A few months ago, Slate somehow managed to cajole the unlucky Virginia Heffernan into subjecting herself to an episode of HBO's "Real Sex" television series and then reporting her impressions to readers. Her staggering conclusion: the program's "soft sociology provide[s] an excuse to look at soft pornography". The article must have drawn a high hit count, though, because now they've sent Emily Nussbaum to check out New York's Museum of Sex. While Ms. Nussbaum is actually fairly upbeat, describing one exhibit as "an impressive combination of titillating and educational", she can't quite disguise the museum's real target demographic, admitting that the guards "have to shoo people away" from the hardcore stuff. Odds are that most of the patrons "transformed....into zombies" by the "lurid close-up genital pistons of a Dolores Del Rio porn film" don't share Nussbaum's gender.
Why, then, did Slate twice send a woman to do a man's job? Perhaps because an honest male assessment of this ever-so-slightly-dressed-up smut would have to be brutally frank about its producers' obvious goals in presenting it--and hence, by implication, about Slate's obvious goals in reviewing it.