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There are women who would be happier with a higher sex drive, and who aren't aware there's an alternative to suffering in silence. Your demand that they be kept from knowing about the alternative because it might make someone feel inadequate (Who? Why?) is pretty misguided. The same arguments you make can be made against any feminist argument- women should be happy with the jobs or rights or sexuality they have; if we give them an opportunity to experience something else they'll feel inadequate; it's all just an evil plot to make them work harder/have more sex/vote for Illuminati-backed politicians/etc.

jake brodsky

So, a woman might feel that she ought to go get a pill like this. It's no different than anti-depressants.

Yes, a strong willed woman can overcome the feeling of loss from no longer having good sex or good looks. Nobody should be "coercing" her to do or buy anything.

Conversely, those middle aged men should not get hair restoration or erectile dysfunction pills either. A strong willed man can overcome too, even if his spouse might prefer otherwise.

People are not as strong as we'd like to think they are. Some are vain. Some might spend money on all sorts of things to turn back the clock.

And yes, such desires fuel capitalism. In fact, that's what fuels improvements in our society. If nobody wanted a better house or a sportier transportation, better clothes, or a better looking body, we'd all be living in caves and dying young.

Why is that a problem? Are we not supposed to seek better lives for ourselves?

Todd Essig

I just "Headline Grabbed" the following and its really relevant to the issues you're raising:


Scary ....


Pr. Essig,

It seems to me there are two entirely separate issues that have been confused in the discussion of the proposed new drug flibanserin.

1) What is the appropriate role of marketing drugs, prescription or OTC for any need. Substitute a headache for HSDD and see what happens. Do people really need to take a pill for every headache? A tension headache is best relieved by relaxing (if that is possible). However,if someone smacked you in the head with 2X4 by accident, a pain reliever might just do the trick. Now drug manufacturers would like you to take their products for ever ache and pain, which is probably not for the best but there are clearly some situations where their products are not only beneficial, but medically warranted. Substitute "loss of libido" with "headache" and the point is still the same.

2) Does flibanserin even work at boosting the female libido? No one questions that aspirin will relieve most ordinary headaches. Some might question whether some or all ordinary headaches need biochemical relief, but few doubt aspirin will deliver that relief. However whether flibanserin can actually boost the female libido is, it would seem, questionable at best. Should drug companies be pushing drugs that do not really do what they claim that they do? That is a very different question from how they should be marketing drugs that actually do what they claim to do.

3) A third question is what are "normal" levels of libido and what are problematic. Are all levels "normal" or is the medical / pharmaceutical industry / society at large creating unneeded and arbitrary definitions. Are conditions like Hypoactive Sexual Dysfunction Disorder (HSDD) or Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD) "real" or manufactured?

Part of the problem in discussing the issues surrounding flibanserin is that these very different issues get tangled up and then people have conversations at cross purposes.

Laurie Essig

Hmm- better= what capitalism has given us? You might take a look at that sporty car and that "better" house and then the Gulf Oil disaster-- or perhaps you think any cost is worth these supposedly better lives?

Laurie Essig

The fear of too big clitorises has been around for a while- in the Victorian Era I believe they were sometimes burned with mercury to prevent sexual deviance. female babies who are labeled intersex because of the size of the clitoris are also operated on. But to see this at Cornell in 2010 is pretty scary indeed.

Laurie Essig

Your rhetoric of "choice" is a dead end. First, there is NO pill that will "fix" the sex drive- that's the point- this pill doesn't work or doesn't work any better really than the placebo. Second, even if there were such a pill, there are questions about structural contradictions in the lives of women- like the double burden- that would have to be addressed before something as complex as sex drive could be heightened. Even if and when there is a pill to make women want to have sex, if they literally work 17 or 18 hours a day between paid and unpaid labor, they're really not going to have a lot of time for sex- maybe a quick masturbation session with themselves, but sexual encounters will remain difficult to negotiate.

Justin St. Giles Payne

First, there is NO pill that will “fix” the sex drive- that’s the point- this pill doesn’t work or doesn’t work any better really than the placebo.

Sure, this pill doesn't work - this pill turned out not to help people who had a certain kind of medical problem. They'll have to continue to suffer until a better alternative is developed.

You've got to be a really fucked-up person to think that's something to celebrate.

Second, even if there were such a pill, there are questions about structural contradictions in the lives of women- like the double burden- that would have to be addressed before something as complex as sex drive could be heightened.

