Friday, September 26, 2008

Viagra: It's not just for old guys anymore

This is a fantastic article - I'm sorry for posting the whole thing, but it's really good. Let me know what you think!

Viagra: It's Not Just for Old Guys Anymore

Mary Beth Bonacci

Why the epidemic of sexual dysfunction? Because we've lost the sense of sexual meaning.

I am constantly amazed at the types of products I see advertised on TV.

When I was a kid, we never would have dreamed that we'd see ads for prescription medications. Who'd have wanted to? The drugs just weren't that interesting. ("Antibiotics. They'll make your bacterial infection go away in no time.") We did, however, see lots of commercials for cigarettes. (Does anybody else remember "You've come a long way, baby"?)

Gosh, how television has changed.

Advertising cigarettes on TV has been banned since 1970. (When, for the record, I was still a very young child.) Apparently the "powers that were" decided that smoking wasn't an activity they wanted to be promoting through the public airways. Which is fine with me.

But what has taken its place? Well, in the past few years, it's been drug advertisements. Specifically, we've seen a plethora of ads for Viagra, Enzite and other "male enhancement" products. (And yes, that's about as specific as I'm going to get.)

What's wrong with this picture?

First of all, smoking is apparently bad for our collective health. But we as a culture seem to believe unfettered sexual activity is just good clean fun. ("Cialis. Will you be ready?") I would think the carnage left in the wake of the post-sexual revolution would have disabused us of that notion.

And, speaking of the carnage of the post-sexual revolution, who'd have thought 30 years ago that we would all need so much pharmacological help in the bedroom?

Seriously. When these ads first came out, we all though they were targeting older Baby Boomer men who were just getting on in years and thus needed a little help, well, "getting it on." Of course, most of the ads featured handsome men with graying temples strolling the beach with well-preserved middle-aged women.

But apparently it's not just the old guys any more.

From everything I am reading and hearing, it seems we have an epidemic of partial and total impotence among men of all ages, as well as a corresponding "epidemic" of decreased sexual enjoyment among women.

Nothing is "dirty" any more. Porn shops, once found only in seedy neighborhoods, have been repackaged as "adult gift shops" and franchised into the suburbs. Provocative magazine covers, once hidden underneath drug store counters, are now proudly displayed at grocery store check stands.

But there remains one dirty little secret in our society. People may be having a lot more sex (or at least trying to). But they're enjoying it a lot less. And nobody wants to admit it.

What's the matter here?

I've known for years that studies on sexual satisfaction consistently reveal the same results. The most sexually satisfied people in America--the ones who apparently have the best and most frequent sex--are highly religious married people who saved sex for marriage. I've always seen those studies as evidence
that sex is best when it's done God's way. He intended it to speak a language--the language of self-donating love. And so it only stands to reason that it would be the most pleasurable when it takes place in that context.

There is an element of tremendous vulnerability in sexual expression. The heart is saying "I give myself to you forever." Bonding hormones like oxytocin are flooding the brain, working to create a strong emotional attachment between these two people. In the context of a loving marriage, these partners know that
bonding is taking place, and they are fully consenting and yielding to it. There is a real security and freedom in knowing that this person is planning to stick around--forever.

But sexual activity between the "uncommitted" is different. That bonding element is unwelcome. It has to be resisted. There is no freedom to yield oneself, no security, no assurance that this person will be around next year or next month or even tomorrow.

Apparently, that makes it more difficult to enjoy sexual activity.

This phenomenon, unfortunately, is not relationship-specific. It's not that a woman can have less-than-enjoyable sex throughout her dating years, and then transition easily into a happy, fulfilling marital sex life. Or that a man's promiscuity-induced performance issues will suddenly be cured by the love of the right woman. There is a reason that those most sexually satisfied Americans had saved sex for marriage. Sexual habits form easily. And sexual dysfunction brought on by premarital promiscuity will almost certainly follow young men and women into their marriages.

Americans don't seem to get this. We keep developing new drugs, new supplements. We churn out books and magazine articles aimed at "spicing up your sex life." We open more suburban porn stores. Everyone is trying to bring the pleasure back to sexual activity.

I don't see how any of it is going to help. The only way we're going to recover sexual pleasure is to recover sexual meaning. They're tied together. The real pleasure comes when we respect the language of sex, when we speak it honestly, in the context in which it belongs.

In other words, the sickness isn't in our nerve endings. It's in our souls.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Life at the Herring household

Despite my best efforts and good intentions, it seems that I cannot force myself to update our blog regularly. I really will try to do better - although until after the election, I don't think I can promise too much.

Work for me with the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide is going great! I had my first experience with public speaking on the issue last week - we couldn't find a speaker to go to Tacoma, so at the last minute I had to do it. I was so nervous, especially because the I-1000 person who I was up against was a retired oncology nurse - WAY better credentials than I could offer. But Tom reminded me that really, the facts stand on their own that Assisted Suicide is horrible public policy and bad medicine. And once people start to hear about just a few of the dangers in this proposed law, they change their minds quickly. It went really well! I'm giving all the credit to the Holy Spirit and my Guardian Angel. I think even a few minds and hearts might have been changed that night.

The election season is definitely bringing with it more hustle and bustle now that I'm working on a campaign, but I like staying busy and it's definitely a cause that I can throw myself in to wholeheartedly. If anyone has any questions about the proposed Initiative 1000, please feel free to give me a call. I'd love to talk with you about it. We've found that people, who although in principle may support Assisted Suicide, change their minds once they've heard some analysis on the illusory "safeguards" that are written in to the Initiative.

Anyway, now I guess you all know what my life has been revolving around lately...

But in reality, it revolves around my wonderful husband and this little redhead running around. When I say running, it's not quite to that point yet, although Clare is getting very confident with her walking and charges ahead fearlessly - and now she has the scars to show for it. On Sunday she sustained her first injury. Nothing major, but she sure was scared when she skidded face-first down the stairs at Mass outside the parish school. Her little nose is all red and skinned up. I'll take a picture and post it.

We celebrated her FIRST birthday on Sept. 6 - hard to believe that it's been a year already! We managed to cram a lot of family in to our little house to celebrate. Clare couldn't understand why all these people were in her house, and she wasn't so sure about the cake...kind of poked at it and played in the frosting a little at first.

The following weekend was her first zoo experience. She's been getting really interested in the neighborhood dogs lately, so we thought that she might like the zoo. We met my mom and Kristy at Point Defiance and took a walk around to look at all the animals. Clare had fun - she especially liked the animals that moved a lot, like the otters. She was pressing her face up to the glass saying, "OOO-OOO!" when she saw them swimming around playing. She also like the beluga whales as they swam by. The walruses, not so much. They were kind of boring.

We're trying to get her to learn that she doesn't need me to get to sleep. Still a work in progress. Although last night she did remarkably well and fell asleep all on her own.

At her one-year checkup she weighed in at 24.5 lbs (82%) and 31 inches long (96%). So, she's still a tall girl. She got 2 shots and didn't cry at all. I was impressed.

Here are a few recent pictures.

Clare's FIRST birthday!

She'd rather walk than be in the stroller.

Liking the view from atop Daddy's shoulders.

Learning to feed herself with a spoon. Note the bedhead and use of the left hand.