Men’s health; Viagra’s Trojan Horse

BMJ  11 February 2009

Lately, I have been feeling more and more isolated, though I’m sure that the motives of Pele and Stirling Moss were admirable. All those soft focused ads about what are coyly termed “intimacy issues” I could only gaze at covetously, knowing that I’d never belong to that blissful utopia of well preserved, handsome couples wandering dreamy eyed into the sunset—an Elysium where sex is never down and back-seat dirty, a Room 101 of knob jokes, gay sex, and what might coyly be termed solitary recreation.
The bandwagon of effete Western decadence had started to roll, the emperor’s drunken soldiery were abed, and increasingly I was forced underground, yearning for that kinder, gentler time, that time of pre-Raphaelite innocence when I was a happy, horny guy, one equal temper of heroic hearts, an alpha male blithely exercising the droit de seignur befitting a scion of our ancient and aristocratic profession.


But I still couldn’t escape it. “Men’s health” was in my face everywhere, and like any self respecting disease awareness campaign it was bankrolled and driven headlong by the drug industry. Check out any magazine or symposium on men’s health and sooner or later there’ll be an article on erectile dysfunction and a little footnote that the magazine or symposium is sponsored by one of the relevant drug companies, men’s health being the Trojan horse from which they will flog their undoubtedly effective (so I’m told) wares.

Women’s health is multifaceted and nuanced: breast disease, osteoporosis, menopausal disorders, the importance of lifestyle, and quality of life issues, including art and literature and the pursuit of happiness and understanding the beauty and fragility of the universe. Men’s health, by brutal contrast, is crude and insulting in its simplicity; is Ermintrude cranking or not? Men’s health has become synonymous with erectile dysfunction. Anything else is just a smokescreen, nothing else matters to us, it’s the only thing we care about—a demeaning stereotype that reduces our infinite humanity to the most primal Darwinian drives.

We are no longer that strength that in old days moved earth and heaven; that which we were we are not. To paraphrase Richard Gordon, you can’t lead a gift horse to water and then look up its arse. The horse has already penetrated the walls, and Ulysses, Diomedes, Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis are rampant in the city, violating the women, laying ruin the temples of Apollo, setting high Pergamon aflame, and hurling down the topmost towers of Ilium.

And relentlessly undermining the men-folk’s confidence.


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