Here is the original piece, an edited excerpt from my book that appeared on Salon.com. Except for the misleading title (as I do not make such a claim about liberation) and the editing (which removed the middle of the chapter, but in a way that was not immediately apparent to readers), the excerpt could have been useful:
I was initially thrilled to hear that my book had been excerpted on Salon.com. Unfortunately, however, it looked as if the title was authored by me, even though I never make such a simplistic claim about group sex in my book. It's a seemingly small issue--except for the fact that what I'm actually looking at in that chapter is why people BELIEVE that group sex is politically powerful and how it is talked about as such. I was also exploring how talk about rebellion and freedom ... For a brief section on sex parties in Iran, I drew on the work of anthropologist Pardis Mahdavi (Passionate Uprisings, 2009). The fallout that she experienced from the publication of her book was certainly filled with more vitriol than I experienced; unfortunately, this piece reignited her harassment.
Salon.com did the appropriate thing when I alerted them to the issues with the piece: they made sure that the excerpt included a notification that it was edited and they indicated where the cuts were made in the text. Although they could make it more difficult to find the piece on their own website, they couldn't do anything about the fact that the piece had already "gone viral"--which meant that it was forwarded around the Internet slightly fewer times than "Amazing Puppy Learns to Walk by Getting into the Swim of Things" or "These Photos of Madonna in her Prime are Unreal," but slightly more times than "Zimbabwe President Vows to Behead Gays," according to Scanvine. In the world of the Internet, that's barely significant, but for an academic already wary of being misquoted, it was distressing.
Over the next several weeks, the article was posted on blogs around the world, often with more sensationalist headlines each time. On YouTube, a video appeared entitled, "Are Huge Orgies Liberating Iran?"
Almost immediately, the title framed discourse around the issue. Supporters of the idea that group sex had liberating potential argued against critics who either
Some readers noticed that I hadn't made such claims in the article, as in this tweet: Justin Green. Others, unfortunately, didn't read any further than the title before arguing their points.
And here is another example, with the title changed yet again and similarly outraged comments, from Reader Supported News:
Many of the comments and criticisms of the article--not surprisingly--focused on the "sensationalism" of the title (see examples here and here).
Overall, the experience supported one of my primary arguments in Plays Well in Groups: that group sex is emotionally and symbolically powerful....
One of the unfortunate outcomes has been that I am sometimes cited as if that is my title.... (see examples here and here). I would prefer that quotes are taken from the book to avoid the issue with the editing, and I would prefer that the citation used is the book itself.