Mercedes Allen

Live Nude Sex Show!

Filed By Mercedes Allen | March 04, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: autogynephilia, J. Michael Bailey, Northwestern University

The above is not what you would expect to be the heading used to advertise an elective jmb.jpgon-campus speaker series event. But then, most of us never attended Northwestern University.

After an initial discussion at Ryan Family Auditorium, the students were told that a couple were going to demonstrate the use of a sex toy and female orgasm.

"Both professor Bailey and myself gave them five or six warnings about what was about to happen and it would be graphic," Melvoin-Berg said.

J. Michael Bailey, of course, is no stranger to controversy. When he wrote The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism, Bailey came under fire for conflating transsexuals with transvestites in order to popularize the theory of autogynephilia, for allegedly using discussions with people who never consented to being interviewed, and allegedly having sex with one of his research subjects. He also famously co-wrote a paper speculating about using eugenics to eradicate homosexuality.

The speaker series for Prof. Bailey's Psychology 337: Human Sexuality this year includes voluntary classes (not required for grades) about bondage, swinging, exhibitionism, and other fetishes. For Valentine's Day, he invited two convicted sex offenders to speak about rape and molestation. On the evening in question, his guest was a fellow who according to The Chicago Sun-Times "runs the 'Weird Chicago Red Light District Sex Tour,' which has participants playing games like 'spot the ho' as they travel the city looking for prostitutes." As the evening wore on, the discussion turned into a debate about female orgasm, when someone made a spur-of-the-moment query, and out came the "f--- saw," a reciprocating saw rigged to take a dildo.

"We were watching a video on sexual arousal ... ," [Northwestern senior Justin] Smith said. "The main guy, Ken, said, 'Are you ready for the live sex show?' We were like, 'OK.'"

Now, I have to admit being conflicted on this one. I'm a fairly sex-positive person myself, and I believe that there should be greater awareness about things like female orgasm and how to achieve it. However, I have to wonder just how much of this event was treated with a sideshow atmosphere, given Bailey's complaint that past speakers "had not been very interesting" and "had merely given powerpoint presentations"? I also wonder how many people in attendance really consented to witnessing something that hadn't been advertised, as opposed to going along for a myriad of other reasons - such as peer pressure or the apathy typified by a sentiment of "well, I'm here already." One junior described the demo as a "little more explicit than expected."

I guess I'm a prude, after all.

Full disclosure: I also have to admit a bias. Bailey has in the past demonstrated stunning arrogance in interviews, and as a self-proclaimed "expert" on transsexualism, claims to know better than I do who I am and what that means, even though his conclusion in no way matches reality. When someone thinks I should be their trained circus freak, it's more than a little button-pushing.

All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up.

Regardless of what anyone thinks, though, Fox News has the story now. For someone with an already chequered record, will this finally be The Controversy...?

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Kathy Padilla | March 4, 2011 8:55 AM

I don't have any problem with a voluntary presentation for people who are adults.

I do agree that his choosing to present people to his students as weird, ho's and the message sent by putting a saw in a woman are a desperate attempt to grab some notoriety, then play the martyr when it gets the publicity he planned. He'd like to be seen as controversial - but he's really more of a a douche. The academic equivalent of Charlie Sheen.

Yeah, it really, really sounds like a publicity stunt. And he gets it a lot too - I hear something about J. Michael Bailey about once a month. That's more than most academics.

Om Kalthoum | March 4, 2011 11:42 AM

Fast forward a bit:

One of Bailey's students (or maybe just someone who has followed this story) googleover thes "fucksaw" and purchases one online. He tries it out on his willing (or not so willing) partner. The partner dies of a vaginal (or rectal) perforation with resulting sepsis. Relatives of partner sue the crap out of saw handler, Northwestern University and J. Michael Bailey.

The end.

I think the manufacturers of sex toys have excellent teams of lawyers who help them to craft some pretty complicated disclaimers for precisely this reason.

Even if that's not the case - is that the kind of legal system we ought to be supporting?

Om Kalthoum | March 4, 2011 10:09 PM

Well, speaking of legal system, what are the odds that some other outfit in Evanston could put on a for-pay sex show with, you know, real penetrative sex (with a saw!) not pretend sex, in front of a live audience of teenagers and not expect to get shut down and hauled off to the slammer. What part of any of that would be legal?

Anyway, call me old-fashioned, but as a woman I just have a major "this is degrading" feeling about Bailey's little porn show. You've got a 45 year old fully-clothed man penetrating a 25 year old woman with a fucking power saw. And the woman claims she gets off on exhibitionism, so that makes the students participants in the sex show, doesn't it? Now if it had been the guy taking it up the wazoo, compliments of the young woman, I might feel a little differently. But what was the chance we'd see that scenario? "Cutting edge research" my ass.

Nope. Not teenagers. University-level adults. But it is a school of sorts, so that perception is going to work against Bailey and Northwestern.

Om Kalthoum | March 5, 2011 8:24 PM

You know, like eightTEEN, nineTEEN. TEENagers. I'm sure there were some of them present. Certainly, the majority of the students in that class wouldn't be of legal age to enter a strip joint in Chicago.

The only prerequisite for the class was Psy 110, so that's what I'm basing my age claim on.

