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A controversial professor in Sociology gave a provocative talk in Trinity College last Thursday on ‘Why gay sex is better than straight sex’.
Professor Eric Gumby Anderson, who gave a similar talk at Glasgow University earlier this year, opened his lecture by stating: “My intention is to offend you, I’m going to cuss a lot and I’m going to break down all kinds of hegemonic structures. If you’re offended by discussions of anal sex, vaginal sex, rimming, cheating, having cum all over you face then you should probably leave.”
The lecture was hosted by Oxford University’s LGBTQ society and many members of the audience had been attracted by the deliberate title, which Anderson said was designed to “piss people off and get a big audience”.
Dr Anderson said the talk was intended to “empower people….to cast off conservative ‘Oxfordian’ beliefs”. During the two-hour lecture, topics covered ranged from anal sex, bestiality and incest to religion.
Anderson, a sociologist in the department of sports studies at the university of Winchester, came out of the ‘closet’ in 1993 as America’s first openly gay high school coach.
When it was suggested that Anderson is a sexual “predator”, he said “yeah” and laughed. Anderson claimed to have had had sex with “easily over a thousand people”. He said: “I like sex with 16, 17, 18 year old boys particularly, its getting harder for me to get them but I’m still finding them….I hope between the age of 43 and the time I die I can have sex with another thousand, that would be awesome, even if I have to buy them, of course, not a problem, you pay for all kinds of entertainment and pleasure.”
When asked whether he thought he had taken emotional or physical advantage of some of the thousand people he had slept with, Anderson replied that he thought that team sports were “more damaging” to adolescents than sex. He went on to claim: “The damage that’s caused by child molestation is socially constructed by the western world;” he contrasted this to other cultures where children engage in sexual activity with adults as a rite of passage.
He said that he and his boyfriend like to travel on cruise ships because “it’s like sex tourism, which is just amazing” and “I always screw the dancers”. He went on to say “we stop at a different port every night, go to a gay club every night and have sex with people….you don’t need to know their names”.
On the topic of religion, Anderson, an atheist, said: “Islam is a horrible, homophobic, awful, disgusting religion”, when asked by a member of the audience how he could tar the whole religion with the same brush, Anderson responded: “the whole religion is predicated on the inferiority of women”. He said that Christianity was: “the most disgusting religion in the history of mankind”. He called the Archbishop Rowan Williams an “arsehole”, “a total bigot” and “a fucking liar”.
Annis Stead, the president of the University LGBTQ society, acknowledged that Anderson’s comments had been controversial, she said: “We do understand that some people may have been offended by the talk…. As with any invited speaker, the LGBTQ society does not necessarily endorse his views. We would hope that audience members and the community at large recognise that Eric Anderson speaks only for himself and not for any wider conception of the lgbtq community.”
Katie Colliver, OUSU LGBTQ Officer said that Dr Anderson “perpetuates a false and dangerous stereotype with which the LGBTQ movement is rightly no longer associated”.
In response to criticism of his lecture, Anderson said: “I only advocate for willing sex between two people of legal age. When asked about the age of consent, I responded that I thought it was “about right.” I advocated for casual, consensual sex only.
“There was very little contestation of what I had to say, and a group of students joined me for drink after.”
One student who attended the lecture said: “He argued the topic well, I really enjoyed it. He dispelled lots of myths surrounding anal sex and I think such frank, open discussion is a positive thing.”
Anderson said he had been taken aback by the prevalence of homophobia amongst academic institutions: “The places I expected to be very open minded, like my prior university, the University of Bath, Jesus, they practically ran me out of town because they couldn’t stand my research”. The University of Bath declined to comment on his accusations.
Professor Eric Anderson’s lecture at Oxford’s LGBTQ Society last Thursday entitled “Why gay sex is better than straight sex,” was in some ways a stimulating discussion challenging sexual customs, but was arguably a demonstration of hypocrisy on a questionable moral footing.
Anderson’s thesis, which revolved around the need to challenge sexual norms and what society deems acceptable, is at first attractive and thought provoking. He claims: “We are still so controlled by the Victorian belief that sex is bad,” especially with regard to homosexuality. Anderson says he is tired of “hearing people say that gays and lesbians are just as good as straights because they never ever say heterosexuals are just as good as gays”.
The fact that the male act of masturbation is in some ways an act of homosexual sex and that “heterosexual men are being robbed of the joys of anal sex”, continues to challenge our views of sex and is unquestionably a thought-provoking standpoint towards heterosexuality and monogamy.
Anderson’s academic arguments did not mask his flawed moral views. His argument rests on the belief that in essence everyone is the same as he is but is impinged from showing it because of social customs and archaic institutions. To claim “the damage caused by child molestation is socially constructed by the western world,” reeks of hypocrisy.
So whilst we must remain open to hearing unconventional views and challenging our entrenched stances on certain social issues, there can be little place in the LGBTQ cause to one so polemical and morally questionable. Sexual diversity and exploration can be great things but when expressed in a context to lambast other institutions, we must be wary of adopting such radical views.
Edmund Davison – the OxStu comment team