Sexual Politics

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American Culture Promotes Female Sexual Dysfunction

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Saint Shakira Calls Libido the “Engine of the World”

Male Ego, Women Faking Orgasms & Sensual Chaos in Our Bedrooms

‘Pretty Boy’ Andrej Pejic Talks Sex, Love & Leaving His Gender to ‘Artistic Interpretation’

Find Your Sensual, Sovereign Self with Lone Morch in Paris


Tara, Candice & Robyn | Steven Meisel | Vogue Italia June 2011 | ‘Belle vere’

Franca Sozzani on Curvy Girls, Sensuality & More Body Types in Fashion

Givenchy Transgender Model Lea T Stars in French Vogue (2010)

Tom Ford Embraces Natural Breasts, Not Bombshells

Orgasmic Female Brain in ‘La Petite Mort’

Ever Woman Should Own Jordan Matters’ ‘Uncovered’

Men More Likely Than Women To First Look at Face in Porn Films

Selita Ebanks | Kanye West ‘Runaway’ Full Video Embedded

The Great Wall of Vagina | Learning to Love Our Genitalia

Body Talk | Owning Vulvas, Clits & G-Spots

Mysteries of the Garden of Eden’ | History Channel | In Latin Apple Means Evil

Sexy Doublespeak | American Women & Sexual Honesty

Statistics Say Conservatives Buy More Porn


Women As Muses: What Is Our Place in the Modern World? Or Are We Just ‘Slut Girls’ Today?



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Entries in Boehringer Ingelheim (4)


Boehringer Ingelheim Abandons Flibanserin and 'Pink Viagra'

via Flickr’s Dana GravesGerman drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim announced on Friday that it had stopped work on a pill for low libido in women, or a ‘female Viagra’ drug as it’s commonly called. Our involved writing about this drug takes a middle-of-the road analysis to the research results.

We don’t embrace Leonore Tiefer’s unyielding stance on the pursuit of a female version of Viagra: “The discontinuation of clinical research on flibanserin represents a victory for the F.D.A. and the public, and the latest travesty in the decade-long hunt for a so-called ‘pink Viagra’. The agency asked for more data on safety and efficacy and the company responded that they lack the resources for such research. This confirms that Boehringer-Ingelheim was always more invested in marketing than science.” via NYTimes

Boehringer’s Uniquely American Results

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Female Desire Drug Flibanserin Comes Before FDA

Tracking women’s orgasms is a top editorial priority at Anne of Carversville. 

Hopefully, we do a good job of distilling the facts about female sexuality, and that includes the dreams of big pharma to create the equivalent of Viagra for women.

On May 27, 2010 “Orgasm Inc.” has its film debut at New York’s Lincoln Center. Three weeks later, on June 18, the German manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim goes before the FDA, seeking approval for its pill with the unsexy name “flibanserin”, the focus of its flower-inspired research on four groups of women who participated in trials in Fall 2009.

Tank’s Masha Novoselova by Sofia Sanchez & Mauro MongielloSensuality News Embraces Sexual Intimacy

Let us get our own prejudices on the table.

We believe that women — and disproportionately more American women— underrate the health benefits of positive sexuality in their lives. We’re sad that orgasms get such such minor play among intelligent American women, who consistently say that besides an extra hour of sleep, they would rather read a book or watch a movie.

Statistics from a recent survey by the National Sleep Foundation indicate that White women and Asians put a lower priority on sex vs sleep, than Latino and African American women. Don’t shoot us. This is one ‘fact’ we embrace as a good one, and not a stereotypical assessment of Latino and African American propensity for sexual activity. 

Blacks|African Americans and Latinos are 10 times as likely to report having sex every night as Whites and Asians and 2.5 times more likely than Whites.

At AOC, we have hot blood in our veins, too and believe that nothing could be better for women’s health than frequent orgasms, even if she goes solo.

Medicalizing Sexual Desire

The big story around the Boehringer Ingelheim FDA application is the “medicalization” of female sexual desire. There is no new script here, although the research facts are revealing, and we will restate them. American women are understandably aggravated at having their lack of sexual desire put under the microscope, as one more “failing” or imperfection.

Big pharma claims they are only trying to fill a valid medical need expressed by some women to reignite their libidos. Unfortunately, all women will be subjected to the advertising messages, and they are tough to tune out, especially if hubby is in the room.

Even if a woman is positive about her lack of sexual libido, she will be confronted with the medical opportunity of correcting it. Look at the ad campaigns for Viagra, Cialis and Levitra. Every survey says that men desire sex more than women (with the statistical opposite, of course). Women may get a trip to the doctor for Christmas.

The Sexual High Bar

More so than women in other countries, American women hold ourselves against an impossible to achieve set of Wonder Woman standards, and then drown in unhappiness and self-loathing, when we can’t achieve them. Many of those standards are our own, and others are imposed by culture, religion and business marketing.

Our perceived “failures” can turn us against our own psyches and bodies, frequently eating too much comfort food as an escape and not wanting to be seen naked with the lights on.

A few years ago Cosmo advised women to put pink lights in the bedroom, because they minimize the appearance of cellulite visible to “him” when we’re walking to the bathroom naked. With friends like Cosmo, American women don’t need enemies, and I commented just that to them. Horrible!

Tank’s Masha Novoselova by Sofia Sanchez & Mauro MongielloAmerican Culture and Female Sexual Desire

Compared to European women, Americans are hammered with religious and family-values guilt messages, until we agree that it’s nearly impossible to pursue sensible but unrestrained sensual delight with a loving partner.

Some members of the American clergy have changed course, recognizing that pleasure and positive sexuality are core foundations in a successful marriage or partnership. Many more pulpits continue to broadcast the sullied nature of female sexuality and hold women responsible for the corruption of the social order.

