On Feb. 21, the 600 Northwestern University students enrolled in the popular Human Sexuality course taught by professor John Michael Bailey were told that if they wished to stay after class -- it was clearly made optional -- they would see a live demonstration of female ejaculation, the subject of that day's class. A naked young woman (not a student) would demonstrate a "f---saw" and come to orgasm in front of the students. About 120 students stayed.
When word came out about this contribution to young people's understanding of life, the university defended it. Its official spokesman, Al Cubbage, released this statement:
"Northwestern University faculty members engage in teaching and research on a wide variety of topics, some of them controversial and at the leading edge of their respective disciplines. The university supports the efforts of its faculty to further the advancement of knowledge."
We will return to that statement in a moment.
But first, here are excerpts from the longer statement released by Bailey on March 1, after the story had begun to be national news:
"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. ... 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. ... The demonstration, which included a woman who enjoyed providing a sexually explicit demonstration using a machine, surely counts as kinky, and hence as relevant. ... I did not wish, and I do not wish, to surrender to sex negativity and fear. ...
"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. ... Rather, I was worried that there could be repercussions that would threaten the valuable speaker series that I have built over the years. ...
"Do I have any regrets? I certainly have no regrets concerning Northwestern students, who have demonstrated that they are open-minded grown ups rather than fragile children."