W5 Activity- Erectile Dysfunction and Viagra
“Manliness” has always been important to most cultures. Some would argue that modern manly character was only created to contrast with culturally desired female characteristics at the dawn of feminism and female empowerment. Men are culturally deemed as “doers”, they are expected to be practical and macho. The medicalization of sex, especially male “sexual dysfunction” has played out very profitably for pharma. Consumerism is the bedrock of our era in the west and is pervasive in all aspects of life. The language of customer and producer is found in the arts, education, government and healthcare. Erectile dysfunction is biomedicalized in U.S. culture because: it is profitable, it treats neuroses in contemporary men, it is a continuation of our attempts to control nature. Medicalization is rampant because the same industry that produces a treatment also defines the condition it is meant to treat (Baglia, pg 6).
The etiology and language surrounding erectile physiology has changed in the last century. For the most part of the last century researchers and therapists believed that “impotence” was caused by psychological concerns such as the fear of being unable to produce an erection i.e. “performance anxiety” (Baglia pg 3). Impotence was thought to be caused by things such as stress, fear, and depression. Now we see psychology gone from the etiology and a more masculine structurally based rhetoric of “dysfunction” used (Baglia, pg 3). Even the term “performance” brings with it airs of roles, acts, and scripts. It meddles with how men ought to act and the character they ought to have. To not perform well sexually means a man is not in line with his role as a man.
“This is the age of taking action, Viagra.”
For anyone who clicked the above link and watched the middle aged man “taking action” to “fix” his Camaro’s overheating radiator, let me tell you this: please, please do not pour a bottle of water into your overheated radiator that is the perfect way put a crack in it. Anyways the “age of taking action” campaign did not give very good car advice but it did sell lots of drugs. The advertisement used symbols of masculinity and maturity; a muscle car, sweat/hard work, stubble/grey hair, and independence. The script also subconsciously invokes shame by asking (I’m paraphrasing, but it is very close to this) why haven’t you done anything about your manhood, so many men already have why are you being lazy and not taking action?. It then “legitimizes” it as a medical condition by telling you to go see your doctor. It does not give a medical reason for why someone experiences erectile dysfunction besides their not “taking action” like “20 million men who already have”.
The Viagra Ad Venture: Masculinity, Marketing, and the Performance of Sexual Health
Viagra TV Commercial