2 min

Masturbation video removed from Ottawa exhibit

Heritage minister recommends sci-tech museum censor educational work

A mirror fills the space where a video illustrating masturbation once was. Credit: Bradley Turcotte

An educational sex exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology has been edited after Heritage Minister James Moore deemed a video animation portraying masturbation too racy.

The display, titled Sex: A Tell-All Exhibition, was conceptualized by the Montréal Science Centre in 2010. Sex was previously exhibited unedited in Montreal and Regina, where it generated no controversy.
The interactive presentation addresses a variety of topics, including proper condom use, information on sexually transmitted infections and the reality of same-sex relationships. It also features floor-to-ceiling photos of nude models and a short film explaining orgasms.
Moore attended a preview of the exhibit along with school board and public health officials. It was the negative feedback the museum received after these previews that influenced the decision to remove the masturbation video and increase the age of admission from 12 to 16. Children under 16 are allowed entry if they are accompanied by a responsible adult.
Another source of contention is a question-and-answer board that addresses anal sex. The question asks participants why so many boys want to have anal sex and the answer informs listeners that anal sex isn’t for everybody, but they should try anal intercourse to see if it is for them.
Olivier Bouffard, media relations officer for the Museum of Science and Technology, says that although the museum removed the masturbation video and raised the required age for attendees, the question regarding anal sex will remain part of the exhibit despite calls for it to be removed.
“There were a certain number of people who made their views known, unfavourable views of this exhibition,” Bouffard says. “Judging and gaging by the reaction that we got, that’s why we made the decisions we made. The museum stands by those two decisions.”
Bouffard went on to say that the museum has received 100 complaints versus 60 compliments regarding the content of the exhibit. Attendance has doubled since the censorship was enacted.
When asked about this issue during a press conference for the 10th anniversary of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, MP Libby Davies criticized Moore’s suggestion to censor the exhibit.
“I think very simply that if science doesn’t include sex, then what other things are we going to exclude from science,” Davies said. “We’re talking about diversity here today, but certainly sex and science would go together just like any other topic in science. It seems transparently obvious that the scientific world includes sex; that’s what the museum is all about.”
Sex: A Tell-All Exhibition runs at the Museum of Science and Technology until January 2013. 

Follow Xtra reporter Bradley Turcotte on Twitter @XO_reporter.