Female Viagra May Work Too Well?

mag-26Desire-t_CA2-articleLargeA pill that boosts female desire might work too well?

Scientists developing Lybrido (due in 2016) fear the pill may create orgasm-hungry, sex-craved nymphomaniacs who cheat on their husbands and splinter society.

Or at least they are afraid the FDA might reject the drug for that reason. Andrew Goldstein, who’s conducting the research says, “There’s a bias against — a fear of creating the sexually aggressive woman.”

The female libido has been oppressed and repressed for millennia by means of slut-shaming, chastity belts, genital mutilation (in which the clitoris, along with the inner and outer labia are removed), honor killings (killing daughters who may have been unchaperoned, had sex outside marriage, been raped or chosen their own husbands), and more. Even vibrators have been outlawed!

Why?

Just jealous of our multiple O’s?

A desire to feel powerful and in control by controlling women’s bodies?

Or maybe men just don’t want to support kids who aren’t their own, as evolutionary psych claims? (So why do so many of these same dudes want to keep women out of the workforce and unable to support children, themselves?)

If the FDA worries that women – and their partners – will have too much fun and freedom, well, that’s just stupid.

But if they’re worried about cheating and social instability then “female Viagra” might actually help.

First, a big reason men seek divorce is a partner’s low sex drive (which likely stems from repression). So if women desired sex more, there’d be less divorce from that cause.

Meanwhile, even as repression depresses a woman’s natural desire and ability to enjoy pure sexual sensation, we also fetishize women’s bodies and not men’s. All this leads to a convoluted way of getting aroused that could encourage cheating:

Many women get turned on by sensing a man’s lust for her, and from feeling chosen because she’s so attractive. She kind of makes love to herself, vicariously through his eyes… his desire for her. But if she’s been with one man for a long time she may sense less lust as he grows used to her. And if it’s a committed relationship, she may feel like he simply has no choice but her. That’s no turn-on. And then there’s the everydayness” of seeing the same guy all the time, morning and night. She cherishes him, she’s bonded to him, but the sexual magic is gone. UNLV psych professor, Marta Meana, says men don’t seem to experience this problem so much because they have a stronger sex drive – one that is less repressed.

If a woman had another option – a pill that boosts desire – she would feel less need for a series of new, lustful guys to make her feel desired and chosen, and the “everydayness” wouldn’t be the same problem.

The truth is, most women stay true to their partners even when their sexual desire for them drops. But for those who are bored and stay, or for those who might otherwise stray to recapture that spark, this little pill could boost monogamous relationships.

And should a woman’s sex drive grow so strong that it wears her husband out, well, there are vibrators.

We can debate whether monogamy is preferable or not, but as New York Times writer, Daniel Bergner put it,

Perhaps the fantasy that so many of us harbor, consciously or not, in the early days of our relationships, that we have found a soul mate who will offer us both security and passion, till death do us part, will soon be available with the aid of a pill.

I’d rather women enjoy sex because our culture stopped repressing their desire, but if a pill works in the interim, that’s a-okay by me. So long as she is empowered in having this option, and not pressured by her partners or society.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on June 10, 2013, in feminism, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. I agree that the everydayness is not an issue (or at least, far less of one) if you have a strong sex drive. My FwB and I have been “together” for about 7 years or so. He is still the only partner I’ve ever had, and while I do watch porn and look at other men, he is the only one I’m truly sexually interested in.

    If the FDA is really THAT afraid of women being more sexual, they may need to remove their heads from their collective posteriors. Men have had strong libidos forever, and so far civilization hasn’t crumbled. Making other women have a sex drive that’s similar is probably a good equalizer.

  2. I’ve got no problem with female Viagra, Anything that helps people enjoy their relationship.

  3. Myles Blackwell

    Its too bad this is being seen as a problem by the FDA. I could see female Viagra helping a lot of people in relationships as well as single people. The issue of repressed female sexuality has always bothered me particularly and something that might lead to it being alleviated in some way being seen as problematic and in turn being repressed in the same way is frustrating and disturbing.
    Another thing I thought of was the fact that men didn’t mind if women had more sexual partners in order to increase chances for themselves. Wouldn’t a female Viagra ultimately help in that sense?