While you're technically right that 18 and 19 year olds are "teenagers", you're clouding the issue here. Making an appeal to the potential illegality of a sex show in front of teenagers implies two things -- first that there may have been under-18 folks making it illegal, and second that we have a "think of the children!" style responsibility to protect these teenagers from their own decision to participate in sexual education.

From a legality point of view, we have no reason to believe there were any minors present. The fact some of them can't buy alcohol (and thus can't enter strip clubs where alcohol is served) is irrelevant to the fact that they are legally adults (and can enter strip clubs where alcohol is not served, as rare as they might be). I don't know about the law in Illinois, but here in Oregon live sex shows are perfectly legal -- even more so when done for educational purposes.

From a morality point of view, there may be concerns of pressure from the professor, and given his history of abusing his power I wouldn't be surprised. However, I haven't heard of any of the students complaining, so I don't see any grounds anyone here would have to deny adults the right to participate in sexuality education. Suggesting that we need to protect them from their own choice to participate in this matter is extremely distasteful.

Om Kalthoum | March 6, 2011 11:59 AM

I'm not “implying” anything, and stating facts isn't “clouding” an issue to me. But now that you mention it, it isn't totally implausible that a student could have been under 18 years old, what with early admittance for really bright and prepared students. Given Bailey's tin ear for the appropriate note, that's one more possibility of something he just didn't think mattered.

But no, I wasn't implying that minors being present would have made the sex show illegal; I'm saying that on it's face it was illegal. I'm pretty sure that they don't allow your garden-variety strip clubs in Evanston, much less shows where men do women with fucksaws. All the nonsense about how it was supposedly spontaneous is immaterial to its legality.

“However, I haven't heard of any of the students complaining,”

Reminds me of the Commandant of the Marine Corps visiting assembled troops and asking for a show of hands about who thought Don't Ask Don't Tell should be repealed. How many of the pfc's or lance corporals do you think raised their hands?

Differences between intending to imply something and implying something aside, let me address the two points you just made here.

Someone *could* have been under 18. Given our lack of information, it is entirely possible. It's also possible that people under 18 are going to porn sites and clicking "Yes I am over 18" -- gasp! It's also possible that Bailey made out with the demo model after everyone went home. Or perhaps he even made took her home for a threesome with that hypothetical 17 year old. That does sound right up his alley.

My point is that we don't need to indict over things that we have no reason to believe are true. If it is true, I'm sure it will come to light with this new investigation. But until then, let's stick to what we know or have reason to believe.

And for your DADT example, there are concrete examples of DADT ruining people's lives. People aren't asked multiple times to consent to DADT before participating, and they don't have the option to stay in the military and not participate in DADT.

What harm is caused by viewing sex other than *potentially* making people uncomfortable? Again, it's entirely possible someone gets dragged to a strip club by their friends and then feels uncomfortable or even gets triggered. The same thing could happen at a pride parade, a play party, an activist kiss in, or a non-explicit sex ed presentation. But I'm arguing that it's not our place to jump in to protect adults from themselves in regards to a decision to view sexual activity, which they might later regret.

What you're arguing - that people who consent to sexual activity *might* not be giving genuine consent free from social influence or pressure - could be applied to every adult involved in anything associated with sex. For consent to really be meaningful, 'yes's need to be respected as well as 'no's. It's entirely possible that my neighbor I overheard having rough sex last night did not provide genuine and pure consent -- but so long as she insists that she did consent, I've got no grounds to call the police to arrest her boyfriend. And I hope I'd get the same courtesy when I'm overheard having rough sex.

Why is the age difference between the two such a major point here and in some of the coverage? Lots of queers have intergenerational relationships - and we've rightly balked when straights have dismissed those as wrong or unhealthy. She's 25, not 15.

And it's not a saw - it's yes, a fucksaw, but you keep describing it like it was the instrument used by the killer in the film "Seven" (an actual penetrative drill).

And who's calling the specific act cutting-edge research?

How does exhibitionism make everyone a participant? What are your views on mimes? Or those people who paint themselves silver and stand absolutely still?

And these were not teenagers.

Let's not inflate the issue with misinformation.

Om Kalthoum | March 5, 2011 8:45 PM
And it's not a saw - it's yes, a fucksaw, but you keep describing it like it was the instrument used by the killer in the film "Seven" (an actual penetrative drill).
Hey, I own a reciprocating saw and a drill, okay? I know how they both work. And Bailey called it a fucksaw, so watcha talkin about? It is a dildo-equipped saw.

BTW, did you read Neal Steinberg in the Sun-Times where he riffed on what do people think of when they hear “Kent State”? Those of a certain age will always think “National Guard shooting” or that picture of the woman with her arms outstretched over the dead student.. He's saying that for some time to come when people think of Northwestern University, they'll think, “fucksaw.” lol Might be a little far fetched, but....

And who's calling the specific act cutting-edge research?
I should have said “leading edge.” From the initial defense of Bailey from the Northwestern PR guy:

"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," Cubbage said in a prepared statement. "The university supports the efforts of its faculty to further the advancement of knowledge."

And these were not teenagers.
Sez who? Plenty of them were. See my response to Mercedes above.

Tobi's addressed your point about age quite well. "At the leading edge of their disciplines" is not the same as describing the class itself as such.

Putting aside all the semantic carping: what, exactly, is your objection to such a class? That adults might actually learn something from a live exhibition of how sexuality works? So far, none of them have complained about being traumatised, they were all given multiple notices, etc.

