, which means it is not about social, personal, or clinical psychology nor about cognitive or neuroscience. I don't think I have access to the syllabus without a ton of hassle but that tells me it's not a true psychology course in the sense you mean it.

AV: I think we're not really disagreeing but rather looking at it from two different angles. Would I have included this demonstration? Naw. Do I think the professor could have chosen a better demo? Absolutely; you yourself have suggested a few topics such as the relationship of female sexual autonomy to technology which could have been developed into interesting and relevant workshops. But I'm looking it as something that already occurred and whether the prof should be sanctioned or the like. And I absolutely don't think he should.

So I'm not saying, hey, I think this was a great and perfectly educationally appropriate demonstration. I'm saying that in the context of academic freedom and education, the prof should be able to do this sort of thing without fear of sanction.
posted by Justinian at 5:21 PM on March 2, 2011


Ah, the comments from the student confirm my strong suspicion. This isn't a psychology course, it's a survey intended to drum up student enthusiasm for more serious subjects in the department and to get students motivated to attend classes.

Which, speaking as a former student there, I could have used. God Organic Chemsitry was boring. Throwing vibrating cock rings to the students sure would have woken me up.
posted by Justinian at 5:23 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just hope Bill O'Reilly and David Horowitz don't get hold of this.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:36 PM on March 2, 2011


Yeah, Justinian, I don't think we disagree. As the poster, I am not suggesting sanction, and my specific interests in this case relate to the spread of sex positivity and the difficult and nuanced work of teaching. Should he be afraid to do this kind of thing for fear of sanction? Yes, if this kind of thing is crappy course prep. If not, not. I am curious to find out more as this story blows up.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:37 PM on March 2, 2011


So, I'm thinking to myself that I can't separate sexuality from ethics and morality, and I realize that's true of nuclear engineering, social work, and a lot of other subjects. Presumably, NU has oversight of human subjects for demonstration, to protect them from abuse. I'd be interested in the learning objective.
posted by theora55 at 5:39 PM on March 2, 2011


As CPB said upthread, this is the kind of thing conservatives cite when they want to bash 'ivory tower academics' as a prelude to cutting funding for educational programs in general.

So academics should pre-emptively censor material to weed out anything that Glenn Beck might be able to use as grist for his mill?

You might as well suggest they just sut up shop now and be replaced with giant screens showing Fox.
posted by rodgerd at 5:41 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


And Rodgerd has wandered into the land of Hyperbolia.

Listen, I wouldn't say this is obscene or anything, but it does seems to be mostly playing to the sensational and not being the best way to communicate academic knowledge. Should he fear that his presentation isn't conservative enough for our modern thought and that censure could come? No, of course not. Might this show him to be a professor that may not be great at constructing curriculum and making academically appropriate material for the course? Perhaps.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:46 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looking forward to seeing the look on your face when your daughter hands you her first tuition bill while telling you she's thinking of spending a semester "exploring freedom of thought and expression more generally."

When did this kind of conversation ever happen in regards to this class? I mean, it's not a required class, the event was optional. It seems there really is no problem with the waste of resources, particularly since it's a private school, so you aren't talking about that point anymore. Is this all you have left to grind your axe on? Daddy doesn't like the thought of his little girl being exposed to sexuality, on his dime!

The whole problem people have is with their distaste with the subject matter or how it was presented. But I think schools would perform poorly if they had to justify every academic decision to the public at large. Not every class is going to be worthwhile, but you can find a lot of business majors who find literature classes useless and vice versa.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:51 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


But in the actually-existing academy, universities routinely offer classes in things like yoga or "hobby" topics.

Agreed, but few of them yield transferable academic credit. It's not so much that this demo is bad as that it's lamentably second rate - although the Q&A afterwards saves it from being a total waste of time.

I feel like this ever-expanding definition of what's 'academic' leads to two problems. One is that important and complex subjects are trivialized by being put on the same plane as trivial ones: a degree in literature doesn't seem so impressive if the same institution is handing out degrees in Twilight Studies a decade later. Yes, it's good to broaden the scope of the things we learn about, but we shouldn't expand it so indiscriminately that we lose the ability to prioritize.

Second is the phenomenon of requiring qualifications for everything. Would we be better off a decade from now if getting a job in Good Vibrations required a degree in dildology? Of course that's silly, but when I first came to California I was quite surprised to discover hairdressers had to be licensed. Many have remarked on the fact that a 4 year degree is now considered a requirement even for quite basic administrative jobs, and I'm inclined to agree that this points to something amiss in our basic ideas about education.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:14 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


So does this mean my next issue of the alumni magazine will come with a centerfold?
posted by briank at 6:14 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


FYI, always remove the saw blade before attaching the dildo...
posted by the_artificer at 6:18 PM on March 2, 2011


“The typical scenario, Archibald says, is a married guy ‘who likes building things.’ He comes across someone else’s sex machine, is fascinated, decides to build one himself. ‘He presents it to his wife, who goes, ‘”Wha?’” and then he sells it on Ebay she sells him on Ebay.’”

Fixerated to better reflect reality.

I'm saying that in the context of academic freedom and education, the prof should be able to do this sort of thing without fear of sanction.

