EVANSTON, Ill.—Another college has become embroiled in controversy over sex on campus. No, not Brigham Young University—which kicked a star basketball player off the team this week because he had admitted having sex with his girlfriend— but the other sex scandal involving Northwestern University and the live sex demo that took place Feb. 21 under the watchful eye of psychology professor John Bailey, who’s getting a lot of attention in the aftermath.
The details of the incident are pretty prosaic. Following a lecture on kinky sex by Bailey, who teaches a popular class on human sexuality that attracts upwards of 600 students a semester, an invited speaker, Ken Melvoin-Berg, the co-owner of a business called Weird Chicago Tours, suggested to Bailey that a couple he had brought along, Faith Kroll and her fiance Jim Marcus, provide a live demonstration of “female ejaculation using equipment they had brought with them,” according to a written account of the proceedings provided by Bailey Wednesday. The equipment was appaerently a device called a Fuck Saw, which is sold by Stockroom.
Of the almost 600 students who attended the professor’s lecture that night, about 100 remained for the live demonstration, which was not a part of the actual class and was totally voluntary. According to Bailey, “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 actual demo was made by 25-year-old Faith Kroll and her fiancé, Jim Marcus, who brought the woman to a climax using the Fuck Saw, eliciting, according to the Daily Beast, “plenty of gasps, not just from flabbergasted students.”
It did not take long for word of the live sex demo to make the rounds not just of the campus but also local media. From there word spread, and the inevitable fallout has resulted in the usual complaints from alumni and other university supporters, and increasing media attention.
At first, Northwestern supported Bailey. "The university supports the efforts of its faculty to further the advancement of knowledge," a spokesman said earlier this week, adding, "Northwestern University faculty members engage in teaching and research on a wide variety of topics, some of them controversial."
To head off any further problems, Bailey issued the aforementioned statement Wednesday, in which he explained his mindset in allowing the demonstration, which had not been planned ahead of time, to go ahead.
“My decision to say ‘yes’ reflected my ability to come up with a legitimate reason why students should not be able to watch such a demonstration,” he wrote. “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.
“Furthermore,” he added, “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.”
Thursday, however, reportedly in response to the complaints by university supporters and others, Northwestern President Morton Schapiro issued a statement highly critical of the demonstration, and stating that he was ordering an internal investigation of the matter.
"I have recently learned of the after-class activity associated with Prof. Michael Bailey's Human Sexuality class, and I am troubled and disappointed by what occurred," reported MSNBC.com. "I simply do not believe this was appropriate, necessary or in keeping with Northwestern University's academic mission.”
Schapiro added that the fact that it happened after class and was voluntary was beside the point. "I feel it represented extremely poor judgment on the part of our faculty member," he added. "I have directed that we investigate fully the specifics of this incident, and also clarify what constitutes appropriate pedagogy.”
That is about where the hullabaloo stands at the moment. It will either die down or, more likely, anti-porn forces from Illinois and elsewhere will ramp up criticism of Bailey and seek his dismissal. As far as the legality of what occurred, the MSNBC article contained the oddest sentence regarding local law enforcement’s view of the episode.
“Evanston police say it will be up to the school to determine if the demonstration violated any local ordinances,” the article stated.
That was very obliging of them.
To read the complete statement by professor Bailey, click here.
Photo: Northwestern University; inset left, Faith Kroll and Jim Marcus; inset right, fuck saw