Putting aside the issues with Bailey, what's the problem with such educational endeavours?

Everything I'm hearing so far sounds like a deeply conservative denunciation of the class: innocents were exposed (they're not), there's such a big difference between the ages of the people who gave the demonstration (why is that even important?), OMG, he used a fuckSAW (which uses the same mechanism, yes, but it's legally sold and is not contraband - used the wrong way, even a simple dildo could wreak havoc).

Putting aside the issues with Bailey, the arguments against the class sound like that of any average anti-sex conservative who thinks sexuality only comes along on our 21st birthdays and that sex toys are wrong and unnatural.

I think it's important to read the story in the Daily Northwestern as well as viewing Bailey's well-worded response to the issue (rather than relying on the sensationalized story as reported by Fox News). I think that the central issue here of intellectual freedom should stand on its own merit regardless of any controversial viewpoints or opinions previously espoused by the academic in question.

One of the major problems that I have with the Fox News story is the belief that in any intellectual exercise "[t]alking about it can show you just as much" as seeing/experiencing it first hand. Imagine learning about chemistry without ever watching or participating in a lab or having a doctor learn surgery from only watching videos. The content under question went with the lecture and there is something that can be learned in interactive environments that are beyond what can be learned in a video.

The one question of concern (besides whether this would constitute a public versus private venue, which changes the legal ability for such a demonstration) that I think is being downplayed is the possible coerciveness of watching the demonstration-- and this is where I believe that Bailey exercised bad judgment on allowing the display to happen. It has been reported that (1) these presentations were optional and (2) the students were told exactly what was going to happen no less than three times before the live demonstration started and were welcome to leave (and many students chose to leave who did not want to witness this), but that does not mean it was not coercive to stay... because who wants to be "that person" who leaves because of potential discomfort-- whether informed or not, there certainly would have been pressure to stay, and this is why I think that there was bad judgment here to let the demonstration happen more or less "on the fly." The fact that there were no complaints afterwards by the nearly 100 students who did choose to stay is great and it shows the students as being mature and responsible for their decision to stay and participate-- but more than anything, I think that here Bailey is lucky that it turned out better than it could have.

Kathy Padilla | March 4, 2011 1:01 PM

I guess that would be a concern if anyone here said he should be prevented from his free speech rights.

Just as we shouldn't be prevented from criticizing what her said and how he said it.

Free speech doesn't just apply to academics - it doesn't mean he's free from criticism & it doesn't mean people criticizing him should automatically be assumed to have any particular view on the subject matter.

As far as controversial? Eh - boring - When he's working in that sex show - that's controversial.

Right now he's just the guy handing out flyers outside the peep show.

Om Kalthoum | March 4, 2011 12:32 PM

For those naifs like me who had previously been unaware of the true versatility of reciprocating saws:

looks a bit clumsy to me but, hey, ya know? wonder if it's a variable speed "tiger" saw, ouch! don't ya just love the touch and feel of raw steel and plastic????? proven research has demonstrated ___________ (fill in the blank). don't you think it is such a shame that, with all the budget cuts, product development research in this area has gone underfunded for so long? Someone ought to nominate J. Michael, who is known for his acumen in the area of sexology, a person who is able to scientifically recognize a gay man by his precise speech patterns,
to head either the National Institute of Health or the National Academy of Science. Bastions of narrow mindedness do not allow someone of his broad vision enough room to stretch out. The man needs a lot more latitude, don't you think?

Yes, the almighty phallus on a mighty macho power tool. My, oh my, how scientific.

I suppose a simple device such as this, w/out phallic implications, would have been no less boring than those other power point lectures:

"the man has the phallus, the woman is the phallus"

shove it up your lecan, jack. that is what I have to say to Bailey and his power tool.

I see the point about students staying on because of peer pressure. But how would that have been different if they had notice beforehand? Using this argument, you could just as easily say that students might feel coerced to show up regardless of how much notice they were given simply because they wouldn't want "to be 'that person'" etc. In which case, what is being argued here is that there is simply no way we can be sure that everyone who showed up did so voluntarily. In other words, it's impossible to seek consent - is that really where we'd like to go?

As controversial as Bailey is/has been, it's incumbent upon us to look at this case in itself and to remember that allowing him to become, potentially, a victim of the academic witch hunts that are so pervasive now would also potentially erase all other kinds of research on sexual orientation and sexuality.

"As controversial as Bailey is/has been, it's incumbent upon us to look at this case in itself and to remember that allowing him to become, potentially, a victim of the academic witch hunts that are so pervasive now would also potentially erase all other kinds of research on sexual orientation and sexuality."

How open minded of you. Oh, yes, certainly Bailey's elevated status in the ivory tower of academia exposes him to all sorts of victimization. Most definitely, Bailey has been victimized in the past by those who have attempted to silence him in his quest for scientific truth. Alice Dreger has written profusely about this.

This isn't the first time a scientist has been stifled by the narrow minded. I am reminded of of the wisdom often found among those so tragically misunderstood in these words:

“ For the most part, doctors and civil servants simply did their jobs. Some merely followed orders, others worked for the glory of science. ”

— Dr John Heller, Director of the Public Health Service's Division of Venereal Diseases[8]

Yes, J. Michael Bailey, once again working for "the glory of science". One would hope Northwestern might find a place for Jerry Springer on their faculty. One hopes dear Alice gets around to writing a defense of that oft misunderstood victim of rigid puritan values. In the immortal words of P T Barnum - you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but . . . it's a living.

