May 1, 2008

More purveying of sex toys at institutions of higher learning.

After that Wisconsin Law School sex toy controversy, I happened to run across this story, from back in February, about a sex toy party at NYU (not the law school):
While the idea of "Sex Toy Bingo" may be both compelling and unsettling for many, the event, held Wednesday night in Kimmel, drew 22 students...

Janice Formichella, a Wagner '09 student and Passion Parties representative, hosted the event. Wearing a shirt that said "Vaginas are coming!," Formichella called out the provocative Bingo words and educated attendees about everything from adult toy storage to the hazards of sugary body powder....

Only one prize was specifically designed for men - "Gigi," the masturbation sleeve - yet the male turnout surprised organizers and female attendees. Six men took part, and three won coveted prizes.
The male turnout surprised organizers... because... why? (And why is the product called "Gigi"? Is "Lolita" too pedophilic?)
The final two prizes - a Magic Bullet and Flashlight and a Jelly Osaki vibrator - were claimed in a tie between CAS sophomore Ryan Stechler and a female student who refused to be named. While many of the girls left talking about their disappointing luck, they also came away with newfound know-how about the Passion Parties inventory.
Eh. What does this story say about whether the event at Wisconsin was a promotion of commercial products?

(More about the enterprise of sex toy parties here.)

57 comments:

George said...

Young women are leading the way in tearing down sexual taboos in North America, where teenagers are having more sex at a younger age than their parents and grandparents...
according to a landmark new report by researchers at California's San Diego State University.

Between 1943 and 1999, the age of first intercourse dropped to 15 from 19 for females, while the percentage of sexually active young women rose to 47 percent from just 13 percent in 1943, according to the study that appears in the most recent issue of the Review of General Psychology.

--

Girls who have sex at a young age relative to the norms of their peers experience a significant increase in depression, while those who have sex “on time” or later than the majority of their peers do not experience significant effects.

Girls are most vulnerable to increases in depression if their first sexual encounter occurs in a relationship that is lacking emotional commitment. Young girls are especially prone to experience the effects of this.

(Am. J. of Sociology, 2007)

Trooper York said...

Gigi

There's a toy that I need to forget
I'm a prisoner by this phone
I can't think of anything else
That sweet space won't leave me alone
There's a toy that I need to forget
There's nothing in it for me, can't you see?
I gotta get it out of my life -
And concentrate on me

(Chorus:)
Gigi, I gotta stop thinkin' of you
I gotta stop thinkin' about you
Gigi, I gotta stop thinkin' of you
I gotta stop thinkin' about you
Gigi, I gotta stop thinkin' of you
I gotta stop thinkin' about you
Gigi, I gotta stop thinkin' of you
I gotta stop thinkin' abou-ou-ou-ou...
I can't make it, oh can't take it
I can't make it, oh, oh
I can't make, oh can't take it
I can't make it, oh, oh, WAA--YEA

You know I dream about it every night
I think about it everyday
It puts up such a terrible fight
I can't make it go away
There's a toy that I need to forget
But her squeak is all I hear
It keeps me so pre-occupied
Like a fly buzzin' in my ear

(Brave Combo)

Freder Frederson said...

What does this story say about whether the event at Wisconsin was a promotion of commercial products?

So that's how you're going to play it? You weren't objecting to the images of "those things", but the tupperware party aspect of it.

vbspurs said...

I've been going to the wrong parties.

Michael_H said...

"What does this story say about whether the event at Wisconsin was a promotion of commercial products?"

Of course the event at UW was a commercial event. The toys were provided by a store that...uh...sells them.

And they must sell very, very many sex toys. Why do you think Ray-O-Vac has its headquarters in Madison?

JohnAnnArbor said...

It's just so CRASS.

Freder Frederson said...

a Magic Bullet and Flashlight

Okay, I don't want to sound like a prude. I know what a Magic Bullet is, but honestly, what is the flashlight for?

Pogo said...

Sometims you have to find the Magic Bullet ...um... when it ...um...is hard to find.

So I have been told.

Titan said...

You typed it wrong. It's "Fleshlight"

Try Google.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Try Google.

But not at work.

Ann Althouse said...

Freder: "So that's how you're going to play it? You weren't objecting to the images of "those things", but the tupperware party aspect of it."

Read the post again, and you'll see that's the way my law school approached it.

Titan said...

Ann,

But in your comments yesterday you seemed to defend the action on the grounds that the poster depicted penises.

I don't have a problem with the "no selling things" argument, but you seemed to go beyond that and add "plus, no pictures of these things."

