Northwestern Professor Under Fire For Live Sex Demonstration in Class

Things appear to have changed a bit since I attended Northwestern. Prof. John Michael Bailey gave his students an optional demonstration as part of his “Human Sexuality” class with a naked couple having sex in his class.

Over 100 students watched as a man used a sex toy on a woman in the class. The woman told reporters that she agreed to speak with the students as a member of the “fetish community” but was happy to serve as the focus of a demonstration in the aptly named Ryan Family Auditorium.

If there is any consistency in students, I hope at least one student ask “is this going to be on the test?”

It might also be a good idea for faculty to try not to follow Professor Bailey on the schedule for the classroom.

In fairness to the professor, he has roughly 600 students and did not require attendance at the demonstration. Moreover, Professor Bailey did not originate the idea.

However, a student was quoted as saying that “We were told we were going to have some people talk to us about the fetish world and kink.”

The University stood by its professor as a matter of academic freedom. Alan K. Cubbage, vice president for University Relations, stated “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.”

The class was narrated by Ken Melvoin-Berg, who was paid $300 to $500 for his appearance. Payments for such displays could raise legal issues, particularly if the woman was paid. There is no indication that Faith Knoll, 25, was paid. Indeed the change to a live demonstration was not unwelcomed by Knoll or her partner Jim Marcus, 45: Knoll’s particular fetish is “being in front of people, having the attention and being used.” She used the live demonstration to prove that female orgasm is real — a point that one would think could be accepted without a live demonstration.

Bailey insists that his students are not “fragile children” but grown ups studying sexuality.

For my part, I just feel entirely deflated. I have been nervous about introducing new handouts in class on legal doctrines in tort. Now I feel much less of a rebel.

Source: Sun-Times

Jonathan Turley

62 thoughts on “Northwestern Professor Under Fire For Live Sex Demonstration in Class

  1. This was done so much better in Monte Python’s “The Meaning of Life”

    Oh wait – this was an actual class? At a real university? YIKES!

  2. I have quite a few family members that attended Northwestern. Its reputation is a very traditional one but it must have changed since we toured the school five years ago. Will ask my sister what she has heard about this as she lives nearby.

  3. “Jim Marcus said he and his fiancé planned to show off the sex act at first, but decided to do so after the class watched a video on female orgasm that he thought was unrealistic. They already had brought the equipment to show as part of the discussion.

    “It seems like a human sexuality class is a smart place to dispel some of the mistakes that we saw in the video,” said Marcus, a musician 8) who also teaches sex education.

    He said the demonstration with his fiancé, Faith Kroll, was different from a live sex show or pornography. …… “I hope (Bailey) doesn’t take a lot of flak for this, but I suspect he will,” Marcus said.” (Chicago Tribune … thanks SwM)

    =======================================

    Only 100 of the class’s 600 students were present … I feel a little bit sorry for the prof who is taking the heat for the improv of his guests. But, other than that, what’s the big deal?

  4. @buckeye: no apparently the problem is that the woman might have been paid. Not a problem for the man being paid, though.

  5. Bailey is notorious for using questionable research methods. He did a book on homosexuality which raised some hypotheses well at odds with established research. Much of his own “background work” on the book involved interviews with trangendered people (not the same as gay, obviously) who were not told that their conversations would wind up in a book, often with enough identifying information to “out” them. As a result, he resigned as Chair of the Psychology Department, but was able to retain his tenured faculty position. Somehow, he managed to become Chair of what once was a a highly respected psychology department at Northwestern. Over time, it’s lost it’s big names, which may explain why he wound up as Chair.

    Bailey also does schlocky survey work based on convenience samples–because he does not collect identifiers, he’s able to use oral informed consent, except it isn’t very “informed”. I called him on this when I encountered him doing one of these surveys at an event in DC.

    He is coy about his own sexuality and its difficult to know if he’s gay, bi, or merely a heterosexual voyeur. Clearly, he like to court notoriety. he’s come out advocating things like parents choosing the sexual orientation of their children. The demo clearly raises some questions—misrepresentation of what was to occur; acts that could be demonstrated by video or in a private way through , e.g., downloading reserved or otherwise protected media. Basically, the guy is slob and an unethical researcher. he should have been turned out years ago.

  6. That weekend at the college
    didn’t turn out as you planned;
    The things that pass for knowledge,
    I can’t understand.