I do, however, think that he should be at risk of sanction in terms of being laughed at for being exposed as a guy with odd ideas about teaching. And if it turned out that he didn't stay on top of whatever the required paperwork is for using human subjects or getting consent forms, he should also face sanction. But I agree, the morally-based sanctions are really out of place in this kind of academic context.
posted by Forktine at 6:19 PM on March 2, 2011


I dearly wish it weren't 2 am and I had more time to devote to this story, which is breaking rapidly, meaning I'll get an early-morning phone call from my mother who has assuredly seen this story on Fox News.

I took this class two years ago. It is a very broad survey course -- although still a 300-level, thus requiring Intro to Psych for admittance. I actually skipped a fair number of classes, because it was cold in Chicago and I found Bailey a bit self-absorbed. But the material (and I can drum up a syllabus in the morning, I'm sure, if there's any interest) was fairly standard human sexuality type stuff -- evolutionary psychology, the psychology of attraction, paraphilias, etcetera. It's not like the students are receiving credit for watching sex demonstrations; the exams are notoriously difficult for this course, and the questions are certainly not "how many orgasms did the performer in the eighth week of term have?"

The after class optional events were where stuff like this happened (and NOTHING this exciting or divisive happened when I took the course -- I think a drag queen comes every year, and once footage of a BDSM session was shown). Many students don't make a habit of attending the after-class sessions, which would explain the relatively low turnout. I'm sure if they'd known this was on the agenda, they would have come.

My point being, essentially, that while I lean towards thinking this is inappropriate for class, its important to remember this was not a preplanned part of lecture (Bailey says that he didn't know the demonstration would occur until the performers were walking on stage) and rather an odd addendum of sorts, ostensibly to demonstrate female ejaculation and the gspot -- there certainly was a lecture about that. It wasn't a lecture, it was an optional assembly, so whether it should be held to the same standards of educational value as a lecture, I don't know. Would there be complaints if the campus brought the same performers, but as part of Sex Week? I'm sure a few, but not as many.

Im really debating what I think about the appropriateness of this, and like I said, I do wish I had more time and werent typing on an iDevice so I could further collect my thoughts, but hopefully this helps elucidate a bit.
posted by good day merlock at 6:21 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Walrus Cock
Simulated Ear Hole
"Elbows" O'Donoghue
posted by shakespeherian at 6:25 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Burhanistan writes "How is this thing any better than a normal vibrating dildo?"

I don't know if it's better but the action is obviously different. One being vibrations and the other being oscillation. Considering the wide array of shapes, styles and strength of more mainstream toys from objects that don't move under their own power at all to strong only slightly phallic toys like the magic wand I don't find it strange that some people would prefer a penetrative action. Honestly I find toys modelled on animal penises much weirder.
posted by Mitheral at 6:56 PM on March 2, 2011


The February 21st Demonstration: Bailey’s Account

I teach a large (nearly 600 person) human sexuality class at Northwestern University. During class I lecture about the science of sexuality. Many days after class I organize optional events. These events primarily comprise speakers addressing interesting aspects of sexuality. This year, for example, we have had a panel of gay men speaking about their sex lives, a transsexual performer, two convicted sex offenders, an expert in female sexual health and sexual pleasure, a plastic surgeon, a swinging couple, and the February 21st panel led by Ken Melvoin-Berg, on “networking for kinky people.” These events are entirely optional, they are not covered on exams, and I arrange them at considerable investment of my time, for which I receive no compensation from Northwestern University. The students find the events to be quite valuable, typically, because engaging real people in conversation provides useful examples and extensions of concepts students learn about in traditional academic ways.

I recruited Ken Melvoin-Berg (Ken MB henceforth) because past speakers covering similar topics had not been very interesting—they had merely given powerpoint presentations, of which students get too many already. They were also unwilling to answer questions about their sex lives, which defeated the purpose of that particular presentation. I had met Ken and believe he is articulate, open, knowledgeable, entertaining, and yes, kinky. Sexual diversity is surely a reasonable thing to address in a human sexuality class. I certainly had no hesitation inviting Ken MB, and I asked him whether he could recruitothers, as well, to give the presentation. (I especially thought it would be useful to have a woman as well as a man.)

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 providing a sexually explicit demonstration using 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

Ken MB and friends spoke to the class for a while and then informed students they were about to perform their demonstration. The presentation seems to have lasted about 5-10 minutes of their hour-long presentation. While I watched, I experienced some apprehension. None of this apprehension had to do with the possibility of harm to any observer, and none of it had to do with a lack of educational value. As I alluded, some experiences are educational and interesting in non-traditional ways. Rather, I was worried that there could be repercussions that would threaten the valuable speaker series that I have built over the years.

Student feedback for this event (I routinely feedback collect for all events) was uniformly positive. Although most students mentioned the explicit demonstration—which they enjoyed and thought was a singular college experience—most also said that the most valuable part was engaging in a dialogue with Ken MB et al.

Do I have any regrets? It is mostly too early to say. I certainly have no regrets concerning Northwestern students, who have demonstrated that they are open-minded grown ups rather than fragile children. I have not enjoyed the press, because I have assumed that reporters will sensationalize what happened and will not provide my side. (A welcome exception to this, mostly, was the Daily Northwestern article.) I suspect that my Dean is not enjoying this publicity, and I do not like displeasing my Dean.

To the extent that this event provokes a discussion of my reasoning, above, I welcome it. I expect many people to disagree with me. Thoughtful discussion of controversial topics is a cornerstone of
learning

J Michael Bailey
Professor
3/2/11
Evanston Illlinois



posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:01 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


anigbrowl writes "when I first came to California I was quite surprised to discover hairdressers had to be licensed."