Or did I read your comment wrong? Here it is again:

The fact that dildos are legal is irrelevant.

Think of it from another perspective. What if a men's rights group put up a poster that had pictures of these things on it and it was an invitation to a lecture about masculinity. The women would say it created a hostile environment.

This is similar to the recent Amanda Marcotte flap, where feminists just didn't see what was outrageous about images because they believed in their cause and they were using the images in support of it.

Get some perspective. You need a rule that you would apply in a viewpoint neutral way. Are you women who put up those signs ready to accept dildo-decorated signs for the lecture on masculinity?

Ann Althouse said...

Yes, that was an angle of mine that I was interested in. The question I've asked here is "What does this story say about whether the event at Wisconsin was a promotion of commercial products?" Freder thinks he's caught me in some contradiction. He hasn't. That's all.

Ann Althouse said...

I haven't spun it one way and then another. There were two things I talked about in the previous post, one of which is relevant here.

Joe said...

Without someone named Dickey involved, this is now just boring.

Freder Frederson said...

Read the post again, and you'll see that's the way my law school approached it.

But what concerned you most, as opposed to your law school, was the disgusting images. Although as we learned later, having penises on your coffin doesn't bother you in the least.

Trooper York said...

"Although as we learned later, having penises on your coffin doesn't bother you in the least."

Well that's better than having tears on your pillow.

Michael_H said...

"....having penises on your coffin doesn't bother you in the least."

It should bother you. Those #@^* IRS agents can ruin a funeral.

C said...

NYU LAW School hosts an annual sex toy event. In fact, the organizer of the UW event got the idea from a NYU Law Student she met at the LSRJ National Conference.

LAW STUDENTS FOR REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE

Welcome

Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ) is a student-led, student-driven national non-profit network of law students and lawyers committed to fostering the next wave of legal experts for the reproductive justice movement. The NYU chapter of LSRJ (then known as Law Students for Choice) was started in the 2004-2005 school year by five NYU law students who were dissatisfied by the lack of any student group at the law school solely committed to the preservation and defense of reproductive freedom in the United States and abroad.

The national organization and the NYU chapter changed the name to Law Students for Reproductive Justice in 2007. Reproductive justice connotes collective efforts to address and overcome the roots of reproductive oppression, while constructing legally tenable, realistically accessible avenues for informed, consensual, unobstructed decision making about education, sex, contraception, sterilization, abortion, procreation, birth, and parenting.

NYU LSRJ holds many events throughout the year, including:

Speaker series about a variety of reproductive justice issues

Careers in Choice brownbag lunches/networking opportunities

Escorting at local Planned Parenthood clinics

Condoms & Kisses, which offers safe sex supplies

Events co-hosted with the Med Students for Choice from schools in New York City


Annual Sex Toy Party, co-sponsored with OUTLaw

Ann Althouse said...

I think that posting graphic sex pictures in a school or workplace is a problem under the law of sexual harassment. It troubles me that women's groups think their point of view earns them special treatment.

Photos of sex toys that represent detached, erect penises are obviously different from classic, high art representations of the entire human form. Those toys represent nothing but sex, decontextualized sex. I don't think that should be openly displayed in a school or workplace.

And I might add that presenting these items as "toys" should be questioned in the same way that Joe Camel was questioned: It seems to be marketing something to children that you wouldn't dare directly aim at children.

Pogo said...

I don't want them aimed at me, either.

NTTAWWT.

C said...

"Photos of sex toys that represent detached, erect penises are obviously different from classic, high art representations of the entire human form."

Let's hope Ann will always be around to let us know the difference between "acceptable" and "unacceptable." Who needs free speech when we have such an expert here?

Trooper York said...

Ann Althouse said...

Actually, I did think about dildos at one point

Titan said...

Ah, but this is where I was disagreeing with you. I agree that "posting graphic sex pictures in a school or workplace is a problem" but I don't agree that these pictures are "graphic sex pictures." They're just dildos, and not even lifelike ones. I think you're letting your knowledge of what the object does color your view of the "graphicness" of the picture. In fact, you're pretty explicit about that:

Photos of sex toys that represent detached, erect penises are obviously different from classic, high art representations of the entire human form. Those toys represent nothing but sex, decontextualized sex.

First problem with that is the poster itself. The students for "Reproductive Justice" believe that the things they do with their bodies are up to them. Why do you think the Reproductive Justice groups have these sex toy parties? They think it corresponds with their political message. They think it represents some sort of freedom, something a bit more than sex, decontextualized sex.

