Women’s sexual fulfillment is a lofty feminist goal. But when a drug is developed, if men are the model, why not find a solution based on the factors contributing to men’s ability to maintain consistent sexual desire?
By Amalia Rosenblum
July 7, 2010
About two weeks ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected a drug called flibanserin, which is supposed to arouse sexual desire in women. The FDA said the product’s side effects exceed its advantages.
The development of this drug is an opportunity to examine ideology in the cultural perceptions guiding science and medicine; for example, the search for the risk factors for autism. In the past, researchers investigated whether the mother’s age affects the risk of giving birth to a child with autism. The assumption was that since a woman’s ova are in her body from the time she is born, these cells age along with the rest of the body’s cells. Since a man’s body produces sperm cells in renewing cycles, the researchers concluded there was no need to look for a connection between the fathers’ age and birth defects.
However, an international group of researchers questioned the axiom that males do not have a biological clock. The very fact of the aging of a man’s body, they argued, might mean it carries out all its functions less effectively as he ages, including the production of sperm cells. This trailblazing study found a direct connection between the father’s age and the degree of risk for giving birth to a child who suffers from autism, joining other fertility studies that cast doubt on the “blame the mothers” approach.
Another example comes from archaeology. In the attempt to understand how prehistoric humans lived, archaeologists assumed for many years that since males tended to function as hunters and women as gatherers, the male’s contribution to our primitive ancestors’ nutrition was greater than that of the women.