Where don't hairdressers and barbers don't have to be licensed? It's a red seal trade in Canada.
posted by Mitheral at 7:09 PM on March 2, 2011


Well, it was obvious that this thread would expose some anti-sex biases.

There are a lot of MeFites who are more comfortable with sexual freedom as an abstract idea, a nice, non-Republican thing to believe in, than they are with actual, down-and-dirty fucking, especially the non-vanilla varieties.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:43 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


My main concern as an audience member would be that I don't have an appropriate pair of sweatpants to wear to this demonstration.
posted by Existential Dread at 7:48 PM on March 2, 2011


Ken MB is totes stoked.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:53 PM on March 2, 2011


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 providing a sexually explicit demonstration using a machine, surely counts as kinky, and hence as relevant.

He's contradicting himself here if I'm understanding this correctly. First he says that he only knew about it when they were on their way to the stage, and then he says that he had told the students explicitly what they were about to see. Unless by 'what they were about to see' he means the demonstration in general, not the particular form of the demonstration.

Also, the term 'sex-negativity' is such an unbelievable boring and faux-martyred phrase that it makes it impossible to take anyone seriously when they say it, even when you agree with the underlying point they're trying to make. It's such a SILENCED ALL MY LIFE kind of pose.
posted by winna at 8:54 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where don't hairdressers and barbers don't have to be licensed?

When I was growing up in Ireland/the UK I wasn't aware of any qualifications to perform this work. Things may have changed since then of course.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:06 PM on March 2, 2011


the emperor has no clothes

That's why we keep his as emperor. My god, is he rugged.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:10 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


nickmark: "Tenure or no, 600 Fucksaws would get awful expensive."

Tell me about it. I spent like $160 on a Fucksaw for one class and the bookstore wouldn't even buy it back at the end of the semester!
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:15 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


And here's my worse sex toy:

An ACTUAL RUBBER REPRODUCTION made from TAKING A LIFE CAST of THE TONGUE of former president of the United States JIMMY CARTER's brother Billy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:16 PM on March 2, 2011


An ACTUAL RUBBER REPRODUCTION made from TAKING A LIFE CAST of THE TONGUE of former president of the United States JIMMY CARTER's brother Billy.

...and then attached to a chainsaw blade
posted by the_artificer at 9:21 PM on March 2, 2011


It comes with a free case of Billy Beer, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:21 PM on March 2, 2011


Doesn't the free case of Billy Beer make it worse(r)?
posted by Ghidorah at 9:24 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:25 PM on March 2, 2011


On the plus side, if you're into water sports, you're allowed to pee on the tarmac.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:25 PM on March 2, 2011


In all seriousness, for just a second:

Questions about female ejaculate aside, I would have to wonder how someone wouldn't wouldn't piss themselves while making tender love to a skil-saw mounted dildo. I mean, how many thrusts per minute was that again? Isn't the continence barrier breached somewhere around 1000 thrusts a minute?
posted by Ghidorah at 9:31 PM on March 2, 2011


Would adding a werewolf-cock dildo to the reciprocating saw make it better or worse? Although I think the saw blade might interfere with the hypodermic synth-jizz-spurting option.

For that horny cyber-furry on your holiday gift list...
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:33 PM on March 2, 2011


The most "shocking" guest he had when I took his class was a dominatrix with a middle aged business looking man who was used as the submissive.

But I think the best part of the class came during finals. Two of my dorm mates who hadn't shown up for any of the classes, probably because they were hanging out with their girlfriends, only studied the night before. And then there was the far less, um, adventurous female friend of mine who went to all the classes and studied on and off for at least a week before and was a straight A student. She got a B+. The boys both got As.

Experience counts for something in that class.
posted by wilburthefrog at 9:47 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Clapper
posted by borges at 10:58 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess this is probably what conservatives mean when they say that liberals want to devalue or desanctify sexual relations.

Speaking as a person who actually is kinda squicked out by this: I just cannot wait for the day when consensually negotiated sex acts are devalued enough that they don't appear in the news.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:35 AM on March 3, 2011


An ACTUAL RUBBER REPRODUCTION made from TAKING A LIFE CAST of THE TONGUE of former president of the United States JIMMY CARTER's brother Billy.

...and then attached to a chainsaw blade


And then liberally coated with carborundum grains and MRSA spores.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:56 AM on March 3, 2011


Care to explain why it wasn't educational? I've never seen a woman aroused to orgasm by a Fucksaw before. I have to think I would learn something.

Like what?


The obvious answer would be how to safely and skillfully operate a $169 Fucksaw.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:38 AM on March 3, 2011


I find it bizarre and disappointing how narrow-minded my fellow MeFites are on this topic. People who are neither a) psychologists nor b) students in the class, and thus have no good idea what the overall effect of the demonstration could possibly have been, are commenting that it was unnecessary, that it was gratuitous, that it was "inappropriate" (whatever that means), that something else should have been done instead, that this is not good teaching, that this is more like an extracurricular activity, that there must be something wrong with the professor (quite insulting on these lines), that the course is not real psychology, that this is an issue for the federal government (because of student financial aid), or, at best, that this is nothing but a laughable moment because it's funny to think about mechanical sex toys.

