W5 Activity: Erectile Dysfunction (Ellen’s Viagra commercial)

For this assignment, I chose to discuss erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is categorized as a medical condition in which a male as a difficult time, or is unable, to develop an erection or keep an erection long enough for sexual purposes. Erectile dysfunction can be caused by a multiple of things, but the most recognized cause is the impaired blood flow to the penis that occurs with age when blood vessels weaken and blood regulation is impaired. Due to the importance of an individuals sexuality and ability to engage in sexual behaviors, it’s clear why it was important to people for there to be a medication that would help with this condition. From the class material, we learned that medicalization is the control over bodies and behaviors through medical interventions and a more recently used term ,biomedicalization, is the enhancement of bodies and behaviors through medical interventions. In Western medicine, medicine is used to “normalize” the body.  These days there is a medication for just about any medical concern, from very mild to major conditions. Medication is basically essential for many people and has had both very positive and  negative associations in the medical field. The regular and over-use of medication is an indication that our culture values perfection and feeling good all the time. In the film “Pill Poppers” we can see how we have essentially been spoiled by medication because if we don’t want to deal with things such as headache or cramps, then we do not have to and can easily take medication. It shows how the Western culture has made great advancements, but also made us more lazy and unable to deal with minor medical situations without retiring to medication. Physicians are quick to prescribe medication which shows their support of a quick fix. Obtaining that quick high from medication is considered a success for many people.However, such as the biomedicalization definition eludes to, medications such as ones used to treat erectile dysfunction are also used to enhance the body. These medications are used for recreational purposes, and not just for disease treatment anymore.

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So I do not know for sure if my form of “advertisement” works for this assignment but its humorous and portrays some good points, and in addition Ellen shows clips from two popular advertisements for Cialis and Viagra which are used for erectile dysfunction. In terms of cultural values we can tell from the advertisements that even though erectile dysfunction is a common complication among men, many are still embarrassed about the issue. Although Ellen made it a humorous thing, she pointed out that the world has so many issues and yet one of the people’s main concerns is if whether or not they are perform sexually. This is because in many cultures, masculinity and sexuality are held high in terms of priorities and social roles, and those who can’t perform are looked down upon by themselves and their partners. These ED medications are not only treated a medical condition, but also serve as confidence boosters. In terms of medical presentation, I do not think the advertisements do a good job of explaining the science behind the medication and the reasons for ED. They barely mention the health aspects, instead they focus on the sexual aspect. They do this to be attractive to consumers. Doctor-patient reactions are explained in the advertisements as being easy encounters and that all you need to do is tell your doctor you are having erectile dysfunction and they will prescribe you medication for it. In other words, the advertisements don’t say that you have to prove to have a medical condition, and based off the number of men who have medication for ED and use it for recreational purposes, it seems like in this culture it is easy to get medication just because you want it or think you need it. I also found it interesting that one of the advertisements used a female spokesperson for the first time for a Viagra commercial which I feel was used as an advertising strategy.

If Ellen’s video doesn’t suffice for the assignment, here is the link to the video that is reference in Ellen’s video regarding Viagra.

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