Telling too much, too little or just enough
May 22, 2012 8:07 AM   Subscribe

A museum exhibit called Sex: A Tell-All Exhibition is drawing controversy. After running in Montreal and Regina with no complaints, the exhibit was criticised by the Heritage Minister when it came to Ottawa for being too lurid and being outside the mandate of the Science and Technology Museum.

The Current does a longer-form followup, interviewing the exhibit's creator, as well as a critic and a sexual health educator.
posted by frimble (34 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I heard Jian Ghomeshi interview Andrea Mrozek of the Institute of Family and Marriage Canada about this last week. SO MUCH YELLING AT THE RADIO.
posted by looli at 8:17 AM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

As far as I can tell, the exhibit has two realistic nudes, a bunch of anatomical drawings, some condoms on sticks, and token text about sexual diversity, casual sex and masturbation. I suspect that it's the text that pushes things into a different zone of outrage compared to Chicago's body slices (described about halfway down the page.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:20 AM on May 22, 2012

No surprise that a fundamentalist Christian group is complaining (heaven forbid teenagers be taught basic biology, healthy sexuality or the value of saying no to unwanted sexual advantages,) but I was under the impression that despite being a conservative, James Moore was a social liberal?
posted by zarq at 8:22 AM on May 22, 2012

Errrr... "unwanted sexual advantages" should be "unwanted sexual advances" in my last comment.
posted by zarq at 8:23 AM on May 22, 2012

Well, they certainly got my attention.
posted by Nomyte at 8:26 AM on May 22, 2012

I hope these people never find out about the internet.
posted by goethean at 8:27 AM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yes here in Ottawa, led by the forces of moral right and our Minister of Culture and Heritage James Moore, who hasn't even seen the damned exhibit but who exhorted friggin' EVERYBODY to pile their complaints onto the Museum before the exhibit even opened, we just love it when Regina, Saskatchewan comes off looking urbane and cosmopolitan by comparison to the National Capital Region. That is NOT, I hasten to add, a slam on Regina, which I have visited and found to easily be among the most hospitable cities in this country. Simply to express my disgust that here in Ottawa, this entire stupid story has made us out to be a bunch of Victorian prudes who still put paper stockings on our chicken drumsticks and run screaming for cover if the word "masturbation" is even mentioned in open conversation. And that a supposed federal cabinet Minister would use the full authority of his office to ram his jaundiced view of moral correctness down the throats of everyone who would dare to cross the Museum's threshold. (Oh, if anyone asks: sex involves biology. That's why the exhibit is at the National Museum of Science and Technology.)
posted by Mike D at 8:28 AM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Any chance I can find that "animated video informing children about masturbation" somewhere else then? I like to keep up on the latest techniques.
posted by orme at 8:31 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Montreal Science Centre has an online exhibit as well, built around themed cartoons.
posted by frimble at 8:44 AM on May 22, 2012

Well, at least up there they only prohibit the really lurid stuff like Anne Coulter appearances.
posted by XMLicious at 8:44 AM on May 22, 2012

Unfortunately, in my youth, it was only through rumour and tawdry literature that I was introduced to the wonders of a Regina.
posted by hal9k at 8:54 AM on May 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

'Rhymes With Regina' was the name of a group formed by some friends of mine back in high school. IIRC the ensemble lasted the duration of one short mid-week set at Call The Office in London.
posted by Flashman at 8:56 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was under the impression that despite being a conservative, James Moore was a social liberal?

Hard to say, to me it looks like he's "for" whatever benefits him like a lot of politicians are. He's just making hay and riling up the base. The guy was a talk radio host after all, it's what he does.
posted by Hoopo at 9:39 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's the giant portrait of nude Prime Minister Stephen Harper that got my attention. Yeesh!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:47 AM on May 22, 2012

I'm sure if more people were talking about the museum's Weights and Measures Collection they wouldn't have had to bring in an animated masturbation video and condoms on sticks to get people talking.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:51 AM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

A comment about a nude Stephen Harper portrait followed by one about a masturbation video? That makes for bad, disturbing imagery.
posted by jeather at 10:00 AM on May 22, 2012

If they dislike the exhibit's focus on the science of human sexuality, then perhaps we could contribute suggestions for relevant modern technology, no?
posted by jeffburdges at 10:39 AM on May 22, 2012

If they dislike the exhibit's focus on the science of human sexuality, then perhaps we could contribute suggestions for relevant modern technology, no?