Look. We have no problem with a professor who studies insects showing insects to students. We wouldn't normally ask (unless we were insect experts ourselves) whether the professor is just showing the pretty insects, or whether other insects should have been shown instead, or whether it is worthwhile for students to look at insects, or whether the study of insects is real zoology, or whether there is something wrong with someone who really likes to look at insects--or anything at all. We would think, OK, it's a class on insects, so they look at insects--and do whatever else they do, and while I may find it interesting (or not), I'm certainly in no position to pass judgment.

But change the topic to sex, and suddenly everyone's an expert on the curriculum, on what the professor is (secretly) getting out of the experience, on what the professor should have covered in the class, on what's good for students to see. It really makes me think that when a topic is emotionally sensitive to reader of MetaFilter, their objectivity and respect for research just goes out the window. This is a course on human sexuality. Human sexuality is a worthwhile academic study. The purpose of the demonstration was to demonstrate the diversity of human sexual experience. I don't know the details, but then I'm not in a position to evaluate them because I'm not an expert in human sexuality. I have sex, but I don't research it professionally. Bailey is an expert, and if he thinks that this is a worthwhile pedagogical activity, then, unless you have investigated this course and this demonstration quite carefully and exhaustively, you have no business making any serious-sounding criticisms about it--unless you think that a casual glance at academic activities is all that is needed to produce an informed opinion. Please.
posted by GentleReader at 8:05 AM on March 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


> The obvious answer would be how to safely and skillfully operate a $169 Fucksaw.

Perhaps the latter comes at the expense of the former?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:06 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The purpose of the demonstration was to demonstrate the diversity of human sexual experience. I don't know the details, but then I'm not in a position to evaluate them because I'm not an expert in human sexuality.

You're so open-minded, your brains have fallen out.

Look, you're not being intellectually honest if you're saying that we should be so respectful of research that an anything goes mentality is always worthwhile. It's easy to imagine research that even you would regard as beyond the pale, no matter the purported level of expertise.

Lines exist. Where you choose to draw them is your opinion. But saying that lines are inherently bad is simple horseshit.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:18 AM on March 3, 2011


if he thinks that this is a worthwhile pedagogical activity, then, unless you have investigated this course and this demonstration quite carefully and exhaustively, you have no business making any serious-sounding criticisms about it

Welcome to the internet. It looks like you are new here.

What do you learn about the diversity of human sexual experience by watching somone robo-fucked by a dildo-enhanced Sawzall that you would not learn by simply learning that some people enjoy this kind of thing?

If the students had volunteered to be Fucksawed then certainly, I grant you, they would have learned something about the diversity of human sexual experience.
posted by unSane at 8:23 AM on March 3, 2011


And thus we conclude our seminar on "Rationalizing personal biases and preferences and dressing them up as issues of pragmatism"

I would like to thank the MeFi Junior Anti-Sex Brigade for their shameless on-stage demonstration.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:20 AM on March 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm pretty sure MeFi would be defending it to the, ahem, hilt if there was an discernable reason for the demonstration other than to be outrageous and a big plate of WTF.
posted by Artw at 9:44 AM on March 3, 2011


> I find it bizarre and disappointing how narrow-minded my fellow MeFites are on this topic.

Eh, it's not that big of a deal here. I personally would never involve a dildo-equipped piece of construction equipment in my bedroom, but I wouldn't vote to make it a criminal act or something. If that makes me vanilla or prudish, fine.

I can kind of understand what this prof was on about, though. Perhaps he was trying to create an extreme situation and forcing students to work through (probably justified) biases about normal sexual activity to allow a bit of objectivity. If they are going to be involved in scholarly studies of sex and social interaction, then they will be able to apply their toolsets they learn in school on even crazy outliers like this. I don't really condone that, but it makes sense in way. At least if that what he was after.

Still, it's a dildo on a saw. It's silly.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:51 AM on March 3, 2011


Looking forward to seeing the look on your face when your daughter hands you her first tuition bill while telling you she's thinking of spending a semester "exploring freedom of thought and expression more generally."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:18 PM on March 2 [+] [!]


What a nice thing to post. The look on my face will probably be once of delight, as I see college as the perfect time for doing such things. After all, the idea of a liberal arts education is more about learning how to be a lifelong learner, rather than direct vocational training. If this means taking a semester off, that's cool too - college will still be there, and honestly I don't think most people are ready to take full advantage of it during the 18-21 years. Kinda weird that she's handing me the tuition bill instead of it showing up in my mailbox or email or internal messaging device but whatevs, who knows what the future holds

also, on the subject of Bad Sex Toy Names:

MICROSOFT BOB
posted by jtron at 9:56 AM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Neonomicock.
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Neocockservative.
posted by box at 11:13 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


As for personal biases and pragmatism, I personally would much, much rather be the woman onstage than be that prof, just unprofessionally consenting at the last minute to some yahoos taking over the presentation. Taking the leap from Q&A to demo was a pretty deviant last-minute lesson plan alteration for him to make. I guess I'm a just a little prudish when it comes to pedagogy.

In fairness, her apparent failure to deliver on the squirting proposal seems inept too.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:03 PM on March 3, 2011


There are a lot of MeFites who are more comfortable with sexual freedom as an abstract idea, a nice, non-Republican thing to believe in, than they are with actual, down-and-dirty fucking, especially the non-vanilla varieties.

