I got really excited today when Susan Davis, a Melbourne physician who has conducted umpteen clinical trials trying to find a testosterone treatment for women with sexual complaints that will work better than placebo (keep trying, Susan), accused feminists who criticize the testosterone quest of being “frigid cold fish.” You can hear this for yourself at 7:45 min into the Canadian news show, 11/21/12, “The Current.” You know you might be on the winning side when they start calling you names on nationwide radio! Davis was being interviewed as the principal investigator of a new testosterone drug now in clinical trials in Australia and North America and her interview was followed by one with one of our celebrity cold fish, Barbara Mintzes, the reknowned Canadian analyst and exposer of marketing misinformation.
Challenging the medicalization of sexual problems has long been the focus of my (Tiefer) work, from skepticism about diagnoses that overemphasize physical performance at the expense of relationships, education and subjective experience to closely following the 14-year failed hunt for a pill, patch, spray, gel, or nasal formulation that could be marketed for women’s sexual complaints.
As a sex therapist in New York, I know women have sexual complaints, trust me. But, as Barbara Mintzes so effectively argued today on The Current, complaints are not necessarily medical problems, testosterone has failed in the past (so why do they keep pushing it,) the website of the company with the new drug is already chock-full of prevalence and severity misrepresentations, and women in trials have no way of knowing the previous failed history of these drugs because of Health Canada’s secrecy policies.
The saga of the “hunt for the female Viagra’ offers the entire landscape of tactics of “disease-mongering,” and it’s always fun to talk about because – well – it’s fun to talk about sex, and it’s great to have such a transparent example. I’m going to have to figure out how to work a few “cold fish” jokes into my future lectures, tho.