Posts Tagged ‘women’s sexuality’

Taken from my personal reflection paper for my Social Research Methods class:

Earlier this week I was listening to Tell Me More on NPR and Michel Martin was interviewing Lorri Brocco, a psychologist who has written a play about women’s sexuality.  Martin mentioned that the American Psychiatric Association is getting ready to release another Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders which will revise the definition of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women.  As Brocco brilliantly brings out in her play about women in the Victorian era, women’s sexuality is an area of collective knowledge that is greatly influenced by the fact that the people who initially defined women’s sexuality and treated women for the hypoactive sexual desire disorder were men, and men from a particular cultural context.  These men have a certain set of assumptions and beliefs about women’s sexuality.  I was reminded of the Documents reading, and the fact that the DSM, in defining this disorder defines the boundaries of what is and is not normal in terms of women’s sexuality.  Of course, as I have just mentioned, the DSM is also revised over time, in the same way that health statistic guidelines are revised.  So someone who may have been considered to have the disorder decades ago would not necessarily be diagnosed the same way today.  There may be statistics or research findings built from this data that shows that women are becoming more hyper sexualized or even that we are at record high or low levels of incidence of this disorder.  When you realize how that knowledge was constructed, it changes the questions that you ask.  Instead of questioning why there are more or less women with this disorder, I may question how our culture’s understanding of women’s sexuality has shifted over time.

Another interesting point that Brocco makes is that, “with the approval of Viagra in men, it’s caused many clinicians and researchers, and women themselves to say, hey, what about us?”  She goes on to point out that one reason there is not a greater understanding of women’s sexuality is that there is very little research done on the topic and very little funding available for this type of research.  Her quote illustrates that the hope lies in the profitability of a medical approach to “curing” women’s sexual dysfunction.  As a woman, it is incredibly frustrating and frightening to think that the bulk of research being done to better understand women’s sexuality will be to identify viable products that can be sold to us to “fix” the problem that men from a different context created.


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