Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Hey, here's an issue I actually know something about! It seems that Dennis Dailey, KU sex prof, has gotten blasted for showing porno vids and talking nasty as part of a KU class! Here's the file of stories from the Lawrence Journal-World on the case.

I took Dailey's "Human Sexuality in Everyday Life" course in fall term 1986, I think; this is the course that is under fire. The photo of him from the Urinal-World looks exactly like he did more than fifteen years ago. Dailey is a charismatic speaker and has virtually no tabooes. He told our class that he was willing to discuss any question relating to human sexuality except for "What causes homosexuality?", on the ground that the motivation behind asking that question was the desire to "cure" homosexuality. My attitude was, "OK, Dennis, if that's true then why do we ask 'What causes life?'? Do we want to "cure" life?" As you can probably tell from just that, Dailey is a paragon of political correctness.

I do not remember any specific cases of Dailey's speaking approvingly of incest or of pedophilia. I do know he brought up the sexuality of children, which is quite frankly something that exists, as part of his lecture on sex throughout the human life span. He's really big on that, especially on old people's sexuality, and he emphasizes that there is no such thing as a sexless person, which is true.

What I remember his main emphasis being on, though, was AIDS, which was a big deal back then, the dread disease that killed everyone who got it. (Well, it's still a big deal if you get it and can't afford the pills.) Dailey, to his credit, didn't go into a frenzy of panic and tell everyone to join a monastery; he was, instead, a major condom advocate, which turned out to be the right answer in the long term--that and avoiding wild promiscuity, which Dennis did not advise us to do.

He is very pro-sex; he believes that sex is at the bottom of everything. I think the guy's obsessed with it, I really do. Yeah, yeah, he's a sex professor, that's his field, but I always thought he was just a little bit creepy. He used to enjoy hearing personal-experience stories, I remember that; anyway, the guy goes on and on about how everyone should be sexually happy and not have any nasty old hang-ups that might get in the way.

Most of the course is really pretty reasonable, straightforward facts and advice, along with a healthy dose of feel-good pop psychology. We did see some, uh, video presentations. There was one on how gay men had sex, and there was one on how lesbians had sex, and there was one on masturbation that showed various techniques, and the like. None of it was commercially-produced porn; it was all, like, Masters and Johnson films or whatever.

What I question is not so much Dennis Dailey and his attitude toward sex; his class is very popular, three or four hundred students per term, and I imagine Dailey has done a lot more good than harm in the twenty-some-odd years he's been teaching that course. He's told seven hundred kids a year to basically feel good about sex, and that's pretty healthy.

My question is what the hell it's doing as an elective. It's hardcore sex education, that's all it is; it's high school sex ed taught by somebody who's dynamic and charismatic instead of your slowly-turning-red ninth grade bio teacher, with lots of pictures and stuff. It's widely known as a "blow-off" class, a guaranteed easy good grade, and so a lot of people use it to fill up one of their Social Science elective requirements. It should, frankly, not count toward a degree. It's just too easy a course. Dennis Dailey should be doing what Dr. Ruth did--he'd make a lot more money. All Dennis's class really is is thirty hours of Dr. Ruth lectures with neato films occasionally.

By the way, I got a B.

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