Second, there are lots of objects that do gross things, but I don't think that makes the objects, standing alone, gross. Breast pumps freak me out a bit, and enemas are on sale at the drug store.

I might agree with you on some level, but I think intent is important because everything is sex-related to someone. (trust me) The group had a political message about sexual freedom that wasn't designed to intimidate anyone. I'm not even sure what hypothetical person was supposed to be harassed by it. I just don't have a problem with it.

Pogo said...

It's only permissible if women do it, however.

If men put up such pictures regarding women, it'd be "clear" harrassment.

a political message about sexual freedom that wasn't designed to intimidate anyone

And what if it does intimidate? Then what?

Titan said...

"And what if it does intimidate? Then what?"

Then a judge will say that the intimidation has to be reasonable.

Joe said...

And I might add that presenting these items as "toys" should be questioned in the same way that Joe Camel was questioned: It seems to be marketing something to children that you wouldn't dare directly aim at children.

No, this shouldn't be questioned and neither should have been Joe Camel. The notion that anything a child my find amusing or attractive must either be marketed at them or a problem is idiotic as is the notion that a "toy" is, by definition, something of primary interest only to a child.

What's next, questioning whether using the word "party" is appropriate since children like parties and therefore it must seem to be marketing something to them?

Trooper York said...

Well there is the Sponge Bob Square Pants elastic yellow pinapple vulva. From under the sea. That's kinka scary.

Trooper York said...

Kinka is a combination of kinky and kinda that I just came up with because I can't spell when I type too fast. Sorry teacher.

Joe said...

I'm not into sex toys, but the suggestion that "[t]hose toys represent nothing but sex, decontextualized sex" is ridiculous and sounds like the ravings of an over-intellectualized prude. What the hell is decontextualized sex anyway? I assume it's any sex you don't like.

Trooper York said...

" What the hell is decontextualized sex anyway?"

That's sex that is out of context. You have to hear the whole quote to understand the context. When she says "Ohh Baby..Ohh Baby...Ohh
Baby give it to me hard," you have to hear the second part where she says "Thank you governor leave the $4000 on the dresser after you wipe off."

P. Rich said...

Self-annointed victim groups and grouplets believe they have the right to make their own rules. Anyone who objects automatically becomes part of that huge, vague, ever-present collection of "oppressors" who are by definition the rationale for the act in the first place. In some contexts, this kind of "thinking" would be recognized as clinically insane.

Joe said...

"What the hell is decontextualized sex anyway?"

Perhaps its sex without an orgasm.

Or sex without pleasure.

Or sex without sex.

Ann Althouse said...

joe: "I'm not into sex toys, but the suggestion that "[t]hose toys represent nothing but sex, decontextualized sex" is ridiculous and sounds like the ravings of an over-intellectualized prude. What the hell is decontextualized sex anyway? I assume it's any sex you don't like."

I think a school is allowed to have rules barring posters that graphically depict genitalia. That's not unclear, so don't pretend it is. I think feminists ought to care about keeping a school free of visual sexual intrusions like this and ought to want to avoid posters like this, quite aside from what the rules can and do require.

I'm not saying people never use sex toys in a meaningful context, only that the posters graphically depict the erect penis out of context. It's decontextualized because there is nothing but the depiction of a representation of a penis. I don't care what people do with these things. I care about maintaining a school environment that diverse individuals can share.

titan: "Second, there are lots of objects that do gross things, but I don't think that makes the objects, standing alone, gross."

"Gross" is your word. I have nothing against the underlying sexual practices. I think a school is entitled to have standards about what kinds of graphic images are posted in the hallways. What if a First Amendment club wanted to post hardcore pornography? I wouldn't object because sexual intercourse is "gross," but because pictures like that are an unfair intrusion on people in a shared environment.

Titan said...

Also, the numbers 6 and 9 can not appear on the same poster....

pictures like that are an unfair intrusion on people in a shared environment.

I'm still completely mystified as to who is being intruded upon. I mean, I get the case of the guy who has Jenna Jameson hung up in his cubicle. It sends the message that "women are sex objects". I don't see what message is being sent here.

What exactly is the rule you're proposing?

- No penii
- No pictures of things that really look like penii
- No pictures of things that perform (some) of the same functions of penii
- No pictures of things that are understood to have sexual symbolism
- No phallus shaped objects

A new poster wants to talk about lesbian reproductive rights and it contains a picture of a turkey baster. Harassment? (of who?)

vbspurs said...