    ~ Steely Dan

    I think Professor Bailey needs a sabbatical. Maybe at a Motel 6.

  7. For my part, I just feel entirely deflated. I have been nervous about introducing new handouts in class on legal doctrines in tort. Now I feel much less of a rebel.

    LOL… yes, the Northwestern prof does kind of raise the bar!

  8. Mespo: That weekend at the college
    didn’t turn out as you planned;
    The things that pass for knowledge,
    I can’t understand.

    ~ Steely Dan

    I think Professor Bailey needs a sabbatical. Maybe at a Motel 6.”

    ====

    Mespo’s unconscious at work: While commenting on a live sex demonstration using a ‘sex toy’, Mespo quotes ‘Steely Dan’

    “Being fans of Beat Generation literature, Fagen and Becker named the band after “Steely Dan III from Yokohama”, a strap-on dildo referred to in the William S. Burroughs novel The Naked Lunch.”

  9. “Stamford Liberal 1, March 3, 2011 at 10:10 am

    I suspect future attendance will increase …”

    Took the words out of my mouth,LOL!!

  10. Bob,Esq.
    1, March 3, 2011 at 10:45 am
    Mespo: That weekend at the college
    didn’t turn out as you planned;
    The things that pass for knowledge,
    I can’t understand.

    ~ Steely Dan

    I think Professor Bailey needs a sabbatical. Maybe at a Motel 6.”

    ====

    Mespo’s unconscious at work: While commenting on a live sex demonstration using a ‘sex toy’, Mespo quotes ‘Steely Dan’

    “Being fans of Beat Generation literature, Fagen and Becker named the band after “Steely Dan III from Yokohama”, a strap-on dildo referred to in the William S. Burroughs novel The Naked Lunch.”

    ==============================================

    The things one learns on this blog …

  11. Wow! that is one tough act to follow. Did the students who witnessed this “demonstration” get extra credit? And with this kind of demonsration, I am afraid to ask what the extra credit was!

  12. I knew I graduated too damn early and maybe should have expanded my options a little more so….. I wonder if I could have audited the course……

  13. Bob,

    Didn’t remember that. I think I should re-read my Burroughs. The breadth of knowledge on this site is amazing and fun.

    I think also that Rich has the right take on this guy, though i’ve got no real problem with the demonstration as long as the students were informed of what was to take place and had the option of abscence.

  14. I just found a list of the other courses Prof. Bailey teaches.

    Undergraduate Courses:
    – Fetishes for Freshmen
    – S & M for Sophomores
    – Bestiality for Beginners for Juniors
    – Ménage à Trois…and More for Seniors

    Graduate Courses:
    – Advanced Dominatrix Studies
    – Nascent Necrophilia

    And each course comes with its own X-rated syllabus!

    ;)

  15. Before they **cleaned up ** times square in New York,this was a 24/7 happening in time square adult theaters.The New York papers would rail about this stuff that was going on there.

    But like I always say the one who rails the most probably had front row seats.

  16. BTW:
    Still waiting for one of our State Representatives to get his due on the blawg for beating the computer.

    In “Jeopardy” contest, Rep. Rush Holt beats Watson, the IBM computer
    Published: Wednesday, March 02, 2011, 10:01 AM Updated: Wednesday, March 02, 2011, 10:07 AM
    By Hunterdon County Democrat

    Rush Holt
    In an exhibition “Jeopardy!” game in held Washington on Monday, Congressman Rush Holt faced IBM’s Watson computer — and won.
    Holt was on a team of five congressmen who competed against the computer. Although the team lost, Holt won his round against the machine, earning $8,600 to Watson’s $6,200 in the classic trivia game.

    http://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/index.ssf/2011/03/in_jeopardy_game_rep_rush_holt.html

    Since we are talking education:=)

  17. eniobob,

    Back in the day my friends and I would hope on MetroNorth and head to Times Square for the sheer joy it was – it was THE place for people watching. Then, TS was Disneyfied and took all the fun out of it.

  18. Bob,Esq.,

    “I think Professor Bailey needs a sabbatical. Maybe at a Motel 6.”

    LOL!

    Or maybe at Hotel California!

    *****

    Mike S.,

    “…i’ve got no real problem with the demonstration as long as the students were informed of what was to take place and had the option of abscence.’

    The students were not informed that there would be a live sex act demonstration. I will admit that I DO have a problem with a live sex act demonstration in a college auditorium.

