The Ethics of Sex in the Classroom

"All right, Professor, this time you've gone too far!"

Northwestern University Professor John Michael Bailey decided to enrich his course on Human Sexuality by having a man use a dildo to bring a naked woman to orgasm as his students watched. Did the professor do a live play-by-play of the encounter, like sportscaster  Howard Cosell in “Bananas”? We don’t know. (Yes, today is Woody Allen Film Allusion Day, and no, I don’t know why.) Not surprisingly, this caused quite a bit of controversy on campus, and at least one formal complaint was filed challenging the ethics of the exhibition.  Bailey defended the exhibition, which was voluntary (meaning, presumably, that it wouldn’t be covered on the exam—about a hundred students attended) by arguing that such  unconventional demonstration provide “useful examples and extensions of concepts students learn about in traditional academic ways.”  Northwestern president Morton Schapiro concluded that “I simply do not believe this was appropriate … or in keeping with Northwestern University’s academic mission,” and the college has assigned Bailey other courses while announcing that “Human Sexuality”  will not be offered in the coming academic year. Continue reading