Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Consider the raisin

Interesting article on female sexual dysfunction in the NYT Mag. Main focus is on a researcher who combines CBT techniques with Buddhist "mindfulness" to encourage focus on the body. She's guided by the theories of a colleague, who argues that for many women, "desire follows arousal":
So a typical successful experience might proceed something like this: first a decision, rather than a drive, to have sex; next, as Basson puts it, a “willingness to be receptive”; then, say, the sensations of a partner’s touch; next, the awareness of being aroused; then the “responsive desire” along with increasingly intense arousal; and at last the range of physical and emotional payoffs that sex can provide and that offer positive reinforcement
Other scientists believe that being turned on from the start is more normal and Basson's theory is "distorting the truth of most women’s erotic lives and diminishing the relevance of basic randiness."

There's some strange inconsistencies in the piece---perhaps chiefly the simultaneous premises that there is a dearth of research on female desire and a BigPharma-driven juggernaut cranking out studies to legitimize pathologization of low female desire levels. Although I can't help but wonder if any drug that makes you want to have more sex or makes sex more enjoyable could get FDA approval or widespread availability. We already have drugs that make life more fun. They're illegal.

Also of note is the coda at the end on testosterone, which is known to stimulate female desire, albeit at the cost of nasty side effects. Women given T often experience a "spike [in] sexual interest"---but so do women given a placebo. And the control group also experienced the masculinizing side effects. Are we so convinced that randiness is the province of men that we can be tricked into feeling and looking more like a Randy?
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