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Loss of Sexual Desire In Younger Women

photo via Symphonie/GettyAs women worldwide celebrate the 50th anniversary of the pill, a new survey of 1,086 German female medical students reports that women using contraception, especially hormonal contraception, had significantly lower sexual functioning scores. 80% of the women were in stable relationships, most were on the pill, and nearly all were sexually active in the prior month.

The dreaded “sexual dysfunction” category included diminished desire and interest in sexual fantasies, mental and physical inability to achieve orgasm, and pain associated with vaginal penetration.

Reporting on the same survey WebMD writes that women not in stable relationships — regardless of their contraception use — had higher sexual desire but lower orgasm scores. Women using birth control such as condoms or IUDs reported the highest levels of sexual satisfaction, presumably with a regular partner.

Research on young women with multiple sex partners has previously established higher levels of sexual dysfunction in reported orgasms in that group of women.

Association Only Between Pill and Low Sexual Desire

Because there was no control group in the study, researchers are establishing a positive association between lower sexual desire and the pill, but more research is required. Also, female medical students aren’t representative of the female population at large, especially with regard to stress levels and sleep deprivation.

Until now, the amount of testosterone, rather than progestins and estrogen, in a woman’s body was associated with her levels of sexual desire. “Hormonal contraceptives may also damage levels of circulating testosterone, thus dampening the capacity for sexual desire and response, the researchers write in this week’s issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.” via LiveScience

From our viewpoints, we don’t understand why more women aren’t IUD users. There’s an upfront investment and a couple bad days of cramping, but we’re not messing with our hormonal thermostats.

A 2010 study by the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health — which is the previously reported Boehringer released data from a European survey called Desire and its Effects on Female Sexuality — says that many young women experience guilt and distress over their sex lives.

ABC News wrote recently of a 2008 study of 31,000 US females 18 and older  in which 10% of women aged 18 to 44 complained of low sexual desire or hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).  Note, this entire subject of medicalizing female desire has major pushback from many doctors and feminists.

For the purpose of our discussion, a 2008 study of women 30-70, the prevalence of low sexual desire ranged from 26.7% among premenopausal women to 52.4% among naturally menopausal women. The prevalence of HSDD was highest among surgically menopausal women at 12.5%.


Low Sexual Desire vs HSDD

Interpreting various studies within a standardized vocabulary is challenging in today’s Internet-driven, grab a headline world. The ABC News article confuses us, calling out 10% of women 18-44 complaining of low sexual desire or HSDD — which are not identical.

A woman can experience low sexual desire because she’s no longer attracted to her partner or he doesn’t know how to arouse her. HSDD is considered to be a more serious loss of interest in sexual activity, including sexual fantasy and masturbation or sexual activity with any partner or any gender. HSDD must be persistent over a longer period of time, and the woman must be distressed about her condition.

Millions of women experience loss of libido and it doesn’t bother them at all. A new AARP study takes up this subject, although don’t assume the older crowd has lost its sexual desire. They continue to thrive sexually.

Trying to benchmark the various conversations and data, younger women experience more concern about their lack of desire than older women. We’re not clear that there’s a vast difference among women by age on the rate of HSDD, depending on the lifestyle of the younger woman.

Age and HSDD | Theory vs Reality

In medical theory younger women experience more sexual desire and older women less. But culture, HRT, the pill, diet, stress, health and wealth have turned most of the age-driven sex-drive isms inside out.

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Can Any Female Desire Drug Make Sexy Orchids From Pure Daisies?

Orchid via Flickr’s Fort Photo

Will big pharma make orchids out of daisies?

The quest for a female equivalent of Viagra has long haunted researchers who can’t convert Viagra’s magic potency to fuel female sexual dysfunction and or a simple disinterest in sex.

Researchers gathering at the European Society for Sexual Medicine meeting next week will hear the impact of flower-themed research on 5,000 women participating in the Bouquet Studies. Dubbed Violet, Daisy, Dahlia and Orchid, the results could form the basis for applications to U.S. and European regulators.

Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH is banking on sex really being all in women’s heads. While serious medical conditions impact women’s sexual desire, response, ability to orgasm and a host of other physiological conditions, much anecdotal and scientific research indicates that the entire topic of female sexuality is very complex and deeply psychological.

Just saying those words can get you in a heap of trouble with many women professionals who are tired of being psychoanalyzed. In 2003, Ray Moynihan called female sexual dysfunction “the freshest, clearest example we have” of a disease created by pharmaceutical companies to make healthy people think they need medicine. via Bloomberg News

The medical parlance around the Bouquet studies is focused on HSDD, or hypoactive sexual desire disorder.

A basic premise of the research — also controversial — is that men aren’t to always blame for a woman’s lack of sexual desire, although they may be and they may contribute to her disinterest.

Sex is a “historical and cultural phenomenon,” said Leonore Tiefer, a psychiatry professor at New York University. There’s no baseline of normalcy by which to define a disorder, she contends.

“It’s like dancing, or music, or piano-playing,” Tiefer said. “You do it with the body, but the part the body plays isn’t the largest part.”

As a non-medical professional closely involved with female sexuality, and a disciple of Helen Fisher’s work on hormones, the brain and sexual desire, and a student of religious and cultural admonitions about women’s sexual behavior, I believe strongly in the suppression of desire theories.

Simply stated, “good girls” girls don’t do “bad things” without a lot of psychological ambivalence about how they will be judged.

One in 10 women of 31,000 surveyed by Boehringer at the start of the studies expressed distress about diminished sex drive. The results are best evaluated within a group of women who believe they have the medical condition under study.

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