You're probably right. However, I don't think our opinion is ultimately going to matter, since he's now offended the sensibilities of conservatives across the US. Northwest announced this morning that they're launching an investigation. Regardless of free speech and sex positivity issues on campus, I think we're seeing the final scandal unfold.

Sorry, this was supposed to be a reply to Yasmin

That may well be the case - that conservatives will seize on this - but I think it is, shall we say, ironic that it's people in the LGBTQ community who seem to be crowing about how Bailey might be taken down by the conservatives. I think the commenter above is too mired in her own sarcasm to see the larger point: nothing will prevent people from using such flimsy cases to bring an end to genuinely cutting-edge sexuality research.

I also don't think this is a case of free speech - something which few people understand but everyone claims to have an opinion about. It's about being really careful about what you wish for. There's little here to indicate that Bailey did anything unethical, and no one was hurt, and much of the fuss currently generated is by conservatives. The president of NWU has come out with a statement, yes, but the initial official statement made it clear that the university was not concerned. Which is to say: I see the president's statement coming after the fact, and as a pre-emptive attempt to make sure he and the university can distance themselves from Bailey in the event that matters get stickier.

None of this is to giggle at in joy, which is what I see in some quarters. Deirdre McCloskey, it ought to be remembered, is not a sex researcher but a relatively conservative economist. The people we ought to be asking are sex researchers (who may well disagree with me, but let's at least ask them).

" I think the commenter above is too mired in her own sarcasm to see the larger point: nothing will prevent people from using such flimsy cases to bring an end to genuinely cutting-edge sexuality research."

As a non-person I will not object to being referred to in the third person, which, when it comes to Bailey is the whole point. I am used to that. I think you erode any of the arguments you might wish to make regarding the complexities of free speech/censorship issues by allowing his subjective approach to studying human nature to be protected in the name of science. His sort of science starts with premises which are thinly veiled prejudices which he and his colleges try to tailor their observations to fit. Humans are more complex than free speech issues. They don't make very good research subjects. His side show presentations have a place in the theatre department, maybe. There isn't any science involved here. If there are health issues to promote, present them in a health class to demonstrate techniques for disease prevention. To present what he does, which is loaded with his subjective involvement and literal sensationalism as science and reach conclusions about a person's sexual nature that will have far reaching impact on the lives of many, many times with a very adverse impact, based on his prejudices and misunderstandings, should be met with nothing but with sarcasm and ridicule.

"To present what he does, which is loaded with his subjective involvement and literal sensationalism as science and reach conclusions about a person's sexual nature that will have far reaching impact on the lives of many, many times with a very adverse impact, based on his prejudices and misunderstandings, should be met with nothing but with sarcasm and ridicule."

And how does any of that fit this particular situation? This is exactly the point I'm making, which is being ignored here. Although, I'll note, others are making it as well. So I'll leave it at that.

I think I understand what you are saying. You are concerned with the precedent this particular incident would set if Bailey were censured for it. I don't think you are seeing it in the context others might view it in. What was the point of this demonstration? Was it to make a point about female sexuality, stereotypical female sexuality, at that. Bailey pursues his so called science from the point of view that female sexuality and male sexuality are completely distinct from each other and never the twain shall meet.

Disagree with him on that point and what is the answer you are likely to receive:

The Daily Northwestern, on his behalf, tried to frame his latest "controversy" this way:

"Today, Bailey covers a wide variety of subjects ranging from transvestites to human biology, all in an effort to, as he puts it, "teach the truth," "

"Since his first introduction into the world of Freudian psychology, Bailey has tried to adhere to more scientific standards, noting that he is "first of all a scientist." "

" "I was attacked," Bailey recalls, with a tremble in his voice. "People tried to get me fired. I was attacked by transsexuals, some of whom did not … like the theory that I wrote about." "

"Bailey once again lifts his eyes from his fixed gaze on the table. "I teach the truth — as I understand it," he repeats. "And the truth — as I understand it — sometimes conflicts with people's common, everyday assumptions. That is controversial … but necessary."

Bailey understands the truth, the objective truth? It reminds of the bumper sticker I saw on a pick-up truck the other day that said the truth is not relative.

So, what was the purpose of his demonstration, performed after class? Wasn't it a demonstration of his understanding about the "truth" of female sexuality? I don't think there is academic merit to this demonstration. Of course Bailey's argument would be:

"And the truth — as I understand it — sometimes conflicts with people's common, everyday assumptions. That is controversial … but necessary."

This is simply another case of Bailey doing what he always does, defending the validity of his work by claiming he is being attacked by narrow minded philistines who could never possibly understand.

He is closely involved with a cadre of sex researchers who belong to the NICHD Network on Psycho Sexual differentiation. He is one of the main forces trying to permanently etch into the minds of the public, with his populist approach to sexuality, the distortion that sex is a completely dimorphic phenomenon in an attempt to erase the existence of intersex and transsexualism from the public consciousness.