You know why this penis story has legs, err, so to speak?

Because men are fascinated by women's dildos. What we do with it, how we get them, how it feels, etc.

If it were a story about male buttplugs, it would've died faster than Michael Richards' stand-up career.

Cheers,
Victoria

Synova said...

So...

How many of you arguing that we shouldn't be so gawd awful prudish about public postings of sex-toy pictures and what-all were just arguing about how terribly bad bad BAD it was that we sexualize teenagers?

Huh?

We don't sexualize teenagers. We sexualize LIFE. All of it. Everywhere. And only a prude would complain that posters with pictures of sex toys might not be appropriate for public posting.

Well, we can't have it both ways. If we absolutely must sexualize life so that it is not considered at all rude or unseemly to bring sex out into our public areas, then that's what we have. And those of us who have come to some sort of accomodation with regard to our underage daughters who live in this world scoff at you for *your* prudish behavior in refusing to accept that it is what it is.

Because, in the end, there IS NO child-adult difference of standards of public behavior. What is acceptable is acceptable. Period.

Now, *private* behavior can have differences of standards. Most certainly it can. What is appropriate for adults in private says nothing at all about what is appropriate for young people. Public behavior is public and anyone in the public is part of it.

I'm not saying "It's for the children" because public decency isn't any more or less for children than it is for adults.

Just don't whine when Miley conforms to public standards. They're the standards you endorse.

Trooper York said...

Listen Miley can play with all the dildos she wants when she gets to college. And after all law school is just chock full of dildos. But let her get out of middle school first. Those college kids are gonna have to get used to dildos. They will be working for one as soon as they graduate.

Trooper York said...

And who said we have to be consistent. This is the internet. We get to change our minds on every thread.

Joe said...

It's decontextualized because there is nothing but the depiction of a representation of a penis.

Sorry, but that's still intellectual silliness. Next thing you'll complain about is how a pictures of a food in and advertisement for shoes is decontextualized. This is academic bullshit at it's best.

Simply say that you don't want to see posters of dildos in public places because you find it inappropriate (or offensive or stupid or whatever, but can the PC speak.)

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

To make clear, the problem with the "decontectualized" argument is that it's entirely disingenuous. Nobody sees pictures of dildos on the wall of a law school and thinks, "I'm offended because that's decontectualized."

Moreover, it's a specious argument since it implies that if would be acceptable if contectualize by including a woman holding the dildo and/or about to insert into her vagina. I'm sure few people would find that acceptable in that setting.

Frankly, the posters should be banned just because they're so juvenile. (And if they are any indication of the intellectual capacity of law students, God help us all.)

Ms. Feasance said...

I was just scrolling past this post, and originally, I thought the headline said, "More purveying of sex toys at institutions of higher leering." It cracked me right up.

knoxwhirled said...

synova you've convinced me

MORE DILDOS

Ann Althouse said...

Joe, if you're so sure that no one thinks such things then surely you can't agree with Titan that a picture of a naked porn actress "sends the message that "women are sex objects.""

Except Titan himself thinks the pictures of dildos send no message! Why does a picture of a nude woman create a hostile environment, but a picture of a representation of a penis detached from any human being does not? I think there is less of an argument that a photograph of a real and whole human being, nude, is objectifying than taking a human being's sexual organ, showing it apart from the person who might bring a mind and feeling to sexuality, and depicting it as a mechanized device. What if a man had a picture of a robotic and headless sex doll? That would be more objectifying than a nude, would it not?

Freder Frederson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

"Why are you trying to apply workplace standards to a law school..."

It's certainly my workplace.

Ann Althouse said...

The idea that students have a constitutional right to post any non-obscene images in the hallways of the law school is absurd. Mere photographs of nudes aren't obscene, for example. Your theory would require us to allow such things. Think through what you are proposing.

Freder Frederson said...

So why did you remove my post? I'm curious.

So are you saying that it would be unacceptable to display the Roman sarcophagus at UW law school. I know at my school (a public university in Illinois) we had nudes displayed in the library.

Freder Frederson said...

The idea that students have a constitutional right to post any non-obscene images in the hallways of the law school is absurd.

Really? Why?

Ann Althouse said...

Freder, I deleted your comment because it was insulting. If you want to discuss a legal question or anything else here, you will have to do it respectfully or I will delete you. People can figure out what you said from my answer, but I've had it with you. I have never made an assertion about whether the posters violed statutory law, but only whether the constitution is violated by controlling what is posted in the law school. Your idea that only things meeting the constitutional standard of obscenity my be removed from public hallways is wrong, and you can argue that you are right, but you'll have to do it minus the invective.

