Warning: To all my faithful readers, I’m talking about sex today. You can ditch this post and tune in next time--But--you might be interested . . . I am certainly interested in YOUR thoughts on this!
By now you've heard the earth-shaking news: the female equivalent of Viagra has finally been approved by the FDA:—Addyi, created by Sprout Pharmaceuticals. Let there be dancing in the streets! Then, the bedroom. Or, maybe not.
I'm not so sure this is a victory for women. This is a victory for Sprout Pharmaceuticals and precisely no one else.
What’s the problem? Not that 5-6 million women between the ages of 20 and 49 suffer from low sexual libido and accompanying distress. The problem, rather, is that a few pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars on Viagra and Cialis and the rest are not.
The race has been on for female Viagra, the economic "holy grail” since the 90’s, when the male drug was released. I’m sure two or three scientists on the many research teams believe they are helping women.
I’m sure many believe that the absence of a woman’s Viagra is yet further evidence of the “War on Women” going on in this country. Fueled by the National Organization for Women, sixty thousand women signed an online petition to the FDA stating, "Women deserve equal treatment when it comes to sex.” The name of this petition drive? “Even the Score.” If men get a pill to enhance their sexual abilities, then women should too!
Rather than question assumptions (
a pill be used to overcome the usual effects of age on a man’s body? Is this right? Is this good? Is this safe?) women seem to be locked into an almost child-like “he gets more!” tug of war with their brothers.
Never mind that the same drug was rejected twice before by the FDA, in 2010 and 2013 because it causes nausea, drowsiness, dizziness and even fainting. Never mind that the drug must be taken daily, and no effects are likely to be seen for a few months. And, never mind that it costs $30 - $75 a month (if you have insurance coverage for this).
What can women expect from this wonder drug? Hold onto your underwear: One extra "sexually satisfying event" per month. And one more measure: The test subjects scored higher on questionnaires measuring desire. What is the source of this overwhelming data? Sprout Pharmaceuticals’ own company trials. (A placebo is likely to post better results than these.)
I’ve got three points to make (and a tiny rant about the "Church") and then I’m done.
Who’s the drug really for?
The drug will benefit Sprout and maybe a few men and very few women. It is often men—husbands, boyfriends---who complain about women’s sexual desire. Some men expect, even demand that their sexual partner desire sex as often as they do. When they don’t, it’s the woman’s problem rather than a shared issue for both to address together. Men often see their own sexuality (and in some cases hyper-sexuality) as the norm rather than as part of the problem. The stats on how often men think about sex every day (any where from every 7 seconds to 19 times a day, depending on the study) become a point of male pride and assurance of normalcy, rather than evidence of a need for restraint and compromise.
Perhaps women really need men to take an anti-viagra drug?
Why do we assume that a lower libido is evidence of a medical condition requiring medication?
We have reduced the sexual experience and the full complexity of our humanness to a bodily sensation and appetite, fixed by a pill, rather than recognizing that we are whole persons, body, soul, spirit, mind, and heart. Problems with our sex lives are often rooted in other issues, particularly relationship issues. It’s naïve and dangerous to think a pill can fix these deeper matters.
Why do women (and men) assume that they must feel sexual desire in order to have sex and a meaningful experience?
Our culture is so feeling-based, we fail to recognize that sex, just like “love,” need not be confined to feelings, but is also a decision, a choice, to act and to will toward the good of the other. We have to ignore our cultural obsession with Harlequin Romance bodice-ripping passion that we believe must preclude every tryst. It’s just not going to happen every time. Nor is it needed.
One more thing. And this is to the Church. For too long the Church has laid the responsibility for a happy marriage on women. It’s the wife’s responsibility to keep the men “happy at home,” so they won’t stray elsewhere. Wives have been urged to please their husbands in the bedroom no matter how long, how often, how much, assuming that their sexual appetites deserve to be fully sated, no matter the cost. (I wouldn’t be surprised to see Addyi being sold at some select Christian Marriage Conferences in the lobby, beside the doughnuts.)
I’d like to hear a different message. A more balanced, biblical message, which would mean that women say yes to their spouses a lot of the time, regardless of their feelings----and they say no some of the time. And men do the same.
The NOW women aren’t all wrong. Husbands and wives both need to share in the construction and exercise of true love and fair desires. It’s time for the Church to say so. It’s time to stop giving men free rein and giving women little rein at all. A pill is not going to fix anything.
Sex is a good gift from a great God when two people work toward sharing it.
SO much more could be said here, but I’ll stop--except for this. We've gotten so much wrong about marriage (that it's a breakable contract to maximize MY happiness, etc.) and about sex . . . The best and most exciting book I know on marriage (and sex) is Tim Keller’s
((Friends, if this topic resonates with you, would you consider sharing? Because the topic involves sex and this pill, Facebook is not allowing me to boost this post. ))
Bless you, good people! Those who are married, may God bless your marriage with honor, joy and self-giving love. Those who aren't, may you know that you are complete and perfect in Christ, who loves you as His bride.