The after class demonstration IS presented as science. That is his justification and the justification used by the school newspaper. What Bailey promotes is not lighthearted. In this case it is sugar coated disinformation based on distortions of a truth designed to perpetuate prejudices about sex dimorphism the public does not have the time to take to understand. I think you would have to adjust your notions about sexist dimorphic assumptions and reductionist essentialism to understand. The quotes I included above are some of the worst paternalistic arrogance you are likely to hear from someone who is characterized as a liberal - what he says is true because he knows and you don't. The reason he knows is because of his objective empirical observations? How could this incident where so many are rushing to his defense be evidence of that?

Betty Dodson's work is easily accessible. There are diagrams available detailing the structures of the vulva. You don't have to be a wizard to understand it. I understand the differences between a neo-vulva and the statistical ideal. I don't need Bailey's fucking demonstrations to know the difference. I don't think he helps by trying to promote the notion that every woman functions uniformly. How would he know? Why is he the go to expert? He's a jerk pure and simple. I would say keep him on until this incident blows over. Keep him on indefinitely for all I care. How is he not an embarrassment to Northwestern? How does he reflect on the reliability of Alice Dreger's insights before her incites? She actually did some very good work before she got involved with the Chicago Consortium on the Management of Intersex.

You're referring to a February interview with him, and I'm not sure what bearing it has on this situation.

It's interesting that you don't have these objections to Tobi's comment below, where she essentially says the same thing:

"Because if he goes out this way, then no one gets to have sex in a classroom anymore. And I believe there are plenty of situations where that has plenty of educational merit."

It really is as simple as that.

I'm not trying to sell you a used car, Yasmin.

Tobi said, if he goes out this way. What way? Why should his outrageous stunts have any reflection on what Tobi and others like her are doing?

If the tenure of others in academia will be adversely affected were he to be censured or dismissed, I agree, that would be a problem. It isn't mine, however. I don't know how anyone can take him seriously. It's too bad for Northwestern in my opinion. Their law school has done a lot of good work for the falsely accused.

Why are you so quick to defend Bailey?


I really have no interest in debating this with you since you've got your mind set on casting all of this solely in light of Bailey's past research.

I, like a great many people who denounce Bailey, have not actually read his work (I actually ask them, and they admit to it) , so I'm not taking a position on his work either way. But it's perfectly legitimate to warn against allowing Bailey to be taken down by conservatives for this demo - that has not caused any harm to anyone - when those very same people could then turn around and use the exact same rationales to shut all legitimate forms of research into sexuality.

Conservatives and the hysterics who aid them are not capable of distinguishing between legitimate form of research and its opposite. They have no interest in doing so. Go down their path and the very people whose research you praise will see sharp cutbacks or an end to their funding. That's the nature of these conservative tirades and their long-term effects on funding.

Northwestern, as a private university, may not see the immediate effects, but much of this work also happens at publicly funded organizations and universities. All this has a ripple effect when universities and other places get pre-emptively jittery about sponsoring events on sexuality/sex research. And, in fact, the fact that the NWU president has already made a censorious statement about Bailey's recent class does not bode well for future researchers looking at the same issues in similar or different ways at NWU or other private institutions. Take a look at Tobi's previous post on a university cancelling a paid appearance by a sex shop owner to see the full ramifications of all this.

Have a fabulous night.


You know it doesn't make any difference what I have to say. The guy is ridiculous. I think it is unfortunate for anyone who might be associated with him. I went to a lecture last year. Anne Fausto-Sterling was quoting from one of his research papers. How has someone like him gotten as far as he has? If you are talking about the work Meredith Chivers and even some of the work Lisa Diamond is doing based on plethysmography and standing on the shoulders of Kurt Freund while doing it, I think there ought to be a lot of questions raised. As long as anyone is doing the "courtship disorder" based research that Bailey and his crowd is focused on, I doubt funding is going to be much of a problem, particularly not in a conservative family values environment. Have you looked at the DSM V revisions where female sexual disorders are a concerned?

I hope you have a fabulous night, too. I should, obviously, have my attention focused elsewhere. I looked at this article and told myself not to get involved. There is too much of an emotional cost. Here I am wasting my time. It's almost midnight. You should read more about what Bailey has to say. He's written many papers. I have read a lot of what he has to say. His views on bi-sexuality are as telling as his views on transsexualism, male homosexuality, birth order, digit length, female sexuality, etc. A lot of what he does has serious implications. He has a wealth of data to back up his assertions. It goes way beyond fetishes and kink. Look at the way he approaches his work and how he has treated people. I watched Naomi Klein on YouTube last night speaking about the ranking of life. People like Bailey have been the darling of conservatives for a long time exactly because of the way he and people like him "rank human life". Think not The Man Who Would Be Queen. Think The Man Who Would Be King on his way over the Khyber Pass to conquest and glory. Those are Bailey's legs on the cover of his book.

I think that coercion is going to exist at some level regardless -- even the suggestion that the students attend this optional section can be considered coercive on the part of the professor.

I think the degree of coercion as it pertains to the judgment of the professor is worth considering. These sessions were after the class. If the students had been informed in the beginning, they could have walked out when 500 other students had left the 600 person class. This is a much different situation than not being told until later and being one of a few students walking out in front of the 100 remaining students.

But my main point was actually an agreement that no matter what your feelings are regarding his controversial research, it is imperative to look beyond those views and (1) evaluate if there is academic merit in what was presented to the class and (2) if so, support the right to intellectual freedom so he's not subjected to this kind of academic witch hunt that has begun.

