1. Health
Cory Silverberg

What’s Missing in the Search for Female Viagra

By October 28, 2009

Follow me on:

Terry Allen has a short but pointed rant in In These Times on what she calls "restless vagina syndrome" otherwise known as female sexual dysfunction, and it's supposed cure, which thanks to an uncritical media has been constructed as the hunt for a female Viagra.

There's so much to be depressed about the tenor of most public conversations about what constitutes female sexual dysfunction and how women who are genuinely distressed by some aspect of their sex lives can best be helped. There's an equal amount to be depressed about in the quality of much of the research that gets offered up in defense of what John Bancroft refers to as :

a classic example of starting with some preconceived, and non-evidence based diagnostic categorization for women's sexual dysfunctions, based on the male model

What's missing for me (and it's missing even in Bancroft's insightful quote) is any explicit discussion of what most of these conversations are really about; gender. Biomedical and most quantitative social science sex research continues to bury its head deep in the sand, denying what many other disciplines are now unpacking; that a binary notion of gender is fundamentally flawed and that the male/female dichotomy is rarely if ever a complicated enough lens through which to understand any human experience. Instead, to those searching for a female Viagra there are men, there are women, and the twain shall only meet when we put them in the proper configuration and get them hard and wet enough to merge for precisely 2.36 minutes, 1.5 times a week. Actually now that I write it, it does sound a little hot.

So that's one complaint, and it's a personal one to be sure. But there's something more important missing from the discussion, which is the lived experience of sexual confusion, frustration, and pain that many of us do experience. Of course the story that those searching for drugs tell us is that all they want to do is make our lives better. Too bad they rarely bother to actually ask us what we want. They define a sexual problem not by how much it bothers us, they define it by an number, how many times we have sex, how many times we orgasm, how often we think about sex.

I understand and appreciate individuals who get frustrated by the kind of politicizing I'm engaging in here. They just want help, and if a drug company can offer it, they'll take it. The problem is that the help being offered isn't going to address the complex experience being presented.

It's a lie that Viagra improves your sex life. Viagra doesn't improve your sex life. It doesn't make sex better or make men want to have sex more. It just gives them erections. Anything else that happens is you.

The lie in the promise of a female Viagra, that a pill can make someone want sex, is the same lie for male Viagra, it's just that their marketing campaigns mesh so well with our own fears and ignorance about sex that we'd rather take the lie than deal with the truth.

Read more - In These Times: Restless Vagina Syndrome

| Twitter | Newsletter Signup | Sexuality Forum |
Comments
No comments yet. Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.