Reality of women taking sex drugs
There is a good metaphor about tea and sex and consent. If a woman doesn't want tea, don't make her drink tea. If a woman asks for tea and then changes her mind, don't make her drink the tea! And if a woman is asleep, but you've made her a cup of tea, don't pour it down her throat when she's unconscious!
But these days, there's a new twist in the metaphor. What if you really want to drink tea with a woman, but she doesn't enjoy drinking tea? Should you give her drugs to make her want the tea? Is that a good solution?
This is not a hypothetical. It's completely legit. It's the 'female Viagra', and it's on the market. Of course it is not without its problems. The first version was Addyi, a daily pill designed to increase a woman's sex drive. Unfortunately, Addyi's side effects included dizziness, nausea and dry mouth; it might have turned you on, but you felt revolting once you started shagging. Oh, and it led to unconsciousness when mixed with alcohol, so no warm-up glass of wine or champers before the actual event.
Despite these side effects, Addyi's success rate was low. At best, women reported one extra 'sexually satisfying event' per month, but whether that was due to the Chris Hemsworth film on TV or the drug, no-one could say.
A new version of female Viagra, only the second approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, has just been released.
Vyleesi is an injection, not a pill, and needs to be administered about 45 minutes before sex commences. So, it's sort of like putting the kettle on in the hopes that you'll want tea, except that the kettle is a needle, and you're sticking it into your thigh.
In clinical trials, Vyleesi was found to increase desire in only a quarter of women, but produced nausea is around 40 per cent, according to the FDA. So it's fairly unlikely you'll feel like drinking your tea, but it's reasonably certain that you'll feel ill afterwards. Chris Hemsworth on TV offers far better odds.
Still, even if these drugs were more effective, are they actually a good idea? After all, sexual desire in women is complicated and sensitive.
It can be affected by all sorts of emotional and physical factors, including stress, exhaustion, chronic illness, mental health, and self-esteem.
But it is also inextricably linked to the relationship with the sexual partner. I know plenty of women who had no desire whatsoever for their husbands, but who had a rollicking good time with new men once they left their marriages.
They thought they were tired of tea, but, in fact, they just didn't like that flavour. They found a new type of leaf, and boom! It was all on again.
What if the woman's relationship with her sexual partner is inadequate? What if she no longer finds her partner desirable? What if she's been having sex with the same man for decades and is bored? Should she take a pill, or maybe work on the underlying issues, or - gasp - honour her feelings?
And even if all else is genuinely well, but she has simply lost her sex drive, whose interests are being serving by her taking medication? Is it worth the side effects, and the risks? Does she really need to be forced to want tea?
'But hey!' I hear you shouting, 'we have Viagra for men, right?' Yes. Yes we do. Except … the real Viagra doesn't create desire. It creates ability. Viagra doesn't make a man want to drink a cup of tea. It helps the man who is already thirsty to keep his cup stiff (so to speak) long enough to drink it. And it doesn't involve injections or a vomit after a shag.
Look, we women go through so much just to be able to have sex. We take contraceptive pills. We get IUDs. We get Pap smears. We get pregnant! Do we need injections and nausea on top of everything else?
Perhaps medicating women to feel desire isn't the greatest solution. If she really doesn't want tea, and the tea can't be made more appealing, then maybe - just maybe - don't boil the kettle.