Yay for coming up with a title so NSFW that I can't follow comments on it. :P

Kathy: exactly. I don't dispute that the students are mature enough for the content, although I do think that the decision to provide it should be made at a higher level than some attention-seeking professor.

Om: Definitely, there's a safety issue to think of.

Deirdre McCloskey nailed it in a comment in a follow-up article by the Tribune: "He is prepared to use people in any way to show how cool he is...."

He kinda sounds like Josef Mengele sure his work was contraversial and maybe he was a bit of a showoff but he was doing science. Josef Mengele was taken out maybe he wasn't caught but his work after was forever tainted.Baileys work is tainted also maybe not as bad as old Josef's but it still stinks. Everyone can be replaced and if science has some hypothesis to test involving live sex the show will still go on with or without him just hopefully in a more responsible way.

As much as I love seeing Bailey in trouble, I'm pretty dissapointed at how this is the thing he's getting in trouble for. Granted there are messed up dynamics (I hadn't heard the "spot the ho" game before, it sounds very similar to his "spot the gay" or "spot the tranny" activities in his lectures), but for the most part that's not what he's being criticized for.

I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with sexual activity as a part of adult oriented educational presentations on sexuality on a campus - the Safer Sex Sluts have been doing that forever. I was recently at a couple of workshops for Evergreen's porn week where they brought in queer porn stars and the workshops included a live demonstration of modifying and using a glove to give a trans man a blowjob, fisting, and strap on sex and I don't want to set up a precedent that that kind of stuff can't happen with an audience of consenting adults.

But mostly, I think Bailey should get in trouble for using his therapy patients experiences in his research without their consent, for providing/denying access to medical treatment based on whether or not a patient conforms to his research hypothesis, and of course for abusing his power of authority as a professor, therapist, and gatekeeper to have sex with his patients. If he gets away with all that and then gets canned for an after hours live demo of sexual activity, then our priorities are really messed up.

"But mostly, I think Bailey should get in trouble for using his therapy patients experiences in his research without their consent, for providing/denying access to medical treatment based on whether or not a patient conforms to his research hypothesis, and of course for abusing his power of authority as a professor, therapist, and gatekeeper to have sex with his patients."

You're right. The real perversion here is that he got little more than a wrist slap for all of the above. And therefore while there may be educational value in similar presentations, I'm not sure why Bailey deserves the benefit of the doubt here.

Well, it's like getting Al Capone for tax evasion: yes, it's a travesty of justice that he wasn't charged for the actual crimes he masterminded, but it's still a win that he ended up in prison no matter how trumped-up and trivial the charges were.

Perhaps so, and I would like to see this guy lose his power to hurt others. But I'm concerned the more apt analogy might be if you got Al Capone by overturning Lawrence v Texas and charging him with consensual sodomy.

Because if he goes out this way, then no one gets to have sex in a classroom anymore. And I believe there are plenty of situations where that has plenty of educational merit.

Well, this hasn't proceeded to the level of legislation, so as far as precedents go, it's not binding or likely to be that enduring. Provided this incident doesn't inspire legislators to write something to address such a situation.

That said, you're probably right. But let us have our cheap thrill. We don't get very many. :P

A further update (and not gloating about this, since this potentially gets into those lasting repercussions Tobi was talking about): an independent researcher from Oregon plans to file a complaint with the American Psychological Association. NU could lose its APA accreditation.

As another update, I heard that the reason why the presenters decided to give the demonstration was because in a previous class someone (perhaps Bailey, perhaps a previous presenter. I'm not sure) was arguing that it is impossible for a woman to orgasm from vaginal stimulation alone and that female ejaculation is a myth. Upon hearing that, these presenters said that was not true and a debate occured. With someone capable of demonstrating g-spot orgasm and female ejaculation present, and an all adult audience comfortable with explicit presentations, a demonstration seems like the best way to resolve that debate. The "fucksaw" was a tool in the presentation, not the focus of the presentation.

That sounds pretty damn educational to me.

Perhaps the higher scrutiny will bring Bailey's other unethical actions into the spotlight, but the presenters actions seem very reasonable in this context.

I suppose we can expect to read about this in the next issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Yes, the glory of science. I think I could learn more through reading what's on Craigslist, though. Check out "notes written by a guy for guys on how to perform cunnlingus". He must be one of Bailey's grad assistants. Can't spell very well but I guess it goes with the territory. If you Google "vaginal organism", it isn't difficult to see how controversial a subject it is. Would you consider Bailey's little experiment a "peer reviewed study". I'm wondering if he had a keg set up at the part . . . er, I mean demonstration.

Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross have a video on the subject called the myth of vaginal orgasm(and many others) but Bailey has a Ph.d., so I suppose his observations are more reliable. All in all, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence on the subject. I have my own experience to go by. From what I've read no one has got their story straight on the matter, except for Bailey. He knows a real woman when he sees one and they're all the same.

I have to ask myself, however, Tobi, why you think it is necessary to hitch your wagon to this guy's fate?

Om Kalthoum | March 7, 2011 9:21 AM

Lordy, I hope no one is calling this demo science research. For starters, can anyone prove the female subject even had an orgasm. Sorry, no.

No, no one is calling this research. Bailey's research is patently ridiculous and very much not science. And I'm beginning to doubt it was his decision to give the demonstration. It's starting to look like he invited the presenters and they made the decision.

