The Little Blue Party Pill: Sex, Boners, and Lots of Viagra

Cross posted on Feminists for Choice and my personal blog.

In the past two years we’ve seen an onslaught of Republican led bills to limit women’s access to safe and affordable abortions, cheap birth control, and health care. A recent Kansas bill allows doctors to lie to women in order to prevent abortions including lying about breast cancer treatments. They’re also trying to add a 6.3% tax to abortions even for rape victims. This is just one in a slew of bills we’re seeing red states draft in order to deny women the right to choose and deny them access to affordable contraception.

But it’s not just birth control and abortion that are under attack. Women and their sexuality are now in the spotlight. After the whole Limbaugh-Fluke fiasco, Bill O’Reilly went ahead and aligned himself with the likes of Limbaugh by stating “You Want Me To Give You My Hard-Earned Money So You Can Have Sex?” To sum it up: they don’t want women getting abortions, they don’t want to help women who choose not to have an abortion, and they don’t want women using birth control. Basically, they don’t want women having any sort of sex whatsoever unless it’s to procreate. What’s interesting about all these discussions is: where the hell are the men? Somehow conservatives make it sound like women get pregnant all by their slutty selves and then recklessly get abortions. Seriously though, where are the men in this equation? Oh yeah, they’re out there having lots of sex and getting cheap and easy erections…

Not only are men entirely excluded from this whole we’re not paying for you to have sex conversation, men and their overuse and abuse of Viagra is actually defended! The common excuse I hear in defense of the little blue pill is “well, Viagra is life-giving.” So, really what it comes down to is that they seem to believe men can have as much sex as they want because, you know, they’re men. And somehow birth control promotes sex and Viagra promotes, what, abstinence?

Let’s clear a few things up here about Viagra.

First, what is Viagra?

Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Staxyn (another Bayer product similar to Levitra) are the only prescription ED drugs currently allowed in the U.S. by the FDA. All of these medications – Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra/Staxyn – work similarly by helping to increase blood flow to the penis. They are in a class of drugs known as PDE5 inhibitors.

Before I go on let me state that I personally don’t have anything against the drug. If someone wants it or needs it and they make the informed decision to use it, that’s their prerogative. Unfortunately it appears that conservatives somehow see Viagra as this magic medicine that men with erectile dysfunction desperate for babies use. This is incorrect.

So, who uses Viagra?

A study conducted by Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefit management company, found that nearly 20% of all American men over age 45 have tried erectile disfunction (ED) drugs. And since, according to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 5 percent of 40-year-old men and from 15 to 25 percent of 65-year-old men experience ED (for reasons ranging from narrowing of the blood vessels with age to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and neurological problems), these drugs have been a godsend to millions.

Recent studies show that young men are increasingly abusing Viagra and faking symptoms to obtain the drug in order to heighten and lengthen their sexual experiences. Viagra has, in essence, become a recreational sex drug and “One thing that is remarkable is it has all happened without anybody paying much attention,” says Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, a Harvard Medical School physician and researcher in sexual dysfunction.

So basically, ED or not, men use Viagra to have sex and more of it. (Representative Carpenter, where is your morality now?)

Research has also shown that not only do older men who use Viagra have a higher chance of contracting a STD because they behave in high-risk sexual behavior, but younger and middle-aged men are more likely to condone and engage in sexual activity outside of marriage once they start using Viagra. Further more, young men abuse Viagra to engage in frequent and prolonged sex with various sexual partners and they do so at a great cost to their health. The side effects of abusing Viagra aside, studies have shown that Viagra is associated with high-risk sexual behavior and with STD/HIV incidence.

What it comes down to is that men tend to use Viagra to be sexually active and often irresponsible (which by the way, leads to more unwanted pregnancies), whereas women use birth control in order to be responsible. The frequency of a woman’s sexual activity doesn’t increase simply because she is on birth control (as Rush Limbaugh notoriously believes) whereas the same cannot be said for Viagra since it is, after all, a sexual stimulant and is taken only when sexual activity is expected (birth control must be taken regularly regardless of the frequency of sexual activity).

People like Representative Carpenter have literally stated that they don’t care that, in light of birth control and abortion restrictions, low-income women may resort to unsafe and at-home abortions in order to terminate an unwanted pregnancy because you know, it’s the moral thing to do… yet they’ve forgotten all about the morality involved in men having more sex.

With the Pope approving this little blue party pill, Republicans and conservative Christians have created a system that empowers men to engage in frequent sexual activity yet penalizes and even shames women for doing the same. We have an environment where men of all ages can easily have long-lasting raging boners and women have less access to birth control and abortion. I don’t know about you guys but I truly believe that if conservatives keep following this trend of viewing women as wombs and incubators with no sexual capacity except that to satisfy men and provide them with offsprings (is it just me or is this post starting to sound like an episode of The Tudors?) women are going to find themselves lagging even further behind than we already are.

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