In one course, released online in May, a quiz asked doctors to diagnose the condition of a 42-year-old working mother who takes care of three children and her own sick mother, and who had no desire for sex. (Her husband is mentioned only in passing.)

The correct answer? Schedule a follow-up visit to evaluate whether she has diagnosable hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
(NY Times)

How about, she's in a life situation where her own needs and desires have to come last of all her priorities because otherwise she will be branded by society as a Bad Mother, a Bad Daughter, a Bad Employee, a Bad Homemaker and a Bad Wife? Really, would it come as any surprise that she might not be so interested in sex? You know, sex, that thing that's about desire and gratification and enjoyment and trust and other things she's carefully schooling herself not to expect?

In other words, her libido is doing exactly what you might expect, and we should make that a medical problem and tell her she's Sick and Problematic and Needs Medicating?

This sort of thing makes me angry.

From: (Anonymous)

that's exactly what the article was saying, I think. That the drug company had sponsored this class for doctors that was aiming to teach things that are patently insane and not at all in keeping with good medicine-- to see things in context and treat the whole patient.
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)

From: [personal profile] liv

I have really mixed feelings about this. I do agree that it's a problem to medicalize women for simply not being men, and obviously the whole commercial aspect of medicine the in the US is incredibly broken. But I am very worried about going to the other extreme of assuming that all women's sexual problems could easily be fixed by their male partners just being a bit more considerate and helping with the housework more often. That's often promoted as the "feminist" view, but it seems awfully similar to the sexist view that women don't really enjoy sex, but they're prepared to put up with it in exchange for affection or possibly social status and financial reward.

I do really appreciate your point about social expectations that mothers should be saintly and giving and unselfish, and how that doesn't always mesh well with sex. And obviously being exhausted doesn't help! But I think if I were in that position, I would be frightened and upset, I would at least be interested in the possibility of a medical way of fixing that problem. The line that article is taking is reminiscent of the way that women miss getting diagnosed with severe post-natal depression, because it's "normal" to feel a bit down when you're hormonal and sleep-deprived, or don't get adequate pain relief in labour because childbirth is a "natural" process.

And then you get into the thorny question of whether medical complaints that have a psychological element can be best handled with drugs at all. I don't want to assume that there necessarily can't be a physical solution to a psychological / mental problem, and I particularly don't want to assume that it's just natural for women to be massively unhappy, and doing anything about it is over-medicalizing. This seems to route straight back to unhelpful stereotypes: women's sexuality is so complex and mysterious that a scientist, with his rational, objective ways can't possibly understand it! Women don't have actual medical problems, they're just hysterical and attention seeking!

I don't know. It does feel like this is one of these things where no matter which way you look at it, women are set up to lose.


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