I was at the Richmond tattoo convention about two years back, getting fairly hammered and looking to wander into some parties. Up on the top floor were the 'know somebody to get in' deals, that I managed to drunk ninja my way in while the doorguy was looking the other way. Inside, it was packed to the gills, half the room swarming the open bar, and the other half jammed into the living room area of the suite, all circled up. I waited interminably for a drink, then decided to check out whatever was in the center of the throng... which turned out to be several people having sex, performance style. At this point, I was kind of let down... with the amount of amazement and desperation to see that was being exhibited by the throng, I was fully expecting something amazing - live amputation, and the attending doctor is a trained cat, or something. But nope, just some people screwin'. I finished my smoke and drink, and then wandered out because the crowd was making the room outrageously warm.

Shortly afterward, I became aware that I just wandered out of an invite only party at a tattoo convention because the live sex show bored me, and came to the realization that I may be waaaay too jaded.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:33 PM on March 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


Note to self: hang out with FatherDagon if at all possible
posted by jtron at 2:49 PM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Or at least crash his parties.
posted by Mitheral at 3:14 PM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


This shitstorm is just getting started. *I* don't care, but I'm already enjoying watching Chicago (and other areas) freak out.
posted by agregoli at 5:12 PM on March 3, 2011


Shitstorm.
posted by box at 5:59 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


But change the topic to sex, and suddenly everyone's an expert on the curriculum, on what the professor is (secretly) getting out of the experience,on what the professor should have covered in the class, on what's good for students to see. It really makes me think that when a topic is emotionally sensitive to reader of MetaFilter, their objectivity and respect for research just goes out the window

You mistake our collective meh it is sex where is the learning design for prudishness and moralism.

Also I propose an entire one of professional grade sex toys branded as DilWalt power tools. They will be lithium powered.
posted by humanfont at 6:01 PM on March 3, 2011


Guys, I just realized that since sex isn't cool anymore, I need another word besides "sexy" to call things that have the sexy nature. Suggestions?
posted by LogicalDash at 5:15 AM on March 4, 2011


Fuhnky.
posted by unSane at 6:06 AM on March 4, 2011


Sexxay.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:06 AM on March 4, 2011


The French call it... 'Sassy'.
posted by FatherDagon at 6:49 AM on March 4, 2011


The couple who did the demonstration say that they volunteered after the class watched a video with what they felt was an unrealistic female orgasm. Demonstrating a real female orgasm (a biological process) would be relevant to an interdisciplinary class on human sexuality.
posted by jb at 9:59 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is the knowledge learned here academic/relevant to the discipline in which the course situated?

This strikes me as a shockingly narrow view of academia. The goal shouldn't be to narrow what we learn, but to broaden it.


Amen. The future will be interdisciplinary.

Presumably this is a psychology course? Or what's the discipline here/what disciplines are they drawing on (history? psychology? sociology? biology?). Is this academic knowledge, which is presumably what university classes are meant to teach?

Apparently this is a psychology class, but the most obvious "discipline" to me would be human biology.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:09 AM on March 4, 2011


Note to self: hang out with FatherDagon if at all possible
posted by jtron at 5:49 PM on March 3 [1 favorite +] [!]

Or at least crash his parties.
posted by Mitheral at 6:14 PM on March 3 [2 favorites +] [!]


As a former roommate of Mr. Dagon, I can only say that in my time there I think i saw HIM naked at parties more often than I did others... he IS a cool guy, so by all means hang out with him and buy him a drink, but just... be warned.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:28 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It could also be that a high % of Mefites take SSRIs and have thus lost interest.
posted by humanfont at 11:53 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It could also be that a high % of Mefites take SSRIs and have thus lost interest.

Maybe there's more of a market for a sex toy called 'The Deadener' than previously thought.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:12 PM on March 4, 2011


NU prez:
In his statement, Morton Schapiro, the university president, said: “Although the incident took place in an after-class session that students were not required to attend, and students were advised in advance, several times, of the explicit nature of the activity, I feel it represented extremely poor judgment on the part of our faculty member.” Translation: "Despite these good, logical, reasonable points about why this was OK and not that big of a deal, what matters most is that it makes me feel funny." Or, probably more accurately, that it makes parents/alumni/donors feel funny.
posted by AceRock at 12:33 PM on March 4, 2011


Says here the professor now regrets his mistake.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:04 PM on March 5, 2011


Bailey is an expert, and if he thinks that this is a worthwhile pedagogical activity, then, unless you have investigated this course and this demonstration quite carefully and exhaustively, you have no business making any serious-sounding criticisms about it--unless you think that a casual glance at academic activities is all that is needed to produce an informed opinion.

Would you also advocate the professor of a forensic science class literally slitting the throats of live human beings in front of students, in order to demonstrate various blood spattering patterns?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:40 AM on March 7, 2011


There was no victim in the demonstration.
posted by Mitheral at 6:52 AM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


There was no victim in the demonstration.

That is why I expressly did not say "victim" in my analogy. The test subjects in that forensic class would similarly be willing participants.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 AM on March 7, 2011


Wait, are you comparing an orgasm to assisted suicide? If so, I think you're doing it wrong.
posted by brundlefly at 8:18 AM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait, are you comparing an orgasm to assisted suicide? If so, I think you're doing it wrong.

Of course I'm not.