  4. As long as this pill is used by women who really have libido disorders or problems, fine. But I’m afraid that many persons would use this as some sort of inoffensive “sex toy”, when it’s actually a medication. That could be dangerous and unhealthy. Also, what’s wrong with having a low sex drive? Should we play with every aspect of our nature that we don’t like?
    I see here a slippery slope as well. If the ideal woman now is no longer the repressed one, but the super-sexy, always-eager-to-have-sex one, what happens with those that really don’t like sex so much? Will they feel forced to medicate themselves to live up the standard and not be seen as “boring cold fish”, just as so many women now feel forced to put on breast implants to not be seen as “unattractive”?. I find many, many ugly implications in this pill. Women have the right to enjoy sex as much as men, of course, but they also have the right to have, in average, a lower sex drive and less interest in sex than men. That’s how nature works.

    Oh, by the way, men are as capable of having multiple orgasms as women. It’s just not talked about as much. Maybe if more men knew this, there would be less silly jealousy.

    • You make some good points.

      Women need to be empowered enough to not feel pressured to use this pill, too.

      But nature doesn’t seem to lie behind the difference in sex drive. Women in sex-positive cultures seem to love sex and be far more interested than Western women, who face an onslaught of repression. See my post on “Sexual Desire and Sexism” in “related posts” below.

      I just edited the post to include one of your very important points. See last line.

      • Empowered or not, I hope that both the male and female Viagra are only sold with medical prescription, and not as if they were sweets. Pills are taken when you’re genuinely sick, not just because your marriage is boring.

        I agree that culture represses women’s sex drive. But it represses men’s sex drive as well (though to a lesser degree, granted). The middle-class man of nowadays has less sexual freedom than, say, the Greek or Roman aristocrat of ancient times. Monogamy and religion affects them as well.
        I believe that, even if we removed completely all sexual repression, men would have still a higher sex drive, for the simple reason that they have higher levels of testosterone. At least, the same is observed in animals, and they’re not repressed.

      • Thanks for your comments. They are well thought out.

        At the same time, I’m kind of pissed off about the amount of repression I’ve experienced so I welcome this sort of thing.

  5. Wow. So women having sexual satisfaction is a scary thing, but with Viagra, no such concerns were heard. Damn. Time to get angry.

  6. Elizabeth McMurray

    I agree with your conclusion that cultural changes would be great, but in the meantime, if this drug can help women enjoy sex more, then that’s great too. However, your first point about female’s low sex drive being a big reason men want divorce made me think not that women should take a pill to increase their sex drive, but that men should take a pill to lower their sex drive. Maybe once our culture changes, then men can stop taking their pills. My concern is that, in some situations, this pill will make women change for men’s benefit. If women genuinely want to want more sex, great. But if women think they ought to want more sex because it’d be great for the marriage, I’m not sure that’s a good reason to take a pill. The scientist behind Lybrido started studying female emotion because he was in love, got dumped, and was devastated—doesn’t sound like the origins of this pill were to meet female needs.

    • Yeah. Women need to be empowered and only take this pill if they want to. Not because they feel like they’re supposed to/pressured. And I just edited the post to reflect that (see my last line).

      But I do think the pill was created to meet female needs. Many women who are bored in their marriages feel quite desperate to get their desire for their husbands back. See the New York Times article that discusses this more in depth: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/magazine/unexcited-there-may-be-a-pill-for-that.html?pagewanted=8&_r=0

    • “However, your first point about female’s low sex drive being a big reason men want divorce made me think not that women should take a pill to increase their sex drive, but that men should take a pill to lower their sex drive. ”
      Why should the men have to change to suit women, or vice versa? Why on Earth did she get married to someone who’s sex drive is that much higher than her’s and not find someone more compatible? These arguments can swing both ways but if they both got married and her sex drive lowered then he has every right to feel despair that the sex has dropped and thus the pill would be good to help fix that. It’s up to the individual however to take the pill but if one partner isn’t willing to have intimacy with the other and there sex drive has lowered then the other partner has every right to leave. If your needs aren’t met then you gotta do what you gotta do and find someone who is a better match for you if it doesn’t work out. This pill should be helpful in keeping the sex drives more aligned as AFAIK there aren’t any pills that lower sex drive that don’t have major side effects (only way I know of is castration), so it’s probably easier to boost vs lower the sex drive.

