I think we can all agree that women’s libidos are always a problem.
Either they are too high — a particular concern when women are older than, say, 30, because EW COUGAR ON THE ATTACK HOW GROSS — or they are too low, which is equally as terrible because infrequent sexual contact is one of the worst things that could ever afflict someone.
Maybe not as bad as cancer but definitely worse than diabetes.
Thankfully for those whose sex drives fall into the latter, unsatisfactory-because-they’re-lower-than-culturally-expected category, help is on the way, courtesy of science.
Lybrido (GET IT?!) has been nicknamed “the female Viagra.” Developed for the treatment of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (a real thing, apparently!) by a privately owned Dutch/American company called Emotional Brain, it — along with Lybridos, a similar drug — is currently in clinical trials in the States. Subject to approval from national health agencies, both medications could be released into the market by 2016.
Take a pill, become horny! What’s not to love about this exciting new pharmaceutical development?
Plenty, actually — especially with respect to the media coverage Lybrido has been receiving. So many tired, sexist tropes, you guys. SO. MANY. PROBLEMATIC. TROPES.
By way of shining example, I present you with this article from British newspaper the Daily Mail, brought to my attention by this blog’s very own tech support goddess, Liz — a Brit who clearly hates me because why else would she encourage me to read such a piece of shit? (For the record: Yes, I understand the Daily Mail is a somewhat trashy rag. BUT STILL.)
There’s so much to unpack here.
Let’s start with the headline: “‘Women have a responsibility to keep their libidos high for their husbands’: Could ‘female Viagra’ save YOUR marriage?”
– Heteronormative assumptions about marriage and relationships? Check.
– Erasure of asexual folks? Check.
– Implication that men always want more sex than women? Check.
– None-too-subtle suggestion that women must put out lest they be tossed to the curb (and DESERVEDLY SO)? Check.
Then there’s the article itself, which mainly synopsizes a conversation between two women on British daytime TV show This Morning.
Kelly Rose Bradford (of the ‘Women have a responsibility to keep their libidos high for their husbands’ quote used in the headline) is pro-Lybrido:
…Bradford said the pill could help women suffering from a low sex drive to stop their husbands straying.
– Assumption that women are the ones responsible for the ultimate success or failure of their relationships? Check.
– Implication that lack of sex is a legitimate reason for cheating? Check.
Shona Sibary — who, we are helpfully informed, “has said publicly in the past that she would ‘rather mop the floor’ than have sex with her husband” (!!) — is anti-Lybrido:
Sibary said women are more complicated sexually than men, and that the pill would not stimulate females emotionally.
‘If you’re a man and you want to have sex for the sake of having it, fine, pop a pill and have sex in the mechanical way. But women are different. I’m the type of woman this drug is targeting, and we want to feel desirable and desired: it’s not a chemical thing, it’s an emotional thing.’
– Introduction of women-as-frigid-sex-haters-who-would-rather-do-anything-else (INCLUDING MOPPING, THE WORST OF ALL THE CHORES) stereotype? Check.
– Suggestion that women always and exclusively crave romance? Check.
Seriously, is there ANY cliché about women’s sexuality this article doesn’t invoke?
Why yes, in fact!
By focusing on how much women hate the sex (unless it involves candles and smooth jazz and tasteful lingerie) and sex-as-wifely-duty, the Daily Mail missed an opportunity to sow fear about the exact opposite trope: SEX-CRAZED WOMEN OUT OF CONTROL!!!!!
No worries — online news site The Inquisitr has this one covered, with what is possibly the best headline ever:
“‘Female Viagra’ Lybrido Fears: May Create Nymphomania Epidemic”
The article that follows is basically a round-up piece that drills down on a singular point made in a much-larger (and far more nuanced) article on Lybrido which recently ran in The New York Times.
We learn some researchers and experts fear “the fabric of our way of life will be deteriorated if women become more interested in sex.”
THE FABRIC OF OUR WAY OF LIFE.
It goes on to quote Times writer Daniel Bergner, who notes in that aforementioned piece:
More than one adviser to the industry told me that companies worried about the prospect that their study results would be too strong, that the FDA would reject an application out of concern that a chemical would lead to female excesses, crazed binges of infidelity, societal splintering.
To recap, then: women who are uninterested in having sex (with men) need fixing, as do women who don’t mind sex but don’t like having it as frequently as their husbands would prefer. But not TOO MUCH fixing, or else they will become uncontrollable, aggressive nymphomaniacs whose wanton fucking (CRAZED BINGES, PEOPLE!) will single-handedly bring on the collapse as society as we know it.
And, you know, that would be a bad thing. Because society as we know it is so awesome right now, particularly with respect to the way women’s diverse expression of their own sexual urges is understood and accepted by all.
I’m not necessarily against Lybrido as a medical intervention. If it’s safe and it works, I see how it could be of value to some women.
But I also see how ostensibly normal aspects of women’s sex lives have become increasingly medicalized, like so many other aspects of our lives.
The pharmaceutical industry, in particular, loves medicalizing things. Convincing us we’re abnormal allows companies to get rich by selling us solutions to our alleged problems. Have a feeling? Take a pill. Don’t have a feeling? Take a pill.
Who gets to decide what’s normal? What if most of us are not actually broken? What if we’re just different? And what if different is OK?
At this point, it seems the discussion of female sexual desire is stalled at the anxiety phase; no better than the average Cosmo article.
Are you pleasing your man?