Gentle Reader stated here that because this professor was "an expert," that therefore anything he chose to do in class, in the service of his lectures, should be beyond restraint. I was simply proposing a similar act that an "expert" in a different field could do to illustrate a point as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:40 AM on March 7, 2011


No, I don't think that's what Gentle Reader said at all. I suggest you re-read the sentence you quoted.
posted by brundlefly at 8:50 AM on March 7, 2011


With all due respect, brundlefly, I read the sentence in the midst of the comment in its entirety. I'm honestly at a loss to see how else to interpret the comment other than as an argument that "students of entemology get shown live bugs, right? So why shouldn't students of sexuality get shown sex acts if the teacher -- an expert in the field, don't forget -- deems it necessary to do so?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:56 AM on March 7, 2011


EC, you've totally got us, we have a line and we draw it at violently killing someone onstage for questionable educational purposes. God knows its such a small step from that to a live sex demonstration in a sex ed class.

We are COLDBUSTED!
posted by Reverend John at 1:34 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


we have a line and we draw it at violently killing someone onstage for questionable educational purposes. God knows its such a small step from that to a live sex demonstration in a sex ed class.

I know you're trying to be sarcastic, but -- why draw the line there?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:38 PM on March 7, 2011




EmpressCallipygos writes "I know you're trying to be sarcastic, but -- why draw the line there?"

'Cause people are dieing on one side of the line and not on the other?
posted by Mitheral at 2:39 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


'Cause people are dieing on one side of the line and not on the other?

Do you also shun any kind of teaching tool that would kill non-human life as well (i.e., dissecting worms)?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:41 PM on March 7, 2011


EC, why don't you just get where you're going and alsot supply the answers divvying up all the possible ethical positions that a person could take between KILLING SOMEONE in class and SEX in class, pick some point where someone would draw a small arbitrary distinction between two of them and go "SEE!? TOTALLY ARBITRARY! THEREFORE SEX ON STAGE IS THE SAME AS MURDER! QED YOU NECROPHILIAC PERVERTS!"
posted by Reverend John at 8:04 PM on March 7, 2011


Would you also advocate the professor of a forensic science class literally slitting the throats of live human beings in front of students, in order to demonstrate various blood spattering patterns?

That is the most hilarious slippery slope argument I have ever read. I am gibbering here.
posted by IjonTichy at 8:58 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


EC, why don't you just get where you're going

"Where I'm going" is that using "he's an expert, and that means we shouldn't question what he says he has to do in class" is a stupid-ass argument. That really was all.

It sounded to me like the argument was "if he's an expert in his field we need to give him 100% carte blanche in everything if he says the class needs to see it," and that just struck me as patently ridiculous. He may be an expert, but he is an expert operating in a society with a set code of rules, and there needs to be a reeeeeeeally good argument for stepping outside that code.

I actually wasn't speaking to whether or not this is an ethical thing to do in class at all, only the "back off, man, he's a scientist! Don't question him!" defense that was being put out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:57 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except that's not the argument that was made:

Bailey is an expert, and if he thinks that this is a worthwhile pedagogical activity, then, unless you have investigated this course and this demonstration quite carefully and exhaustively, you have no business making any serious-sounding criticisms about it--unless you think that a casual glance at academic activities is all that is needed to produce an informed opinion.

There's no carte blanche there. Simply a caution against mistaking knee-jerk squeamishness for valid criticism. Not only are we not experts on this subject, we weren't even in the class. If you think there's a valid argument to be made against this demonstration on pedagogical grounds, make it.

(Yes, I read the comment in its entirely.)
posted by brundlefly at 6:44 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, I mean to type "entirely". Why?
posted by brundlefly at 6:45 AM on March 8, 2011


I don't think its a stupid ass-argument. Your idea that he is "operating in a society with a set code of rules, and there needs to be a reeeeeeeally good argument for stepping outside that code" is no less stupid-ass than the "back off, man, he's a scientist" argument (which, I must say, style points to you for making that analogy).

It's not clear to me as a layman that he violated any rule besides 'eek! sex! so dirty! so scary! so evil!', which isn't really a generally accepted rule. If you could point to the rule that you think he's broken and where its printed and by what generally accepted authority it has been adopted and how it applies to a university sex class I think it would add some weight to your argument.

I suppose you could say he violated something under 720 ILCS 5/11, Sex Offenses, though if you're going with Public Indecency its only a misdemeanor. Compare that to 720 ILCS 5/9, Homcide, where the word 'misdemeanor' doesn't even appear. My conclusion as a layman is that even society's code of rules makes a big distinction between sex and killing, and that its not at all clear that he's even committed any sort of sex related offense.
posted by Reverend John at 6:50 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Father John (grin):

Public indecency was precisely what I was talking about. Misdemeanor or no, and the difference between sex and killing notwithstanding, there are definite laws in place which each community hammers out for itself when it comes to "decency" -- and while there are variations from town to town, most of them do draw a definite line between simulated and actual sex acts in public. And it looked like this guy just blithely ignored all of them, and he shouldn't get a pass for that. I mean, hell, actors don't get a pass on it when they have to do sex scenes on stage -- they have to simulate it through various tricks and dodges. Unless you're in a very, very particular kind of theater -- and even there, there are rules. People could also make the argument that actors and artists are "experts" in this regard as well, but no one does. So, too, should we not make the argument in favor of a college professor.