      “The scientist behind Lybrido started studying female emotion because he was in love, got dumped, and was devastated—doesn’t sound like the origins of this pill were to meet female needs.”
      Inspiration can come from dark places, it’s not like the origins of most pills are selfless acts considering the extreme cost of many new medicines and capitalist methods of funding for them.

      • Elizabeth McMurray

        I was being facetious when I brought up the idea of men taking a pill to lower their sex drive because I agree with you: “Why should the men have to change to suit women, or vice versa?” My comment was trying to get at the “vice versa” part of your question because, in our culture, women are often expected to defer to men. But I recognize mismatched sex drives are a very challenging situation for many couples. Especially for relationships that are otherwise going well, mismatched sex drives can feel like a devastating situation for both parties. Unfortunately, sex drives (for men and women) are very fluid, and can fluctuate over time both in and out of a relationship. So a couple can start off with similar sex drives and end up in very different places. If it’s a woman who ends up with a lower sex drive, a new pill like Lybrido could definitely be very helpful and welcomed.

        You make a good point about the origins of most pills not being selfless acts. I actually thought the story of the scientist’s lost love was quite sweet and it’s great the passion from his heartbreak may lead to helping many people and many relationships.

  7. “(So why do so many of these same dudes want to keep women out of the workforce and unable to support children, themselves?)”
    Competition of jobs + they probably want partners to be stay at home parents and see it as the “natural” way.

    By sexually aggressive, do they mean taking the lead or violence? I welcome the former but the latter needs to go away.

    Viagra doesn’t actually increase the libido does it? All it does is allow for more blood flow in the region to allow the mental arousal to match up with a physical erection. The pills I am on however have a side effect of increased libido (it gets quite annoying when you’re single!!) but they’re ADHD meds and very hard to get. Erections do NOT equal mental arousal, I get them even when I am bored, tired and not in the mood for sex.

    I don’t think this pill is even comparable to viagra? The testosterone in Lybrido boosts the mental arousal n desire whilst viagra only has the physiological aspect that lybrido has to some degree as well from what I understand. Viagra has no libido increasing ability apart from removing frustration allowing an existing libido to have less stress.

    If viagra did increase libido we might actually see fears of it being banned too over fears of men wanting too much sex and sexual aggression. It is men after-all whom hold the animal stereotype of the horny dog which may go rape someone just to get some. These 2 pills are not very comparable, they effectively do different things.

    • No one’s talking violence, as is obvious from the post.

      Your other point is irrelevant to the point of this post. Quibbling is boring in a blog. I assume my readers are smart enough to figure out that Viagra is about plumbing and this pill is about desire.

  8. You’d think the FDA would try to correct the bias of having Viagra for years before even considering a female version, but, no, they are setting up a witchhunt. So sad.

  9. I’ll just say why the hell not? It be nice for those women in need that an alternative like this exists. I completely agree with the last part of this post that we work out the mental blocks first before resorting to drugs but for now if all we have is a band-aid might as well stick it on.
    If they’re worried that their housewives are gonna pop a few pills and call the pool boy I think they’re reacting too late to a symptom and not the problem.
    The main issue here is potential abuse and we’ll never really know what people intend till its available to them. Most men will avoid abusing viagra because they fear having to go to the hospital for their 5 hour long erection, I’m sure their is some equal consequence that will limit abuse.
    Another thing to wonder is how many men would try to slip this into their spouse’s coffee without their consent, new roofie?
    Most of what i’m saying is laughable but abuse in any form is a potential issue but we can’t be certain till it’s available and rejecting it because of several ill-conceived notions is unacceptable. Viagra for everyone!

    • Well, it’s not as though this would cause women to lose control. It’s not at all like a roofie.