"Teledildonics" strikes me as the ultimate Web 2.0 neologism.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:53 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's a reason why 7 + 1 landscape painters are Canada's favourite artists.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:20 AM on May 22, 2012

I think I first heard the word Teledildonics in 1993, and I'm sure it's been used earlier, but sure.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:54 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Glad to know the Canadians share our USAian prudishness. Wouldn't want that sex to get all over people.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:00 PM on May 22, 2012

According to Wikipedia, teledildonics was coined in 1975.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:46 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Well, you learn something new everyday. Thanks Metafilter!
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:03 PM on May 22, 2012

Had a discussion with a colleague at work today about this (we're both in Ottawa, for what its worth). She was strongly against this exhibit for the reason that 1) Sex is something parents should teach their children about, not an exhibit 2) Her taxes are paying for it, she doesn't like that 3) School children might/will be taken to see it without their parents present.

I tried to argue as follows: 1) If you don't believe in your children seeing this, don't participate. Why take the option away from others? 2) I pay for lots of things (via my taxes) that I don't like. Such is life. 3) If parents don't want their kids seeing the exhibit on a school trip, don't sign the permission slip. Again, don't participate.

In the end we had to agree to disagree. Clearly.
posted by aclevername at 4:19 PM on May 22, 2012

Yeah, I'd wager as a % of your tax dollars at work, this exhibit pales in comparison to those "Canada's Economic Action Plan" signs that the Cons have decided to plaster all over everything that gets any funding whatsoever.
posted by Hoopo at 6:42 PM on May 22, 2012

There’s nothing to get hot and bothered about in this exhibit. It’s not scandalizing. It’s actually rather boring, so clearly an expression of sex as visualized by educators and public health officials, pedants who can drain the thrill even out of orgasm.Actually, I was more intrigued by a separate exhibit on how to build a canoe, that wonderfully pre-techno invention.
Way to go, museum world!
posted by Miko at 7:47 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, at least up there they only prohibit the really lurid stuff like Anne Coulter appearances.

Note: I stood corrected on a comment I made a few years back, when I incorrectly said that the host venue cancelled her appearance. In actual fact, she herself had cancelled, with the rather lame excuse that she feared for her safety because some anonymous persons had "made some comments" about her on those internets... but the real fact is: Bullies are often Cowards.
posted by ovvl at 8:40 PM on May 22, 2012

Semi-related tangent about Regina. A woman I know who grew up in Regina spent much of her childhood believing her vagina actually was called a "Regina".

If only there was some sort of museum exhibit back then which could've properly informed her about this embarrassing mis-understanding...
posted by Jaybo at 9:00 PM on May 22, 2012

I used to think "Regina" was QEII's middle name. Really. And I thought it was pretty, but apparently I mispronounced it.

I'd like to be amused about the age change from 12 to 16. It's like they raised it so the only useful purpose is for those teenagers to find out if they did it right, or not.

Heritage Minister James Moore said: " my opinion it's not appropriate for young underage children..."

I was wondering then whether it was okay for old underage children? Well, only after I managed to not stop reading. It is the cheapest trick in the book to use multiple redundancy to create alarm, especially when referring to kids.

However, it is clear to me that whomever had decided 12 was the appropriate age was far closer to reasonable. This prudishness is destructive and brings harm on not-so-young children who happen to be just old enough to be hitting puberty, which is damn tricky enough without a bunch of officious asshole politicians working to make sure it is as difficult as possible--In the name of "protecting" them.

Withholding useful information is abusive, and just accept the simple fact that our culture is sick about this topic, and giving information to the kids is the only way we can recover. This "Heritage Minister" is an enemy of the truth and the light. Stop putting up with this shit.
posted by Goofyy at 9:15 PM on May 22, 2012

Semi-related tangent about Regina. A woman I know who grew up in Regina spent much of her childhood believing her vagina actually was called a "Regina".

My wife laughs hysterically every time she hears that city's name spoken by a Canadian, and is vaguely convinced that it's deliberately become mispronounced compared to what she expects from Latin because of the double entendre possibilities.
posted by frimble at 10:35 PM on May 22, 2012

Consider my Midddle European mind blown. When first reading the fpp I thought about something vaguely lurid. More in line with an erotic tradeshow and already went "LoL North America" in my head. Then I read CBrachyrhynchos description of the exhibition and thought: Huh? That sounds like perfectly regular sex-ed for kids where I come from.

Culture it's a funny thing. I'm not saying we don't have educators or politicians who think "of the children" like the Heritage Minister, because sure we have. I'm just saying that I can't see how any of them would ever open their stupid mouths to the media about something like this. Because they would get laughed at. Loudly.

On second thought, with the medias ways of producing controversy these days ... let's just not go there.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 12:02 AM on May 23, 2012

There are several novel sites linked from the DIY pages mentioned in teledildonics, like,, and arse elektronika.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:37 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Having visited the Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa a couple times, I conclude that the reason people are saying it's inappropriate for that venue is that it's interesting, and from this century.
posted by mendel at 4:17 PM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

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