Stormy whether

The headline read: “Center of NU sex storm.”

Attention-getting, for sure, though a verb would have been nice.

NU, in this case, is Northwestern University, a Big Ten school on the shores of Lake Michigan a little north of Chicago. “Sex” and “university” appearing in the same sentence…when has that ever happened before?

Well, context matters, and the referred-to storm comes, as it were, after two human sexuality class guest speakers wanted to demonstrate to dozens of students the workings of a…what? “Bedroom accessory?” “Personal massager?” How many euphemisms are there for “dildo attached to a reciprocating saw”?

At any rate, the professor initially considered putting the ixnay on these ijinkshay, but “just a little while earlier he’d been thinking about the knee-jerk negativity so many people have about sex, about sex research,” Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich wrote. “As a man who believes everything is worth studying, he had to wonder why he was hesitating.”

“I could not come up with a good reason,” he said afterward, “so I said OK.”

Now, as someone who’s taught college courses, I could give this guy lots of good reasons to hesitate all the way to the point of just saying no. Seriously, even though many of the young ladies in my journalism writing classes thought it was a good idea to show up looking like Barbara Hershey as Mary Magdalene in The Last Temptation of Christ, I was the one who had to pass a course on sexual harassment every semester.

Still, the prof has a point. Sex is everywhere. The Internet. Movies. Magazines. Popular songs. Posters. Direct mail. TV shows. TV ads. TV magazines. TV movies. Movies on demand on TV. It’s in the malls. It lines the highways. It’s even on born-again Christian radio. Really—have you ever listened to one of those stations? Those people don’t seem to think about anything but sex—and no wonder, given how much of it there is in the Bible.

Why is sex everywhere? Because it sells, sure. But it sells because we like it. It’s fascinating. It makes us feel good. No matter how much we kick and scream and protest and fight, we loves us some sex.

It’s apparently even all right in a college classroom…as long as it’s not actually happening.

Maybe that’s the problem down there in Evanston, Illinois, in the heart of “the real America.” We don’t mind sex going public, as long as it’s confined to pixels and paper. But start baring actual skin, and you’ve got a problem.

And maybe that’s not a bad thing. What would we fantasize about if there were no taboos?

I don’t remember where I heard it, but I nonetheless remember hearing this tidbit o’ wisdom: “No one should object to your sexual fantasies; your sexual fantasies are where you can do things you wouldn’t do for real.”

Think about it: In that class there was, Schmich wrote, “A man. A woman. A dildo on the base of a power saw.” Was it really necessary to turn the thing on?

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