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
IgnatiusInsight.com


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.

5 comments:

Neil Patrick Mueller said...

Very Nice! Good call. Very Interesting.

La Muse Poetique said...

Those Cialis or whatever ones just crack me up.

"I have heart disease and cancer and I'm dying...but I didn't know it could cause ED!!!!!"

Jonathan said...

"I would think the carnage left in the wake of the post-sexual revolution would have disabused us of that notion."

The problem is that the juvenile nature of those trapped in the pattern of engaging in such degraded behavior as we see today dictates that they blame all problems on us, the ones who preach control. We need to free people to do whatever they want, remember? Desire is the end, and whatever conflicts with that desire is blamed for any problem.

The only way maintain this attitude is to hold tightly onto the notion that no problem could be one's own fault, since that would mean that one would have to change and that one's desire is actually wrong, and then they're whole position totally falls apart.

Jonathan said...

Heh. Typo - I meant "their" (you can thank Val for that; I didn't proofread fully). :)

kevin said...

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