Incidentally, I remain unconvinced that there was any point this professor wanted to make that was intrinsically best illustrated by a live demonstration, that he couldn't have made through a verbal description of his points. That's what my own human sexuality teacher did, and we all understood just fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:19 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Though I am not a lawyer, I think a legal argument *could* be made that he violated section 11-9, though I'm sure his lawyer would have a lot to say about whether this was a "public place" in the legal sense, and also whether the act was done "with intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire of the person." or whether the intent was expressly educational.

I think "shouldn't" and "should" are the key words here. You say he shouldn't get a pass. I ask why not? I suspect he will get pass, at least legally speaking. I think he should get a pass by the prosecutors office both on the grounds that his demo was legitimately educational and also that it would be a waste of limited resources to pursue criminal charges against him. Furthermore, even if it were to come to trial I think he should get a pass from a judge because the intent of the law seems to be to prevent people from having sex where other people who don't want to see it could accidentally be exposed to it, which is not the case here, and because of the above caveats about public places and intent of the person.

So while I don't think you're coming out of left field by saying this runs afoul of public indecency laws I don't agree with you that they do. I think the professor was still clearly in the right. So in the final analysis I also think he should get a pass from all of us because this wasn't the sort of public indecency that we might worry about potentially harming our minor children, degrading our quality of life, or cheapening our community.
posted by Reverend John at 8:52 AM on March 8, 2011


You say he shouldn't get a pass. I ask why not? I suspect he will get pass, at least legally speaking. I think he should get a pass by the prosecutors office both on the grounds that his demo was legitimately educational and also that it would be a waste of limited resources to pursue criminal charges against him.

Probably my argument against is in my "incidentally" point above: whether this was "legitimately educational." What was there about a literal demonstration that was more so educational than a simulation, in other words?

To return to my "theater doesn't get a dodge" point -- you would be hard-pressed to argue that a simulated act of fellatio onstage wouldn't get the artistic point of your work across as well as an actual act of fellatio. There are a very, very minute set of circumstances in which a faked act of fellatio wouldn't work and that a literal act is the only valid response.

Similarly: since I do not see why this specifically had to be a live, literal demonstration -- as opposed to a verbal description, a model, or hell, even a film, I am left with questions as to whether the motives were indeed "expressly educational."

Although, that raises a question for you -- you have accepted that this was a strictly educational move. Can you explain why you feel only a live demonstration of this machine was the only possible way to illustrate the point, to the extent that you feel a film or a description would be thoroughly unacceptable? I accept that first-hand experience in anything is most illustrative, but can you explain why you feel a filmed depiction of this machine's use was so thoroughly pointless that the teacher couldn't have simply shown that instead?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:03 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can you explain why you feel only a live demonstration of this machine was the only possible way to illustrate the point, to the extent that you feel a film or a description would be thoroughly unacceptable?

This point is related to a question that was bothering me on my walk to work today. If there's no functional difference between a live demonstration and a film, than why is it objectionable to show students sex in person, as opposed to on tape? The students who attended don't seem to have been bothered by the experience. In an age where pornography is available to practically everyone within seconds at almost all times, why is the viewing of an actual real-life in-person sex act something that still gets people so upset? Would people have minded if he showed a film instead? If the couple were behind a screen? Behind a glass wall? What if it were a live video?
posted by IjonTichy at 12:03 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


First, my personal opinion is that live sex on stage as part of a legitimate theatrical performance should be allowed, though I recognize that it isn't and wouldn't get the same amount of leeway that I'm arguing Prof. Bailey should get for his demo.

But the theater and the university also serve different functions. A theatrical production which included a sex scene would rarely be about the psychology, mechanics and minutia of sex itself, and even if it was a was, a theatrical production is something presented for the enjoyment of its audience. Their education or enlightenment is a secondary consideration at best. It is harder in a theatrical setting to draw a distinction between a performance for some more noble purpose and, in the words of the law, an "intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire of the person". In the class, however, the "audience" and the "producer" are both engaged in a much larger process of a university class, of which this is only one part, and one could hardly say that they had gone through this whole commitment just to get their jollies in this one presentation.

And I'd argue that it is reasonable to say that a live sex demonstration would convey subtleties that a verbal description, model, or film wouldn't, not to mention a greater sense of authenticity for the viewers. I don't know that it was the only possible way to illustrate the point, only that it is a reasonable, legitimate and possibly the best way to illustrate the point, so I think it isn't reasonable to be up in arms against Prof. Bailey.

Basically we have a serious, learned professor deciding to make a presentation about his topic to his serious, studious pupils. Second guessing them on the basis of laws that are designed to protect the greater public from having someone else's sexuality involuntarily imposed on them or having to deal with the stigma of having a regular sex show in their neighborhood doesn't seem reasonable to me.
posted by Reverend John at 1:53 PM on March 8, 2011


I haven't heard as much discussion online about my discomfort with Bailey's demo (full disclosure: I am a non-tenure track lecturer at NU) which had more to do with the weird and fuzzy boundaries about human subjects in this instance. There was the professor, who does research on men with different sexual orientations viewing photos of sexual vs nonsexual photographs; the "performers" who have admitted to sexually enjoying exhibitionism; and the students, who were at once learners AND participants in someone's kink AND potentially subjects of the professor. However, the students weren't informed of any role that they might play other than learner. Which makes me uncomfortable from a "working with human subjects" perspective.

