Last week, the Daily Beast published a story about a human sexuality class at Northwestern, which, on a particular day, culminated in a woman and her “boyfriend bringing her to climax on stage, using a contraption called a ‘fucksaw.'”
The reaction was one of shock, indignation, and a fair amount of disgust littered in the comment sections of any publication — including ours — that discussed the story.
Some of my close friends went to Northwestern, and have talked about the class before.
It’s one of the university’s most in-demand courses, and Professor Bailey is a big name not only at the university, but within the field of human sexuality more broadly.
I knew that because of those two details (and the fact that those who signed up for the class and were lucky enough to score a seat, knew what they were in for) it was only a matter of time before someone energed with a retort to the Beast’s article.
It turns out that one of those retorts comes from a friend, Joe Bernstein, who explains at the AWL, why “That Northwestern “Human Sexuality” Class Was The Best Course I Ever Took.”
I won’t comment on the most recent demonstration. I wasn’t there. But the fact that these events have been going on for years leads me to believe that the current controversy has a lot more to do with the word “fucksaw” than anything else. These demonstrations clearly existed to expose a group of smart but sheltered young people to the staggering spectrum of human sexual behaviour. Sometimes people need to be shocked out of their assumptions.
It has barely been reported that the “fucksaw” demonstrators led an hour-long discussion after their shocking act. Can we extrapolate from this fact that some knowledge about human sexuality may have been gleaned?
He adds that one of the major shock points for those reading the Daily Beast or watching CNN, was that students are shelling out $40,000 to watch a couple on stage, armed with an unusually-named sex toy. But in Bailey’s class, Bernstein felt like he was the having the experience a student is supposed to have at college — that is, primarily, to be intellectually challenged.
It certainly wasn’t his presence that made Bailey the best professor I had at Northwestern. He lacked the performer’s intuition that the great lecturers have, the sense of drama, of revelation… But he taught major, contentious areas of sexuality research that we all have a stake in: about the genetic basis for sexual orientation; about the evolutionary costs and benefits of rape; about real, observable differences in male and female arousal patterns… Bailey assumed that we were not in the class just because it was about sex or, worse, to fulfil some silly course requirement. He assumed we were in class because we were as interested in the mysteries of human sexual experience as him.