    *****

    From the Sun-Times article:
    “The optional, non-credit demo followed psychology Prof. John Michael Bailey’s sexuality class. Nearly 600 students are in Bailey’s class this quarter, and most didn’t stick around for the after-class show, which featured four members of Chicago’s fetish community describing “BDSM,” or bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism.

    “I didn’t expect to see a live sex show,” said Justin Smith, 21, a senior economics and political science major who was in the after-class session. “We were told we were going to have some people talk to us about the fetish world and kink.”

  19. “I didn’t expect to see a live sex show,” said Justin Smith, 21, a senior economics and political science major who was in the after-class session. “We were told we were going to have some people talk to us about the fetish world and kink.”

    Well there Justin, you’ve just had a fine example of actions speaking stickier, er, wetter, um, louder than words.

    And to think that, unlike most places you’d pay to see something like that, law school doesn’t have (an official) two drink minimum policy.

  20. Would you refer to the person professing this subject as Head Master or Top Phallic….. or do you think that this is too much to insert in the syllabus…

    Then my mind wonders how would you protect a syllabus….. Would it be plastic coated…..

    How would you go about sharing class notes if you miss for some reason….. Would missing a period be cause for concern to a student taking the class…..

    How would performance be measured….. If you missed a written exam could you take an oral exam…..

  21. So rattling tables with your hand to get the kids’ attention gets you fired, but bringing in a couple to “rattle the table” (which is sure to get their attention) gets you defended on academic freedom grounds? I think I’d prefer teaching college over teaching high school, but at least those high school teachers have unions to fight for their rights, right? Oh, wait.

  22. The Northwestern U/Medill School of Journalism’s paper presents this in a much, much different light:

    http://www.dailynorthwestern.com/campus/class-sex-toy-demonstration-causes-controversy-1.2501746

    Not surprisingly, the probably better informed on-campus journalists present a far less sensationalistic report on the events than the for-profit commercial papers. This report makes it clear that this event was separate from class, not part of the grade or tests, that the people in the audience were repeatedly cautioned that there would be unusual content, and that about 20 people left before the demonstration.

  23. tom,

    Much of that information was included in the article that professor Turley used as a source.

    From the Sun-Times article:
    “The optional, non-credit demo followed psychology Prof. John Michael Bailey’s sexuality class. Nearly 600 students are in Bailey’s class this quarter, and most didn’t stick around for the after-class show, which featured four members of Chicago’s fetish community describing “BDSM,” or bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism.

    “I didn’t expect to see a live sex show,” said Justin Smith, 21, a senior economics and political science major who was in the after-class session. “We were told we were going to have some people talk to us about the fetish world and kink.”

    **********

    So watching the live sex show was an educational experience for the students? Then I’d guess that a teacher who taught a course on eating disorders could consider having students watch an individual binge and purge in front of them an educational experience too.

  24. tomdarch:

    “of his book “The Man Who Would Be Queen,” which explores male femininity and autogynephilia, a sexual fixation in which a man is sexually excited by the thought or image of himself as a female.”

    That must be one heavy read.

  25. Next week: sex fetishes including defecating in front of the students with finger-painting quiz.

    The guy is demented.

    And there is NO such things as academic freedom in government run schools. That is a fraud and deception or both. Every college or university that takes federal dollars is owned by the government and incapable of any kind of freedom, academic or not. This is government sponsored obscenity. Natch.

    The guy is sick and anyone who defends him is as well.

    Next month: field trip to Babylon demonstrating burning of live infants on Molech’s brazen altar. The squeamish need not attend. Real babies! Leftovers from Democratic Party sponsored abortion clinics. Make your reservations now!

    Hey. There’s an idea. Take the kiddies to an abortion clinic and show a real life experience of an infant born alive and left to die.

    What fun! What academic freedom! What boldness!

  26. Pardon Me?

    That would be under the syllabus title…..How Hard Gets You Going…. Viagra and other miracle remedies…. How not to sweet the small stuff…. What not to do a case study of The Life and Times of Charlie Sheen….

  27. “And there is NO such things as academic freedom in government run schools.”

    Wrong again Tootie, Northwestern U. is a privately run school and a damn good one.