From what I gather, the demonstration was somewhat unplanned, though when it was decided on the spot to do it, students who were uncomfortable had the option of bailing. But frankly, I don't think that Bailey really thought this "roles" thing through from a human subjects standpoint and didn't really clarify to the students this strange "just learner? Or participant?" issue that was being broached, maybe even related to a conflict-of-interest on his part with his research focus. Perhaps someone who does more rigorous research, especially with human subjects would care to weigh in on this?

Also, Sawzall? Really? Somewhere in Milwaukee, a VP of Marketing has fainted dead away.
posted by jeanmari at 1:58 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


(full disclosure: jeanmari somehow knows I work on an IRB and MeMailed me for my opinion on the question she raised above. Also, note to self: Stop revealing professional experience, stick to snarking. Much easier.)

Honestly, I don't think the issue of any legal ramifications vis a vis human subjects research (HSR, in the biz) enters into this picture. I make no comment on decency laws and whatnot. While Bailey may conduct research on sexuality outside the classroom, and may even recruit his students for some projects, the after-class demonstration fails to meet the basic (federal, legal) definition of research by a wide margin. Rather than drone on about why it wouldn't count as HSR, let me just give you an example of the letter I would send to Bailey, were he to apply to my IRB for approval.

[Fancy Letterhead]

Peter Bailey, PhD
Department of Pyschology
Northwestern University

Re: Female Ejaculation Demonstration

Dear Dr. Bailey,

Thank you for requesting a determination from our office about the above-referenced project. Based on our review of the materials you provided, we have determined that it does not require IRB review because it does not meet the definition of "research" as defined by Anonymous University's policies, as well as federal regulations.

Specifically, in this project, you will have a live performance of a woman being brought to multiple orgasms by a mechanized sex toy in front of a voluntary audience of undergraduates. This fails to meet the definition of research as laid out in 45 CFR 46.102(d), which specifies not only that research must be "systematic," but also that it must be "generalizable." This classroom demonstration fails to meet those tests, particularly the former, and is instead a (some would say needless) pedagogical exercise intended to pass on well established knowledge, and therefore not under the purview of the IRB.

If you would like to build upon this to create a study with publishable potential, I recommend the following steps:

- Institute a "systematic" aspect of this demonstration. Have your students sign consent forms agreeing to rate their arousal and cause of arousal through a questionnaire or two.

- Better yet, get some of them to agree to wear those penis rings that measure arousal! I hear there are also insertable devices to measure arousal in both men and women these days. Just be sure that compensation for participation is not so great as to be coercive. Extra credit may be acceptable.

- Make this generalizable, college undergraduates are notoriously aroused by everything from animal crackers to reflections of themselves in the mirror. Their sexual knowledge is also generally poor, consisting almost entirely of lies they heard from older siblings and horror stories from their peers who are currently nursing. Consider recruiting a randomized pool of individuals to measure their arousal and/or edification upon watching the performance. I'm sure you'll have no problem with enrollment, just be sure to clear all recruitment materials with this office first.

Please note, simply asking your students to fill out questionnaires or otherwise answer questions about their educational experience would count as a quality improvement/assurance program, and would therefore not be subject to IRB review either.

Thank you for consulting the IRB in this matter. Also, seriously, what the fuck were you thinking?

Sincerely,

Panjandrum
Quite a Fancy Title
Anonymous University IRB
posted by Panjandrum at 7:39 PM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Panjandrum pretty much takes care of things on the "is this legitimately research" end. But to answer myself, because I was asked:

If there's no functional difference between a live demonstration and a film, than why is it objectionable to show students sex in person, as opposed to on tape?

If you say there is "no functional difference" between live sex and filmed sex, then let me ask you -- do you also consider that there is "no functional difference" between making love to someone, and watching a tape of that same person while masturbating? ...I'm guessing you'd say that yeah, there's a difference. The live act carries more weight to it in other areas -- emotional, visceral, etc. -- that a mere educational demonstration would carry. ....Might these factors not prove to be somewhat distracting in a university setting?...

I'd argue that it is reasonable to say that a live sex demonstration would convey subtleties that a verbal description, model, or film wouldn't, not to mention a greater sense of authenticity for the viewers. I don't know that it was the only possible way to illustrate the point, only that it is a reasonable, legitimate and possibly the best way to illustrate the point, so I think it isn't reasonable to be up in arms against Prof. Bailey.

And that's why I went for the "live killing in a forensic class" discussion. Because, actually showing what happens when you slash someone's jugular "conveys subtleties that a verbal description, model, or film wouldn't" as well. However, because....well, you'd be KILLING someone that way, we don't do that. Fortunately, though, the subtleties are slight enough that students do not suffer by settling for a written description instead.

Same too with a film or model of sex acts. You say that a "live sex demonstration conveys subtleties that a verbal description, model, or film wouldn't". Are those subtleties so great that a film version would truly be that lacking?

Also, why are you concerned about the students having "a greater sense of authenticity", if this is an educational setting? Authenticity about what? What does "authenticity" mean if you're talking a student lecture anyway?

Because, hell, if "authenticity" is what you're after, then why not send each student in turn out on a solo date with the test subject and her Fucksaw instead? I mean, the one-on-one experience is more "authentic" than a lecture hall in terms of human sexual behavior anyway, right? So if you're going for vermisilitude, then why not go all the way?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:15 PM on March 8, 2011


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