I think that women who have concluded that they have some kind of organic sexual dysfunction have probably come to that conclusion after exhausting the alternative explanations, like fatigue, overwork, being run ragged by the kids, incompetent and ugly sexual partners, and so on. Given the stigma I think people probably arrive at a suspicion of sexual dysfunction literally as the last resort.

But then, I don't assume that women are too stupid to know what they want. You seem to be under the impression that you know better. I think maybe you need to rethink your arrogant, sexist presumption.

Justin St. Giles Payne

Do you have a cite for the mercury claim? Mercury doesn't burn, or cause burns - it's neither combustible nor caustic - so I'm sort of wondering if what you just said can possibly be true.

Roy Brander

I think you're missing the positive eagerness with which the public seizes opportunities for Better Living With Chemistry.

From the uppers downers prescribed through the 60's and 70's to Prozac becoming the most-prescribed drug after Tylenol-3 in the last decade (until a large study found it really only helped the profoundly depressed), we love, love, love to medicate our frequently-imaginary problems away.

The problem, in particular, of being Not Happy Enough.

On the male side, let's not skip merely Viagra, but steroids, the use of which can begin in Jr. High, for the "problem" of being Not Bulky Enough. And endless quack (or real but expensive) solutions for the terrible health problem of Being Bald.

On the Not Happy Enough front, where science and industry fail us, there's a long list of illegal drugs, one of the largest industries in the world. We buy those solutions to our woes despite the inflated costs and health problems.

I'm not in disagreement with your post, I'm just pointing out that this is anything but an Evil Industry tricking hapless women into a poor self-image to sell them snake oil. It's an industry that knows there's a big market out there, and all they need is a rationale to offer it as "medicine" so they have somebody to sell it to beside the Medellin Cartel.

As long as the stuff is reasonably non-lethal, works at all for some people, and gets approval to be treated as a legal drug, they're gold. They don't HAVE to "trick" anybody into imagining themselves sick. The endless appetite to have a Better Life Through Chemistry means they don't need one.

This is perfectly normal behaviour in our culture; don't imagine it to be aberrant or sinister.


"Making women feel as if we’re sick for not achieving it enough is not a patriarchal plot, but a capitalist one."

Got it in one.

Excellent job Laurie, and dead on the mark. I have far, far too many responsibilities plus work and other time-consuming yet enjoyable hobbies to try to ape the forced libidinal urge of a mainstream porn star.

And I don't feel guilty for this, either. Nyah!

Justin St. Giles Payne

Excellent job Laurie, and dead on the mark. I have far, far too many responsibilities plus work and other time-consuming yet enjoyable hobbies to try to ape the forced libidinal urge of a mainstream porn star.

So you're probably not a candidate for this medication.

But what about the women who don't have too many responsibilities, have plenty of time, aren't stressed by their job or run ragged by their kids, and still can't seem to summon even the libido of a normal person?

Are they just supposed to suffer in silence, because treating their disorder would hurt your feelings?

jake brodsky

I think you are picking at the flaws of modern society, declaring that it doesn't work, and then looking back with rose tinted glasses at the typically brutish and short lives of our ancestors.

The industrial revolution did a lot to improve life for the masses --at a cost. The cost was worth it, though it doesn't scale well. If I understand you correctly, your point is that because it didn't scale well, that maybe we shouldn't have done it.

Well, if this doesn't work, maybe we should try something else. The Russians tried socialism and you can see how well it worked for them. The Chinese tried Communism and you can see how well that worked. What's left?

Unfortunately, like democracy, capitalism is the worst form of economy except for all the others.


I may be too flip here, but then again I'm a pretty horny fellow whose never taken sex too seriously because I don't view it through the same ritual/religion-smeared lens through which most of my fellow Americans view it.

Ahem. To me, this is about pure mechanics, not happiness or desire. Viagra doesn't create actual desire, it causes erections. Hence we've had "female Viagra" around for a long time: it's KY Jelly.

Or am I being too simplistic and not esoteric enough? I should add that I have faked orgasm once or twice in my life just to get my day moving the hell along. And one more thing, even for guys, not every orgasm is a good orgasm.

I continue to be amazed that Americans have no problem showing violent slasher-torture movies on TV during all hours, including kids' snack time, but flip the fuck out when a tit somehow pops out of somewhere. Maybe that hilariously prudish attitude has something to do with the esoteric bullshit slant of these "female Viagra" discussions. Anyone can throw their arms around someone and link genitals; it's another thing actually to have erotic thoughts going on in your head. If Pfizer can come up with a pill that runs loops of Blacks vs. Blondes Vol 32 in my head, I'll sign right up.

One last thing: tequila, also.


Nice one! "Who's"!

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