A pair of couples: Ken and Sunny, Jim and Faith walked into Professor Bailey’s Northwestern University class to find a giant vagina projected onto the screen. “It was some sort of BBC health film. There was a 20 foot high labia, this is what’s preceding me” says Ken, who was with several bags of fetish gear in tote. The four were invited to give an anecdotal lecture about BDSM and fetish.
Between them, there is a lot of personal experience to share. “ I do the Chicago sex tour, I ran a dungeon in Detroit, I was involved with porn, I’ve done everything from modeling latex at IML to being the jizz mopper after a bear party. You could not even imagine what that amount of hair, condoms and crisco looks like” says Ken. In class they would talk as resources on BDSM, polyamory and fetishes.
The mile high vagina video ended on “we aren’t sure if the female G-spot orgasm exists…” and in a moment of spontaneity, the infamous fucksaw decision was made. They would give the class a real life example of the g-spot orgasm with Faith on a fucksaw toy.
“Recipe for Sex Media Scandal: Take one part non-normative sex, mix with one part normative institution, add a heaping of sexually anxious culture and stir well with personal indignation to taste” says sex educator, Jessi Fisher. Yet, the “outrage” has seemed to be created by the media. Ken says that to his knowledge, no parents came forward, and as far as they know only two students (who weren’t in the class) complained.
The story ran it’s course. “The Sun Time article positioned this as a demonstration of female orgasm, which is not a complete story. They were not comfortable making the distinction between clitoral and g-spot vaginal orgasm in print, so the article itself is misleading” says Jim, who manned the fucksaw. “This is the censorship that prevents information from being really passed around. The way this has been handled by the media has encouraged me even more to think demonstrations like this are necessary.”
Bailey too has defended the lecture, saying that it was educational. Before Faith’s clothes were removed, the four gave an hour and a half-long presentation with a Q & A. When Faith laid down a towel and took of her clothes, students were offered plently of chances to leave. “We put a condom on the toy and lubricated it, while Ken explained what we were doing. I used the device to stimulate Faith to a number of g-spot orgasms” says Jim.
Whether or not live sex demonstrations should be a part of sex education is a debated topic in itself. “In what way does seeing a live sex act foster intellectual development?” asks Fisher. “Simply looking at something in the world or having a conversation does not mean you become educated. Students brought their own sexual stereotypes, assumptions and anxieties with them. Watching a live demo and Q&A is not guaranteed to change their preexisting sexual paradigms.”
But this shift is what Ken tries for in his Chicago sex tours and lectures. “The first thing I do in every sex tour is an ice breaker where we say our name and what gets us hot. It shows that there are so many different opinions in one small group– this person likes guys with big shoulders, this one likes to be choked.”
While fielding questions from the students, Sunny sensed a similar opening-up. “At first the students assumed that we were irresponsible and hadn’t thought a lot about this. That we do it high and drunk. We had to explain it’s totally the opposite.” The kids then asked questions like: how do you fit this into your normal life? Do you get jealous when you see your partner with someone else? Do you guys ever just get in bed and have normal sex? “Its like yeah, most the time we just have sex! But I could see their brains working to fit this into the mold of normal life” says Sunny.
Sexologist Dr.Carol Queen who works with Good Vibrations sees value in live sex at the University level, as long as there is consent: “This allowed them to observe real sexual functioning. I am guessing the demo involved live sexual communication and negotiation between the two — maybe the most valuable angle of all. There is a bias that sex doesn’t need to be taught — that it is “natural”. Sex ed, to these folks, is health based if not abstinence-only. Pleasure and function based sex ed that includes demos falls far from their diagrams of ‘where the ovaries are’.”
As the story runs the media course, a theme emerges in the comments: the belief that there is something wrong with BDSM inherently. “This is what we dispelled in class, we are not all emotionally scarred, we didn’t get molested as children. It’s a shame that majority jumps to those conclusions” says Sunny. Psychology has in part, furthered this belief. Just as homosexuality was long listed in the DSM (the psychiatry bible of mental disorders) BDSM has been slow to totally disappear, still listed as an illness is it causes significant distress.
“There is a serious movement among therapists to get these forms of sexual play out of the DSM. It will definitely happen, we just don’t know when. So many of the sex-related “illnesses” were not originally codified with consent in mind. And of course when one’s sexuality is not accepted or reflected in society, it will cause distress!” says Queen.
Among a few sexologists debating on twitter, I saw the words “Howard Stern school of sex-ed” thrown around. Live sex is an intense experience and not something we explore in our culture–of course the shock of the fucksaw remains.
“When you are seeing something live, there is visual and audio but also olfactory aspects. Experiencing in more than two senses brings the information to the brain in a way that no other could. It will also be cemented in a differently just reading in a book or seeing a video” says Ken.
It’s a fair guess that in this class of about 600, most were seeing live sex for the first and perhaps only time. “We knew that it would be a first for a lot of people. Ken was on the lookout for consent–people turning away. I was really impressed with the thoughtfulness and professionalism of the students. If the media were half as respectful and thoughtful as those students, this would still be a non-issue. ” says Jim.
If anything, the students were truly left with a new understanding of something they could have only previously imagined. And, Ken and Sunny agree, in addition to being educational, the demo was an amazingly hot. Shouldn’t learning be allowed a little sexiness?