      It simply makes women’s sexual desire similar but it would be if it weren’t repressed – more similar to men’s. While a lot of people claim that men have no control over their sexual desire (as an excuse for rape) they do.

      Interesting thoughts, though.

  10. If the FDA rejects it because ‘sexual women will splinter society’, then they are idiots, but I do not blame them for their fear of the unknown. It is unknown how this pill will affect society. It isn’t a pill that cures a physical illness, it cures, or helps cure, a societal one. I’m speaking of the slut-shaming, repressive society that we live in(at least in the USA). I’m not sure of another pill like it, one that tries to cure a societal illness. if it does work get through the FDA, who will be allowed to take it? Sexual repression is not easy to diagnose. Will it be over the counter? Or will it be highly addictive and change a womans brain chemistry, like most psycological pills(like anti-depressents or anxiety pills). Will a woman have to stay on it the rest of her life, or can she take them for a few months, find her sexual power and be freed from repression?

  11. From the description of this drug, female Viagra sounds a lot like a love potion from a fairytale. Usually in the stories there are disastrous effects because the woman almost always becomes love crazy and this is might be a reason why men are afraid of this drug in reality. Although the drug could alter a woman’s brain chemistry, I do not think it could get to that extent. The drug is meant to unrepress a woman’s sexual desires so they are most likely going to be more horny then usual. But I think this might be a good thing, because as you said it will keep her partner more interested. If her partner is more interested, he will want to stay with her and help her if her desires get out of control instead of wanting a divorce. You said that the FDA would not approve the drug because of the fear of sex crazed women, but I think that is a small price to pay if it will help women with their relationships in the long run.

    • Well, just because women aren’t repressed doesn’t make them sex-crazed. Seems like a bias to me. Especially if you read the New York Times article that talks about that trials that have been done, the women don’t seem to be sex-craved.

      And I’m more concerned with women ENJOYING instancy with their partners, rather than simply keeping their partners interested.

  12. Yes men can control their sexual desire. But a drunk man or a man on drugs can not control himself.

    You want women to have the same sexual desire as men.

    Well, the sexual desire of men, makes men chase women.
    So that drug means that will make women chase men.

    What man wouldn’t want to live in that world?

    The men are willing to take the risk and sleep with a stranger they met at a bar, they don’t really care who that person is, they are bigger and stronger in average and they are not afraid.

    Are women willing to take the risk and sleep with whoever stranger they meet at a bar?
    Go ahead, just wish that person don’t turn out to be the wrong person.

    It’s not about sexual suppression.
    It’s about safety and trusting a stranger.

    This is the 21st century, we don’t live in small tribal societies with a population of 100 where everybody knows and trusts everybody.

    You want a drug to cloud your mind and judgement? go ahead.

  13. Once I met a stranger at a bar. I am not a big threatning looking dude, on the contrary I look really friendly.
    It was clear she really liked me.
    If there wasn’t the sexual suppression and the fear of her appearing as a “slut” she might be more openly with me.

    But it wasn’t the sexual suppresion and the label “slut” that prevented her from taking charge and making an sexual advance to me.
    After 10-15 minutes of talking she boldly asked me with a smile “can I trust you? you won’t turn out to be a psycho?”

    That was a revelation.
    So women after all do want to have sex as much as men do, and they do want to have casual sex as much as men do but what prevents from doing it, is the fear of trusting someone else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a stranger or not. That person might be a friend’s friend, still he may turn out to a pervert later on.

    So you should blame nature for making men on average bigger and stronger than women.

    That’s why most men are avoing much bigger and stronger women, they look too intimidating.

    I do believe that women should have casual sex as much as they want to but they should be beware of the possibility that person may turn out to be the wrong person.
    If they are willing to take that risk they should go ahead and be more bold.

    Over and out.

