Monday, April 24, 2006
pills, sprays and promiscuity
Drudge directed thousands of readers, I'm sure, to this article about "sex in a spray." While the full text of the article provides plenty of opportunities for a little laugh, what first raised my eyebrow was the sub-headline: PT-141 will finally offer women the chance to turn on their sexual desire as and when they need it ... Will sex in a spray usher in an age of 'McNookie' - quick easy couplings low on emotional nutrition?
What it immediately points out is that women are seen as the guardians of emotional attachment in sex. Sure, we've been giving men Viagra for years, but that's OK because, well, their two "heads" are not necessarily connected--as later noted in the article:
A male rat's erection on its own doesn't say much about the rat's state of mind. A female rat's coquetry, on the other hand, says all we need to know about her intentions and desires.
But a woman on the other hand is going to need some sort of emotional investment to become aroused--without the help of this magic spray, of course. So now, really, all hell could break loose as women might use this spray to give into pressures to have sex when they don't feel like it--or even worse, use the spray to have promiscuous couplings.
I'm pretty sure I can't agree with the idea that a female flirting and having sex tells us more about her thoughts/feelings than a man becoming aroused tells us about his thoughts/feelings. In a somewhat typical fashion, this article zeros in on the notion of women being in control of their sexual urges as a revolutionary thing. But I ask how much more revolutionary is this than a man deciding to get it up by popping a blue pill? Or even than a woman throwing back a potent shot of alcohol?
Of course, the spray will most likely be approved for men before women. Chemicals that boost sexual potency go to the men first, who need virility most of all (or at least the appearance of it); chemicals that work as birth control go to women first, who need virtue and chastity above all (or at least the appearance of it).
My guess is that - besides becoming a fun party drug - PT-141 could probably be the most help for women who might already fake an orgasm or arousal here or there. Really, it would be a gold digger's best friend, right? I mean, women have been turning on the sex spiggot when they see necessary for years; this might just make faking it a bit more enjoyable... Or maybe it could make men who would accept such advances a little less sure of their intentions?
Fortunately - perhaps thrown in for feminist readers like myself - the article does make another comment on female sexual behavior. In a separate experiment with rats, researchers gave female rats the sole responsibility for choosing when to have sex with their rat partner, simply through the design of the rat hotel.
Here's what he found: the effects of giving a female rat greater personal
control over her sex life are essentially the same as those of giving her
PT-141. Autonomy, in other words, is as real an aphrodisiac as any substance
known to science.
So perhaps this spray wouldn't increase the incidence of casual couplings any more than, say, the Pill theoretically has or something less quantifiable like a heaping helping of self-confidence. But that still doesn't mean that a woman who is more likely to have sex because of autonomy (which in theory PT-141 is providing chemically) is more likely to have promiscuous sex.
And it doesn't make the leap between women having more sex and a change in the net emotional value of that sex.
Indeed, this could have some implications regarding sexual politics. But then, also, I think it's the treatment of a symptom rather than the disease, as I believe is also the case with "ED" medications. The idea of popping a pill and spraying a bottle as foreplay is just so ungodly unsexy. How about people just make time for each other again?
I guess I wasn't really addressing the issue of the spray, so much as the article about it. Which, while it sounded well written and researched, basically spelled out a whole bunch of sexual stereotypes, likely without meaning to.