As for the merits of the demonstration, sure, there could be ways of discussing or proving vaginal orgasm without it. But that's never the standard of a good presentation. Who see's a lecture and says "They wouldn't have lost much if they did it without powerpoint" or "the visual aids added a bunch but I could have got it without them, so they shouldn't have used them."

If some of the students disbelieve something is actually possible, and the presenter is capable of doing it, why not give a demonstrations? No one has given any actual reasons why this situation should be treated any different than math students who think a formula is un-solvable, medical students who think an arm can't be bent that way, or students who believe in any number of chemistry myths.

I have to ask myself, however, Tobi, why you think it is necessary to hitch your wagon to this guy's fate?

Believe me, if I thought I had a choice I would love not to be in this situation. But here's my personal stake: I do speaking engagements on university campuses. It's a part of my career path. And currently there seems to be a strong anti-sex sentiment towards speakers on campuses.

I wrote recently about Tristan Taormino's keynote presentation (at a sex conference nonetheless) due to her work in porn. Since I had been contacted to do a speaking engagement on trans issues on that campus and then was suddenly told they didn't have the money, the thought had crossed my mind that my cancellation might have been for the same reason.

I did however get to be a part of a week of sexuality education workshops specifically by queer porn stars, which actually did include live demonstrations of sexual activity. So you see, if the APA does take away Northwestern's accreditation, I imagine this other campus may suffer a similar fate. And I fear that my ability to give presentations on campuses might be affected. Even if I'm not going to include sex demos, the heightened fear around sex-positive speakers has already given us one prominent example of a speaker being cancelled due to ties to the porn industry regardless of the content of her presentation.

Ultimately, Bailey may have done something inappropriate - and I still would hope the catch him on it and strip him of his position - but the presentation and the use of explicit demonstration in adult sexuality education in general is what I'm defending. Half this story is "Bailey's a jerk," the other half is "sex has no place in a classroom." I certainly agree with the first, but I have to challenge the second.

I followed your post on the Taormino cancellation. I do not think it was right at all. Robin Mathy is the one who lodged the complaint with the APA. She has been around since the first controversy erupted after TMWWBQ. Personally, unless I read something convincing regarding her move, I think it will backfire. I am not for it, at all. Vaginal orgasm has been a controversial subject for a long time, however. I think Bailey has a lot of audacity if he is going to assert his demonstration is proof of its existence. Feminizing transsexual surgeries did not even include the use of homologous tissue back in the seventies when transsexual vaginoplasties were done, mainly because of male phallocentrism and the assumptions made by heterosexual male doctors that go along with it. The clitordectomies done on intersex women that robbed them of sensation and the ability to orgasm, from what I have read, were done under similar assumptions.

Bailey deals in stereotypes, subscribes to a dichotomous view of sex and sexuality, not homo/hetero but male/female as being universes apart. There is so much pressure on people to conform to stereotypes. The way things work for one person is not going to be true for another. Bailey's work mingles with a lot more than transsexualism. His work intermingles with many who have a long history of normalization. That is the context in which I see this. I don't think people need the burden of expectations based on his sensationalist antics.

I think it is unfortunate Robin Mathy is approaching this particular incident the way she is. Bailey is going to use the academic freedom angle. It is the way Bailey will choose to defend himself that will have an adverse affect on you. He puts people over a barrel by garnering popular support for frat party stunts like this and then turns it into a matter of "academic freedom". If you focus away from sex and openness about it and concentrate on the "science" part, I think anyone who takes the time to really study the situation would understand the underlying issue is not about sex at all. It's about bad science. No one has the freedom to promote scientific ideas without criticism. I think the sex positive aspects involved here are straw men.

I think you should be angry at him for making a travesty of yours and anyone else's good faith efforts to demonstrate the need for openness and directness about all aspects of the human body. Personally, I know I have suffered and been misinformed about my body since childhood because of repressive taboos about sex and expectations of normality. One finds taboos in the strangest places, even among long term post op transsexuals but that is another long story I can't get into right here.

Robin M. Mathy | March 11, 2011 6:17 AM

My complaint to the APA was not based upon morality. It was based upon ethics. Specifically, the sex in the class was impromptu and impulsive, and there is no scientific basis to believe that observing a female brought to orgasm in this setting has any legitimate pedagogical value. There are, in fact, far less intrusive methods of teaching and evidence-based ways of decreasing misguided negative reactions to human sexuality.

One may wish to note, as well, that I was around long, long before the issue with TMWWBQ book. I have been publishing books and scientific, peer-reviewed articles (some cited hundreds of times) since the 1980s. Heck, my first book (with Fred Whitam) has been on the New York Times list of Best Books in Print in Anthropology since 1986. However, I never sought fame or attention, and have done most of my research from outside academia. I chose to get involved in this issue because of the harm Bailey's sensationalist antics are doing to the profession of Psychology and to the science of human sexuality research.

I am not opposed to live sex in a classroom for pedagogical purposes per se. However, as with all forms of legitimate pedagogical practice, it requires some attention to the specific learning objects and goals and some reflection on measuring the effectiveness of the lessons. If it is important enough to teach (and in some cases it well may be--such as sex therapy or marriage and family therapy curricula), one has a responsibility to teach the content in the least intrusive, least restrictive manner possible. If it is "optional," one must provide alternative mechanisms of achieving the same learning objectives and goals in other venues. Some attention must be made to ensuring that the setting feels safe enough for all students to learn, which may require coordination with one's Chair, the Dean, university General Counsel, counseling and psychological services, processing of the content reflectively after class, etc.

