There was a time, when I was very young, when I thought of the New York Times as a very authoritative newspaper, a paper run by grownups who put in a real effort to spell everything right and read op-eds before they printed them and maybe not print incredibly stupid shit.
But then there's things like Camille Paglia's op-ed on "female Viagra." It's... well, it's fiskable, that's for sure.
WILL women soon have a Viagra of their own? Although a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recently rejected an application to market the drug flibanserin in the United States for women with low libido, it endorsed the potential benefits and urged further research. Several pharmaceutical companies are reported to be well along in the search for such a drug.
"Viagra" is really a poor term for a libido drug, since Viagra is fundamentally a vascular drug. It'll give you blood, but not desire; in the absence of libido, it makes sex possible, not fun. The "female Viagra," then, is just lube. But ignore all that and just get the gist that we're talking about a drug to increase libido in women.
Which I think is not a fundamentally bad idea. Certainly it could be used as relationship-glue, as a "c'mon, just take your pill and let's do this thing," but it could also be a useful option for women with sexual dysfunction. Ideally, the point of such a drug is to give women more control over their own sexuality, and that's a good thing.
The implication is that a new pill, despite its unforeseen side effects, is necessary to cure the sexual malaise that appears to have sunk over the country. But to what extent do these complaints about sexual apathy reflect a medical reality, and how much do they actually emanate from the anxious, overachieving, white upper middle class?
I was not aware we were going to medicate the country. I was under the impression that women were individuals and some of them had sexual dysfunctions and some of them didn't. Silly, silly me. I'm always mixing up zeitgeists and general cultural feelings and grand sweeping trends with things that happen to humans in reality.
I was further unaware that every woman in the country, or every woman with sexual dysfunction, was a member of the white upper middle class. I guess the implication here is that those lusty ethnics and blue-collar types surely have no such problems?
Only the diffuse New Age movement, inspired by nature-keyed Asian practices, has preserved the radical vision of the modern sexual revolution. But concrete power resides in America’s careerist technocracy, for which the elite schools, with their ideological view of gender as a social construct, are feeder cells.
Apparently "Asian," like anything that isn't white and upper-middle-class, is one of those concepts that just means generally foreigny and requires no specifics or research. If I get some vague associations of incense and spiritual stuff and flowy fabrics, it's either Asian or a liberal-arts dorm room, right?
I'm sure that the teachings of "elite schools" are a major factor in the sexual health of the average American.
Most aspects of gender are social constructs. I asked my female guinea pigs if they would prefer to wear pink dresses or blue pants; they tried to chew on the dress a little, then got nervous and hid in their cardboard tube. Stupid guinea pigs don't know that dresses are innately coded in their estrogen receptors.
In the discreet white-collar realm, men and women are interchangeable, doing the same, mind-based work. Physicality is suppressed; voices are lowered and gestures curtailed in sanitized office space. Men must neuter themselves, while ambitious women postpone procreation. Androgyny is bewitching in art, but in real life it can lead to stagnation and boredom, which no pill can cure.
Well, yes, men and women are the same at work, because they're there to work. Men going around grunting and swinging their cocks around, and women going around buying shoes and cooing at babies, are not workplace assets. I sound like I'm kidding, but I seriously don't know how I should express my gender at work. How do I do CPR like a woman?
Androgyny can be hot as fuck. Androgyny is not sexlessness, or even genderlessness--it's another form of gender expression. If acting like a "real man" or "real woman" gets you off, have at it. But don't tell me that just because I was born with a vagina I have to play along too.
There are enough debates about whether someone's partner should ever change their gender expression to accommodate them, and you think that everyone on Earth needs to play your little game? Wow.
Meanwhile, family life has put middle-class men in a bind; they are simply cogs in a domestic machine commanded by women. Contemporary moms have become virtuoso super-managers of a complex operation focused on the care and transport of children. But it’s not so easy to snap over from Apollonian control to Dionysian delirium.
Yeah, my ol' lady is in charge of the dishes and the laundry and the vacuuming, so I guess you could pretty much say she runs the house, ho ho.
And as for the "care and transport of children," well, what would you like done with the children? Sheesh.
Nor are husbands offering much stimulation in the male display department: visually, American men remain perpetual boys, as shown by the bulky T-shirts, loose shorts and sneakers they wear from preschool through midlife. The sexes, which used to occupy intriguingly separate worlds, are suffering from over-familiarity, a curse of the mundane. There’s no mystery left.
See, this is low journalistic standards right here: a sweeping generalization based on a sloppy and hackneyed stereotype, where not only was formal research obviously out of the question, but even momentary anecdotal (i.e., looking out the window) research seemed like too much work. It's just a nationally published opinion piece, I can knock this off before lunch.
Anyway, of course this is all insanely insulting to women who have biologically based problems with their sex drive. You don't need a pill, honey, you need him to put on a nicer shirt! It's on the level of telling people with clinical depression that they just need to think more positive thoughts.
Furthermore, thanks to a bourgeois white culture that values efficient bodies over voluptuous ones, American actresses have desexualized themselves, confusing sterile athleticism with female power. Their current Pilates-honed look is taut and tense — a boy’s thin limbs and narrow hips combined with amplified breasts. Contrast that with Latino and African-American taste, which runs toward the healthy silhouette of the bootylicious Beyoncé.
Okay, I'm not one to scream "racist" at just anything, but this is kind of proble... it seems to be verging on... the implications carry certain historical... IT'S FUCKING RACIST!
Also apparently skinny people don't have sex. I'm learning so many things today.
On the other hand, rock music, once sexually pioneering, is in the dumps. [...] Late Madonna, in contrast, went bourgeois and turned scrawny. Madonna’s dance-track acolyte, Lady Gaga, with her compulsive overkill, is a high-concept fabrication without an ounce of genuine eroticism.
That ellipsis covers three paragraphs, but the tl;dr is "I haven't listened to music in thirty years."
Pharmaceutical companies will never find the holy grail of a female Viagra — not in this culture driven and drained by middle-class values. Inhibitions are stubbornly internal. And lust is too fiery to be left to the pharmacist.
Fun fact I found out doing some reading for the last Twisty post: before the invention of bronchodilator medications, asthma was thought to be a psychosomatic illness, and talking cures involving working out the "suppressed baby's cry" of wheezing were attempted. (The funny thing is, asthma can be emotionally induced. And if that's the case... a bronchodilator will still save your life.) I don't need to spell out the analogy here, do I?
I've seen both feminist and anti-feminist objections to "female Viagra," from concerns it will be used to try to "cure" asexuals or pornify women to the "we just need to go back to the days when men were REAL men, women were REAL women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were REAL small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri" nonsense on display here. But my feeling is that technology is good and choice is good. Some women with low libidos don't want them raised, some want to work out psychological causes, and some want to treat it medically. And dammit, they're all right and they should all have the option to do what they want. Between living in a world where I can take a libido drug or refuse it, or a world where I can only refuse it--I choose the former.