“If You Have Feelings Of Lust Lasting More Than Four Hours . . .”

There were several items in The Times a few weeks back which almost had me writing letters to the editor.  But I decided that I have enough people pissed off at me already and I didn’t need any more if my letters had been published.  So I’m going to take advantage of the good nature of the folks here at the blog factory and air some of my opinions.  The good news is that given the select group of readers that I have, I know I’m going to offend far fewer people.  The bad news is . . . is . . . well, there is none.

The first article that got my attention was about an announcement that a panel at the FDA has approved a drug that would treat a lack of sexual desire in women.  The advisory committee approved the drug, filbanserin, for women whose lack of desire was not attributable to other causes such as diseases or relationship troubles.  Feminist groups, by and large, hailed the announcement primarily because they saw it as a step toward removing a gender bias the FDA has had in approving Viagra and other drugs to help men while leaving women with fewer options.

(I can just see the ad campaign:  for Valentine’s, a box of heart-shaped filbanserin pills.)

Happy Valentines!

Happy Valentines!

I had very mixed reactions to the news.  At first, I thought it was kind of cool that a pill could substitute for flowers, romantic dinners and the whispering of sweet nothings; but then I started feeling that the whole thing was a bit too clinical.  And then there was that caveat, that the pill would do nothing if  the lack of interest in sex was the result of “relationship troubles”.  I bet it’s not going to be as smooth sailing as we all would like.  And, on reading further into the details of the studies that led to approval, I found that the pill had led to “one additional episode per month”.  So, not exactly an orgiastic extravaganza.

But the letter I didn’t write would have addressed something entirely different. I think the discussion of parity with men vis-a-vis the FDA on this matter is way out of whack.  I’m no expert on these things, but as I understand it Viagra et al are not used to increase libido. Rather, those drugs are used to increase  blood flow to a man’s penis so as to help with his erection.  For libido issues, all you need do is show a guy a photo of some naked girl and you’re in business.  And . . . that’s an over-the-counter item. In my (limited) experience, there’s no photograph in the world  you could show to a woman that would get her in the mood.  Again, I may be in over my head, but there seems to be a confusion between wanting to have sex and the ability to have it.

That’s more or less the substance of my letter to the editor that I didn’t send.  Of course, it would have been way more erudite and well written but this effort , after all, is for blog purposes only.

Now, the second item that caught my eye is kind of on point.  It was an op-ed piece calling for the lowering of the basket in women’s basketball to a height that would allow for many of the players to be able to dunk the ball.  Actually, this article may not be exactly “on point”.  More like the other side of the same coin . . . or maybe a different coin altogether.  Because in this case, the writer was making the case that because men and women are different, standards should also be different. Really, quite the opposite of the rallying around the new Viagra for women.

Now here’s where I start to worry that my hard-earned feminist bona fides will be at risk. ‘Cause I think that lowering the basketball rim by the 6″ the op-ed writer had suggested is both literally and figuratively condescending.  Professional women players are on average about my height; I’ve never been able to dunk and I never for a moment considered that one of the standards of the game be adjusted so I could have that thrill.  Women’s basketball has already tampered with the game by using a ball that’s smaller than the one men use.  My hands aren’t particularly large and I would certainly benefit from playing with a smaller ball. But could you imagine me showing up at the gym, calling “next” and then getting on the court with my own miniature ball?  My letter to the editor would have continued in this vein until it’s likely there would be very few women still talking to me.  Best to be a little politic and keep this just between us.

I’ve been trying to figure a way to reconcile these two seemingly disparate approaches to gender equality.  One thought I had is that it would be awfully cool if there was a scientific study showing that women would find seeing another woman dunk a ball a real turn on.  I know it would be for me.


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