  28. Listen, if I wanted to see people engaging in sexual activity….it SURE wouldn’t be THIS couple, I can tell you that! Ugh

  29. From Huffington Post (3/5/2011)
    J. Michael Bailey, Northwestern University Professor, Apologizes For Sex-Toy Demonstration
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/05/northwestern-professor-apologizes-sex-toy-demonstration_n_831885.html

    CHICAGO — A Northwestern University professor apologized Saturday for letting a couple demonstrate the use of a sex toy after one of his classes, but he said he still sees “absolutely no harm” in what happened.

    Psychology professor J. Michael Bailey said he regrets hurting Northwestern’s reputation and “upsetting so many people in this particular manner. I apologize.”

    The incident took place Feb. 21. After a class on human sexuality, Bailey invited students to stay for a discussion of sexual fetishes. He repeatedly warned that it would be graphic.

    The discussion included a woman who stripped and allowed her partner to use a sex toy on her.

    In a statement, Bailey said he had never before allowed something like that and would never allow it again.

    “During a time of financial crisis, war, and global warming, this story has been a top news story for more than two days,” Bailey said. “That this is so reveals a stark difference of opinion between people like me, who see absolutely no harm in what happened, and those who believe that it was profoundly wrong.”

    Initially, Northwestern defended the demonstration. Then President Morton Schapiro said he was troubled and disappointed by the incident and promised an investigation.

    Many alumni and parents have also condemned it.

    Bailey said critics have not made a compelling case. He said he would give them an “F” if he were grading their arguments.

    Offense and anger are not arguments,” he wrote. “But I remain open to hearing and reading good arguments.”

    About 100 students attended the after-class, optional seminar on fetishes.

    **********

    It sounds like a non-apology apology to me.

  30. “Next week: sex fetishes including defecating in front of the students with finger-painting quiz.”

    It is interesting that of all the fetishes there are to choose from as an example, you chose this one. I wonder why? Is it that it excites you?

    “The guy is sick and anyone who defends him is as well.”

    The professor may indeed be sick, but then so are you and the Fundamentalist ignoramuses, like you, that would establish a Taliban Theocracy in our country. When it comes to American sexual sickness, there is nothing that beats the Fundamentalist right. The only “sins” you get horrified about are the ones of the flesh. You condemn abortion as murder, yet have no qualms about the “Death Penalty,” murdering civilians in unneeded wars, killing people through inadequate health care and allowing people to be shelterless and starve in our rich country.
    Hypocrisy thy name is tootie and her friends.

    How’s your abstinence movement working out? Your side wars against birth control and sex education? Your lame defense of the values of marriage? Not going very well with STD’s and unwanted pregnancies running rampant through the Bible Belt and a divorce rate higher then in more liberal states. I know, because you used it before, you blame it on the black people, but the facts show it is as high or higher among the white bible Belt population. You all talk a good game, but there is only emptiness behind the curtain.

    Perhaps if you Know Nothings had some sex education and a respect for the autonomy of women, you wouldn’t have so much trouble in bed. The desire of the Southern husband is a “man cave” where he can guzzle beer with his buddies, watch football and NASCAR and keep away from his woman and children. When his urges do overcome him it is ‘wham, bam, thankyou maam” and then to sleep in his drunken stupor. Leaving a wife unsatisfied emotionally and sexually. Now this might well be stereotypical, but that is only payback for the incorrect and stupid stereotypes of others you display here.

    “Hey. There’s an idea. Take the kiddies to an abortion clinic and show a real life experience of an infant born alive and left to die.”

    I’ve a better idea than that which would actually be more helpful. Take them to the underfunded orphanages that provide lousy care for the children born of your stupidity. Let them see foster care in action as it creates angry, antisocial children, whom the seemingly
    concerned anti-abortionists and the politicians they elect, care nothing about. Finally, observe the household of an 18 year old single mother as she struggles to support her child, while despairing at a future that holds little promise. Now in the latter case are there women who have overcome this? Yes of course and have done very well in their lives, I’ve known many.
    Most, however, are overwhelmed by poverty at ages when they should be creating a life for themselves.

    The shame is because of people like you, tender of feelings for the fetus yet murderous in thought when they are born, who would ban sex education (except for the stupidity known as abstinence)birth control information and birth control itself, the abortion rate has risen. That is you fault morally tootie and the fault of those you support. It’s highly possible that your afterlife might not be as you see it, for the sins you all are committing now, might haunt you on Judgment Day.

  31. You can definitely see your enthusiasm in the paintings you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. Always follow your heart. “Man is the measure of all things.” by Protagoras.

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