I’m going to start this off with a nice little summary from the good people at Chicagoist:
A noted psychology professor at Northwestern who’s no stranger to controversy or unique teaching practices is being defended by NU officials and students for an after-class demonstration of a marital aid last week. John Michael Bailey, who teaches Human Sexuality at NU, staged an explicit demonstration of a device called a “fucksaw” … to [a] group of 120 students. The operator of the device repeatedly brought a non-student woman to orgasm with the fucksaw.
Question 1: Fucksaw?
Question 2: “Marital aid”?
Question 3: I graduated in 2003. Is it too late to transfer to NU?
The, um, extracurricular activity was optional. It took place after class and the material discussed won’t show up on any exam. Students were warned several times in advance what they were about to see.
And, as Bailey wrote in an email to students after news of the demonstration swept campus, his past events included:
[A] panel of gay men speaking about their sex lives, a transsexual performer, two convicted sex offenders, an expert in female sexual health and sexual pleasure, a plastic surgeon, a swinging couple, and the February 21 panel led by Ken MelvoinJBerg, on “networking for kinky people.”
So, Bailey has found a good balance here. He expands the minds of the eager, young scholars entrusted to his care without forcing anyone to participate in something that would make them uncomfortable. And good on NU administration for supporting academic freedom.
But this isn’t the first time Bailey has stirred up controversy. As David Ehrenstein at The Advocate explained:
Bailey resigned as chairman of the [NU] psychology department in October 2004 after being investigated in 2003 for his research practices when formal complaints were filed against him by several transgender women who declared they were his unwitting subjects. Part of that research was disseminated in Bailey’s book The Man Who Would Be Queen—which became something of a scandal in and of itself when its nomination for a 2003 Lambda Literary Award in transgender studies was withdrawn.
Bailey’s book stirred up debates about the homophobia that permeates academia, decades after the professional psychological and psychiatric communities officially declared that homosexuality shouldn’t be considered abnormal—in any way.
And it makes you wonder, just how much of that academic homophobia gets transmitted out to the students under the label “science”—all while his after-school antics make him look hip, progressive, liberal, and open-minded.
So, Bailey once again makes the news. Expect Fox News to host expert panels on how liberal professors on their taxpayer-funded (socialist!) universities are corrupting the minds of the eager, young scholars entrusted to their care—while not realizing that professors like Bailey are more effective at spreading Fox News’ anti-gay agenda than some of today’s worst anti-gay preachers.
Looks like I won’t be transferring to NU after all.
—Photo Mister Asta/Flickr