Freder Frederson said...

Freder, I deleted your comment because it was insulting.

So, when do I get to the ability to delete your comments when you call me an asshole and a jerk? That is kind of insulting too, you know.

And you are wrong about not making an assertion about statutory law. "Hostile environment" only comes into play in eeo law. It has nothing to do with constitutional law.

And while the law school is indeed your workplace, the students are not your employees or employer. You can no more complain about them creating a hostile environment than a clerk at 7/11 can complain that the fact that the store sells Penthouse or Playboy creates a hostile work environment, or a waitress at Hooters could complain about customers leering at her creates a hostile work environment.

Ann Althouse said...

"So, when do I get to the ability to delete your comments when you call me an asshole and a jerk? That is kind of insulting too, you know."

It's my blog, and you are subject to my standards. You don't get to tell me what I can say. I get to delete you whenever I please. Don't like it? Get your own blog. You need to figure out what I accept here and deal with it. Period.

"And you are wrong about not making an assertion about statutory law. "Hostile environment" only comes into play in eeo law. It has nothing to do with constitutional law."

A school can have standards about what it thinks is an unacceptable environment. It might want an environment that is good and welcoming for diverse students, and those standards might go beyond what the statutory law requires. This constitutional issue isn't what the constitution REQUIRES the school to restrict but what it PERMITS the school to restrict.

"And while the law school is indeed your workplace, the students are not your employees or employer. You can no more complain about them creating a hostile environment than a clerk at 7/11 can complain that the fact that the store sells Penthouse or Playboy creates a hostile work environment, or a waitress at Hooters could complain about customers leering at her creates a hostile work environment."

You are missing the point stated above. Moreover, there are claims against employers when the employer isn't acting to control customers. You think a school wouldn't be subject to a claim of harassment if it allowed posters full of racial insults to remain on the hallway walls? If students plastered photos of nudes everywhere?

Freder Frederson said...

It might want an environment that is good and welcoming for diverse students, and those standards might go beyond what the statutory law requires. This constitutional issue isn't what the constitution REQUIRES the school to restrict but what it PERMITS the school to restrict.

And you still haven't presented a coherent standard of under what standard the poster you find so objectionable (the ban on commercial advertisements might work, but as we have already established, that is not what you found objectionable) could be prohibited in public areas at a public university but not the sarcophagus. Obviously, the sarcophagus is fine art and although you haven't explicitly said so, apparently you wouldn't have a problem with that if it was displayed in the halls of UW's law school. How about the sculpture of the Spirit of Justice that John Ashcroft found so objectionable? Would that play in Madison?

You found depictions of sex aids (describing them as "toys" is apparently beyond the pale too) objectionable. I am just trying to figure out where you would draw the line in Madison. Classical art is okay but any discussion or depiction of sexuality in health or scientific context is not allowable? Should the TV stations in Madison be prohibited from carrying Viagra commercials?

I really find it hard to believe that the UW art collection doesn't contain several nudes and they are displayed frequently in public areas. Wisconsites are not that prudish.

Joe said...

Why does a picture of a nude woman create a hostile environment, but a picture of a representation of a penis detached from any human being does not?

In short, because the latter is so juvenile. Frankly, I think the entire notion of a "hostile" environment is largely an artificial construct for angry people to bully others.

My argument was entirely about the silliness of over intellectualizing the entire situation. Every time I hear the word "decontectualize" I know a bullshit argument is happening--it's a word being thrown around to add more importance to an viewpoint.

I don't think pictures of naked women objectify them any more than pictures of anyone steals their souls. I mean seriously, if that's the case then pictures of me as a cute baby objectified me. (I've always been puzzled by the notion that it's okay to use your mind to become wealthy or to use your body in sport to become wealthy, but that for beautiful people to exploit their asset is somehow bad.)

All that aside, a law school's function is to teach the law, not act as advertising space for sex toys parties or strip clubs or even, say, a softball league. Even absent pictures of dildos, the fliers in question were tacky and I see no problem with the school saying they don't need that crap on their walls. (If this were the ONLY way to communicate, I would back off somewhat from this position, but it isn't.)

knoxwhirled said...

Wow if you really want to light freder up post about dildos

ryan said...

Love that this article is getting around the internet. The more people see that I won a dildo at Sex Toy Bingo the better. Now when I google myself, me winning a dildo is like the fourth result! Awesome!