    • First, women’s sexuality is repressed. That is why women so often lose interest in sex so fast after they have been with one man for a long period of time. It is also why 43% of women report some sort of sexual dysfunction: low or no interest in sex, difficulty with orgasm, or inability to orgasm. Even women who do orgasm in our culture often need a vibrator. That’s not natural. Women in cultures that are sex positive for women are easily and multiply orgasmic. I, myself, was much more interested in sexuality when I was age 10 that at age 20. That is because of the effects of repression on me, personally. Repression is also a reason why a lot of women are more interested in sex to prove that they are attractive than in trying to make themselves attractive so that they can have sex. See these posts for instance:

      Sexual Desire & Sexism
      https://broadblogs.com/2012/05/07/sexual-desire-sexism/

      Sex with Men, Hoping to Feel Beautiful
      https://broadblogs.com/2011/06/20/sex-with-men-hoping-to-feel-beautiful/

      Also, you don’t find rape in every culture. You don’t find rape in cultures where women and men are equal, like the American Indians of the East Coast when the Europeans arrived (think Cherokee and Iroquois). I need to write a post on this so I can just insert a link.

      The reason women fear rape is not because men are bigger and stronger. Rape becomes a problem when men are taught that they are supposed to be powerful and dominate women. Rapists are sexist men.

      See these links:

      Mind of a Rapist: Trying to Bridge a Gap between a Small Self and a Big Man
      https://broadblogs.com/2010/10/26/mind-of-a-rapist-trying-to-bridge-a-gap-between-a-small-self-and-a-big-man/
      Rape Epidemic in South Africa. Why?
      https://broadblogs.com/2012/04/06/rape-epidemic-in-south-africa-why-2/
      What Do Rapists Want?
      https://broadblogs.com/2013/01/04/what-do-rapists-want/

      When Rapists are Heroes
      https://broadblogs.com/2013/04/19/when-rapists-are-heroes/
      Raping, Shaming Girls to Impress Guys
      https://broadblogs.com/2012/11/05/raping-shaming-girls-to-impress-guys/

      • I completely agree. I’m physically female, and stand at 5’7″ and weigh about 145lbs. My FwB is male, and is 6’2″ and 255lbs. Sometimes we wrestle, and though I can easily get him in a choke hold, when it comes to simply pinning me down…yeah, he always wins.

        But I fully trust him. Not be cause he’s a great man, not because we’ve been having sex for many years, not because he’s never drunk, not because the wrestling is only playing. No, I trust him because he believes that men and women are equal, at least mentally and can be physically. When someone views you as their equal sex partner instead of an unequal conquest…yeah, you trust them.

      • Thanks for adding that.

        On a related note, people often think that men are physically superior because they are on average bigger and stronger than women. That is one type of physical superiority. But there are others. For instance, women survive better than men. That’s a pretty important physical superiority.

        And one relies on the other. For instance, the fact that women are on average 6 inches shorter than men helps them to survive better in times of famine because they simply need less food. Also, because men have more muscular strength, they are more likely to get killed as hunters and warriors.

        It’s as though mother nature has a mind and very much wants to keep women alive more than men – because you need fewer men to create babies and keep the human race going.

        And so man are physically superior in terms of muscular mass while women are physically superior in terms of being able to survive. They each have their own physical superiorities.

      • “Also, because men have more muscular strength, they are more likely to get killed as hunters and warriors.”
        There’s also the ultimate female privilege of chivalrous attitudes in men, the hero protector role where women will be protected at the expense of male life. Men are raised to be the knight. Also male culture has a lot of violence, and the majority of deaths by violence are male on male further widening the survival gap. Stoicism also kills off quite a few men as many don’t go to the doctor until it’s too late as they are trying to be too damn tough and independent.

      • Also Estrogen has a protective effect on the body.

      • There are a number of ways women’s bodies are better able to survive.

  14. Rohan 7 Things

    This: “I’d rather women enjoy sex because our culture stopped repressing their desire”

    But as you say, women should not be bullied into not being allowed a pill that could heighten their sexual desire. Last time I checked society wasn’t doing so great anyway, and I don’t see how sexually empowered women could make it any worse!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Rohan.

  15. sandra ruelas

    To be honest, I would be one of the first to go out and buy this! I have lost my sex drive and I’m only 21. What is wrong with me? I literally need to watch promo to get horny or be drunk. I’m pretty sure divorce rates would go down. Why can men have the magic pill and women can’t?

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