Women getting it up

cold wifeOK, I’m quite late on this one as work has been hellish recently. But here’s the news we’ve all be waiting for – female Viagra has been invented. According to The Sun, it makes ‘girls’ sex drive soar’ (or airbrushed to oblivion it seems). This claim and Flibanserin have been well torn apart by Dr Petra and Neuroskeptic.

In sum, this was a preapproved drug being aggressively marketed for a likely manufactured ‘disorder’, and may be no better than a couple of glasses of wine.

There is of course a problem with the over-medicalisation of social problems, mental health or indeed just life, but female sexual dysfunction taps in to our historical beliefs about female sexuality. Whether nymphomaniacs or laced up prudes, women’s sexuality has been portrayed as a mysterious morass of hormones, guilt and secrecy.

What I also find disturbing is the appropriation of feminist language to sell these products; women deserve to have orgasms and this pill with help reap the rewards of the sexual revolution. This is of course a tried and tested method employed to sell anything from electro-shock Taser weapons to breast augmentation. To criticise these products, these grisly chunks in the vomit of capitalism, is to be anti-women or anti-choice.

Of course what these products do is actually limit choice by their very nature. By framing some women’s lack of sexual desire as ‘something that’s wrong with her head’ means that all the other potential factors – something wrong in the relationship, unsatisfactory sexual partner, stress and anxiety, unfulfilled sexual desires, it being temporary and just one of those things – are not being considered or addressed.

The flip side of ‘women not wanting sex’ is men wanting it all the time. This includes the myth that men think about sex every 7 seconds (tackled here with a number of other bogus stats), but can translate into the far more sinister ‘some women asked to be raped because men just can’t help themselves’.

A simplistic and historically-rooted view of male and female sexuality can at best be misleading and unhelpful and at worst can legitimise sexual violence or abusive behaviours.

So if you’re lacking sexual desire, chill out, have a glass of wine and think about it for a bit, considering what factors might be feeding the problem. Or maybe talk to someone; ideally someone who won’t financially benefit from selling you a pill.

2 Responses to “Women getting it up”

  • K Says:

    It’s always very upsetting to me when I see female sexual dysfunction labeled as ‘fake’ or ‘manufactured,’ since, I have it, and no one needed to invent it for me to have it…
    But then I’m kind of a weird exception to the rules, since I fall into the pain category of sexual dysfunction, which has been referred to as the only valid sexual dysfunction. FSD is a blanket term, which encompasses, generally, orgasm/arousal/libido/pain, but pain tends to get ignored. I did not see physical & bodily issues listed on this post, where you mention the myriad other life stressors that can complicate sex such as unreceptive partner & relationship stress. Still, pain falls under that broad umbrella term though, so I’m underneath that umbrella with it.

    So for me, I actually need there to be medical knowledge of female anatomy, sexuality & functioning, in order to have that sexual pain (Which, for some women, can bleed out into areas besides sex,) addressed adequately.

    When you have a moment, there was an article a NYTimes magazine about the development of FSD as a diagnosis. You may be interested in this if you haven’t seen it already, I thought it was pretty interesting & sensitive. Women Who Want to Want. This is of particular interest since it includes an interview with someone behind the HSDD diagnosis & who may shape the next DSM revision.

    As both Dr. Petra & Neuroskeptic point out, It’s not accurate to say that Filbanserin will work just like Viagra. Viagra makes it easier for signs of arousal to take place, since it increases blood flow, but it does not create a desire for sex in and of itself. So when you say, “female Viagra has been invented,” it’s not clear to me if you mean to satirize news reports that treat erection as sexual desire.

    Desire actually isn’t the biggest problem for me, so really Filbanserin would probably be even less appropriate for me than Viagra would. But some women I’ve talked to, they are bothered by low desire, and it’s a long-term thing that even sex therapy can’t figure out. Every once in awhile, a few glasses of wine and getting some help around the house or reducing stress, won’t resolve sexual problems…
    (Plus I’ve had other doctors who have said to me that my pain was all in my head so relax & have a glass of wine, so that expression sounds very dismissive… Ouch.)

    Who did you have in mind for women to talk to, when they are bothered by what they personally consider to be a low libido? Since sex is still largely taboo, friends & family are not always an option. What about doctors, who may be inclined to prescribe this new antidepressant? What about sex therapists, who also, hopefully after ruling out other problems, may also try it as a last resort option? For example, one sex therapist whose blog I read, she sounded more open to considering this drug as a last resort, after therapy & life changes don’t improve a patient’s satisfaction with their sex life. But the thing is sex therapy takes awhile to see if it’s going to work too, and if the therapist is able to prescribe medication, then is there still potentially a conflict of interest there?

    I can definitely see how this drug is going to be marketed by the media, including The Sun. The media is going to seize upon this & sensationalize it. I agree that a simplistic view of sexuality isn’t sufficient for exploring & explaining sex. I can definitely see how this drug isn’t going to be right for everyone (not even right for ‘most,’) and how it is going to be important that doctors and consumers have access to as much data as possible (which isn’t easy to get to.) But at the same time, I can see how at least a few women would benefit from it, and it is for those very few that I don’t want to completely disregard drugs like Filbanserin.

  • Lola Wakefield Says:

    My first thought when I read the opening graph: Score some, take it recreationally and break out the vibrator.

    Seriously though, brilliantly valid points across the board. Well done, Miss MC. Well done.

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