Many of you may have heard about the recent event that took place on February 21st at Northwestern University as part of a human sexuality class that has many people up in arms. Having been following the story closely myself for a few reasons, I can't help but feel dismayed at the outrage and negative feedback this has generated.
I first heard about this story on Twitter from local people I follow, some of whom are actually friends of those involved in the demonstration. And because it was a local story, I started reading the articles and watching the news stories being broadcast. And it became extremely evident that the media was on some sort of witch hunt, with their accusations of lewd live sex acts and deviancy and vulgar behavior. For those not fully informed, it wouldn't have seemed wrong to join in the witch hunt. But that's when I saw this WTTW interview and realized just how far off the mark most of the major media is. Instead of taking this opportunity to educate readers and viewers about the real intent behind he demonstration, it's become a rant about some kind of perverted act of exhibitionism, most specifically aimed at those active in the kink community.
The thing is, we're all adults, or at least we should be acting like it. And one of the things you do when you are an adult is to find out the truth, perhaps do a little research, and not go off on a tangent after the first blurb you read or see. Because these days, I don't know about you, I really don't trust most of what I see on television. Even once respected news programs have become sensationalized and money-hungry gossip rags who talk more about Charlie Sheen and #tigerblood than they do about the real problems we face in our country.
What bothered me about the Northwestern story is the references being made to "porn", and the fact that many people are disturbed by the fact that the four individuals that participated in the demonstration are involved in Chicago's kink community. True, the word "kink" drums up all kinds of lurid images of weird, unnatural, scary sexual acts that make people feel uncomfortable at best, but usually generate a stronger - more negative - reaction. I won't lie. I do get that. Believe me, I have had my own strong thoughts on the subject over the last several months, but I've also educated myself quite a bit since then and discovered that truly, the majority of us are kinky on some level, whether it's something they've known all their lives or ahem it's a more recent discovery. And my belief is, as long as you are being smart, safe, using protection and not involving kids, animals or doing anything truly nonconsensual, I don't care if you wear an actual monkey suit when you do it (truly, no FurCon pun intended).
I mean really, would it have truly made a significant difference if the demonstrators had been dressed in their best church attire while preaching the gospel and insisting this is God's will? That would be rather hypocritical (although damn funny!) Besides, some of the kinky people I do know are extremely intelligent, interesting, successful, more opened-minded and accepting of others, the kind of people I actually want to meet, and you'd be fortunate to count them as your friends. And guess what? They really are just like anybody else, so let's stop focusing on their sex lives and focus more on the message that this demonstration was actually trying to send: one that was about celebrating female sexuality and dispelling some myths about female orgasm that are very alive and thriving today. Hell, as a woman I thought it was fantastic that this demonstration took place. And we all have something to learn, whether we're 19 or 39 or 99. I say bring it on.
Now I understand and respect that most people don't want to broadcast their sex lives and talk about explicit details with their closest friends much less in an open forum of several hundred people, but this class was built around the principles of sharing ideas, engaging in frank discussions and looking all all areas of sexuality, from swingers to BDSM to the sexual practices of different cultures, and the intent was to open up people's minds and prove to them that there are ways women can enjoy orgasms that they may have never thought were possible before. I'm all for that! It's a learning experience for men just as much as for women, and I am proud of the students, and anyone else, who supports the demonstrators because they know that the intention was not to shed a bad light on the university in any way. In fact I believe the reason this even was brought to the attention of the media was due to the complaints of students and parents that weren't even in attendance and had no idea what was going on. Shame on them for turning what was supposed to be an educational, positive experience into an embarrassing and out of control game of "telephone". At this point, I shouldn't be surprised anymore how the media tends to turn topics like this into an eye-rolling Beavis & Butthead spectacle.
So I did send messages of support to two of the individuals involved, and quickly received replies back from both of them. I mention this because I wanted to share that they were both gracious and lovely, and more interested in educating others about sex and having open dialogue with other like-minded individuals than they were in making a name for for themselves and creating scandals. The last I'd read, some of them may be in serious danger of losing their jobs due to the way this whole situation has just gotten so widespread. I think that's a shame because THEY. DID. NOTHING. WRONG. But once again, the media and small-minded people are attacking, out for blood. I am ashamed of living in a country where sensationalism is more important than the truth. Go back to watching fucked-up Charlie Sheen, people. I for one would rather find out more about those G-spot orgasms.
Some related links:
Neil Steinberg's comments
Jim Marcus' rebuttal