Addyi Might Not Be Perfect, But Its Approval — And It's Mere Existence —Are Important Steps For Women
The first-ever "female Viagra" was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday, and critics are already hating on it. I mean, some of their hate is warranted, since the drug apparently has limited efficacy, some frightening side effects, and might not mix well with alcohol or hormonal birth control. We should acknowledge those problems and push for more work to be done on a better libido-enhancing drug for women. But then we should celebrate the fact that a drug of this nature has actually come out. Sure, it isn't perfect, but the existence of female Viagra is an important step for women and their right to have a fulfilling sex life.
The FDA initially rejected flibanserin twice, due to concerns that it didn't work at all. Unlike Viagra, women have to take the drug, which is being sold under the brand name Addyi, every day for an extended period of time. It acts more like an anti-depressant than a one-time pill that you take only when you want to become aroused for sex. It hasn't been shown to be effective for all women, and it could have an array of side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, fainting, and extremely low blood pressure.
Jessica Valenti, writing for the Guardian, says that maybe women's lack of desire isn't the issue at all. She wrote that, because desire is inextricably linked to one's partner and feelings for said partner, the problem might be the fact that mainstream porn has conditioned men to be lazy during sex. She argues that, for example, men might not want to perform oral sex as often as women want it. And differences in what is wanted and what is given leads to women becoming disinterested in their partners.
All of these problems, though, don't address the fact that there are some women out there who just want to have more sex. And for whatever reason, when they want to become aroused, their bodies don't respond. Sure, Valenti is right in saying that there could be other factors at play. But there could very well be women who — like men who take Viagra — just want to let their freak flags fly more often, and for some reason, their damn flags won't catch the wind, and it has little to do with their partners' actions.
We shouldn't speak for all women and assume that their problems with arousal or desire are always the fault of their partners. Instead, we should acknowledge that there are women who might attribute their lack of desire for their partners to problems with their own bodies. And for those women, this is a huge win. And for women in general who like sex, this is a colossal win.
Think about it. Women's access to abortion has been restricted in states across the U.S., and Republican leaders do not want any taxpayer money to go to birth control for women. When conservatives like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former talk show host Rush Limbaugh talk about such issues, they often use language that alludes to women who want cheap birth control as having loose morals or being floozies. Limbaugh has actually used the words "slut" and "prostitute."
And now, to the dismay of those sad men, there's a drug for women that attempts to enhance their libido and arousal. Hell yes! [Insert sassy girl emoji] Now we don't have to call female Viagra "female Viagra," because there's actually a drug that exists to enhance women's arousal. This is one more way in which women don't have to define themselves in terms of what men have, and thus, it's one step closer to women being able to control who they are and what they want.
Yes, let's fix the purported problems this drug has. And yes, let's tell women that they deserve partners who really care about their pleasure. But let's also celebrate the fact that this drug means women can embrace their right to have pleasure in the first place.
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