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EVANSTON, Illinois, March 7, 2011 ( – Human sexuality professor, John Michael Bailey of Northwestern University in Illinois, has issued an apology for his recent after-class live sex demonstration that has made news in recent weeks.  In the same breath, however, Bailey defended the presentation, saying it “had no harmful effect on anyone.”


The February 21 optional after-class presentation in Bailey’s human sexuality class involved a nude woman being stimulated with a sex toy.  Bailey said he regularly hosts optional presentations after class, which have included a “panel of gay men speaking about their sex lives,” “a transsexual performer,” and “two convicted sex offenders.”

Professor Bailey issued a statement on Saturday saying he regretted “allowing the controversial after class demonstration.”  “I regret the effect that this has had on Northwestern University’s reputation, and I regret upsetting so many people in this particular manner. I apologize,” wrote Bailey. 

“As I have noted elsewhere, the demonstration was unplanned and occurred because I made a quick decision to allow it. I should not have done so. In the 18 years I have taught the course, nothing like the demonstration at issue has occurred, and I will allow nothing like it to happen again.”

However, he went on to defend the demonstration as “relevant to a topic relevant to my course,” saying it had “no harmful effect on anyone.”  He said he saw “absolutely no moral harm in what happened.” 

Bailey maintained that those believing there was a “serious problem” with the demonstration “failed” to “illuminate reasoning,” but conveyed only “disapproval” for the presentation.  “If I were grading the arguments I have seen against what occurred,” continued Bailey, “most would earn an ‘F’. Offense and anger are not arguments.”

President Morton Schapiro of Northwestern University issued a statement last week expressing his concern and assuring that an investigation into the events was underway.  “I am troubled and disappointed by what occurred,” said Schapiro.  “Many members of the Northwestern community are disturbed by what took place on our campus. So am I.” 

“Although the incident took place in an after-class session that students were not required to attend and students were advised in advance, several times, of the explicit nature of the activity, I feel it represented extremely poor judgment on the part of our faculty member,” continued President Schapiro. “I simply do not believe this was appropriate, necessary or in keeping with Northwestern University’s academic mission.”

In an earlier statement, Professor Bailey expressed his own concern, not for the content of the demonstration, but for the controversy it might stir.  “I certainly had no hesitation inviting [the presenters],” he wrote.  When the presenters asked permission to do the explicit demonstration, Bailey recounts he “hesitated only briefly before saying ‘yes’.”

“My hesitation,” he explained, “concerned the likelihood that many people would find this inappropriate. My decision to say ‘yes’ reflected my inability to come up with a legitimate reason why students should not be able to watch such a demonstration.”

Contact information:

President Morton Schapiro
2-130 Rebecca Crown Center
633 Clark Street
Evanston, Illinois 60208
Phone: 847-491-7456
Email: [email protected]