My major objection to Bailey's position is directly related to his assertion that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with having sex with a research subject. The position is unethical. No matter how sex-positive we are, we have a responsibility to do no harm. Having sex with research subjects is unethical, and claiming that there is nothing wrong with it is faculty incorrect. There is nothing wrong with observing sex in a pedagogical milieu, provided that it is done for legitimate educational purposes to meet well delineated and clearly specified learning objectives and goals as presented in one's syllabus. Whether an elective or required course, an accrediting body has the right to know how a specific course relates to learning objectives and goals, and it has a right to ensure that the content actually taught in a course is aligned with the advertised course content. In this case, we need look no further than the fact that the sex act in class was impromptu, not planned. Let me be very clear that had it been planned and legitimately aligned with learning objectives and goals as part of an approved elective class in a Psychology curriculum approved by the Department, I would not have filed a complaint. Bailey's decision makes as little sense (to me, at least) as allowing a self-described "pothead" light up and inhale from a bong filled with marijuana during a class on substance abuse. If proposed on a whim, I would decline or at least defer until I made sure it was an effective way of teaching, what it was going to teach, whether there were less intrusive or restrictive ways of teaching, and whether there were reasonable alternatives for learning the essential content for students with impairments (e.g., recovering addicts).

Please do not think that my APA complaint against Bailey is about morality. It is not. Having been formally taught to teach in higher education and having worked as an administrator in higher education, I know what good education is. However popular Bailey may be, and no matter how stellar his course evaluations, my complaint comes down to a single searing question: Where is the science behind what he claims to have been teaching? Setting fire to a building may be a very effective and integral part of a fire fighter curriculum. If a Sociology instructor proposes letting a pyromaniac set fire to the lectern during class to demonstrate an incendiary device, I need to know how that relates to learning objectives and goals as described in the syllabus and approved by the department, the Dean, the Faculty Senate, University General Counsel, etc. I love fires! Nothing better that a good ol' weenie or marshmallow roast around a camp fire. It is not the fire I find objectionable, and I am going to give a self-described pyromaniac the human dignity and worth he or she deserves, avoiding references to terms such as "pyro" or "maniac," etc. Heck, I do not even care if they burn the lectern (providing they are going to replace it). That said, let us not confuse an impromptu fire-setting in a classroom with legitimate science or legitimate education just because a faculty member cannot think immediately of a good reason to say no. If nothing else, the fact that he could not immediately articulate good reasons to say yes, aligned with well delineated learning objectives and goals, was sufficient reason to say, at least, "Let me think about it," "Not now--maybe later," "Let's talk on break," etc.

On a purely personal note, please at least look at what I have published in PsycInfo or some other reliable database before telling others that I have been "around" only since Bailey's run-in with transsexuals over TMWWBQ. The assertion is neither true nor fair for someone who has published 4 books and over 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters over the course of a quarter century.

Peace & Joy,

Robin M. Mathy
MA Sociology, IU-Bloomington 1989)
MSW Clinical Research & Practice, University of Minnesota--Twin Cities, 2003)
MSt, University of Cambridge, 2004
MSc, University of Oxford, 2005

I'm curious Robin, if your main complaint has to do with him having sex with research patients (and defending it), can't you file a complaint about that? I would be rooting for a complaint like that.

And it's good to hear that you understand there's a place for live sex in a classroom, but I take offense to the assertion that the standards should be as strict as live drug use or setting a building on fire.

In my high school chemistry class, my teacher combined hydrogen and oxygen to make water -- it made a loud noise and got everyone's attention, but she *could* have made her point with a powerpoint or just explaining it. She also used liquid nitrogen to freeze a banana and shocked the classroom by demonstrating it's firmness by using it as a hammer to put a nail in a board. The physics teacher brought in a wine glass, filled it, and swung it in a circle to demonstrate "centrifugal force," and he certainly could have done it with water instead of wine. Certainly in each case there were less intrusive options.

I doubt either teacher sought principal approval for each and every demonstration they did. Leaving Bailey aside for a moment, if there is nothing inherently dangerous or harmful about sex (unlike drugs and buildings on fire), why should sex in a classroom be held to a different standard than the above? I could agree with setting a standard whereby an educator simply must be able to articulate the educational value, but I worry that the standard would be set so high that it is unrealistic that it ever could be met (such as approval from every sex-negative bureaucrat on campus).

I have, on occasion, shown clips from my porn films as a guest lecturer. I'm certainly capable of having a discussion about learning objectives, goals, and efficacy. And in at least one case the department chair knew about it and wished he didn't have a conflict preventing him from seeing my lecture. However, in most cases I imagine it would be very difficult to overcome the prejudices held by a dept chair, Dean, general counsel, etc. As a student, I spent over a year convincing those officials to adopt a trans inclusive non-discrimination policy. I can only imagine the time it would take to convince them to allow video footage of trans people engaging in sex would be so great that it would be unattainable for a guest speaker.

I was wrong.

Every so often, I have to say it. And after gloating for a bit that J. Michael Bailey had likely brought about his own downfall, it turned out that Tobi was absolutely right. Northwestern University announced that it would discontinue offering its Human Sexuality elective, but keeping Bailey on. Bailey: 4, Sex-positivity: 0.