“Does my dick still work? Can I still fuck?” William J. Peace, paralyzed by an illness at age 18 in 1978, wanted answers. During his hospital rehab, Peace heard rumors about dick-sucking nurses, but assumed they were just that—until he awoke to “the silhouette of a young, shapely woman giving my roommate a world-class blowjob.” Soon after, Peace received his own edifying visit. “She brought me to orgasm, and I was taken aback when I realized no ejaculate had emerged,” he wrote in “Head Nurses,” an essay in the “Bad Girls” Winter 2014 issue of Atrium, a Northwestern University Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program publication. “She explained to me that this is common for paralyzed men and that it…would not affect my fertility or my sex life in a major way.” According to Peace, while not officially sanctioned, blowjobs were given to reward and show compassion, part of the “Wild West mentality” that prevailed in hospitals new to treating traumatic spinal cord injuries. “Obviously my experiences constitute a lost part of medical history,” Peace concluded, “lost perhaps because people are too uncomfortable with it.”
How right Peace was. Concerned that Peace’s essay might damage the medical school’s “brand,” Northwestern administrators quickly pulled all issues of Atrium from the web. After much campus debate, the university eventually allowed Atrium online again, but not the “Bad Girls” issue. Fourteen months later and, not so coincidentally, only one day after Professor and Atrium Guest Editor Alice Dreger threatened to go public with the university’s censorship, the “Bad Girls” issue was restored. “It’s just so shocking to me that I was dealing with a problem involving one blowjob in 1978,” said Dreger.