There’s a jokey photo circulating that’s meant to be a humorous response to the (male) (Republican) attempt to make birth control illegal and/or not covered by health insurance. In it, a group of women, most of them white haired, all wearing dour clothing, old fashioned hats. They have a sign that says “Viagra Review Board.”
And it keeps bugging me to see (feminist) friends posting this as if it’s funny. Why?
There is a long, long history of women being considered the morally responsible gender, for starters, which is based on the (false) assumption that women don’t like sex. There is also a long line of feminist thought – eugenicists, anti-porn activists, & the like – who have been extremely sex negative, accusing men’s sexualities of either “ruining racial purity” (via miscegenation, because, as the thinking went, men will fuck anyone,while women innately know better & so only have sex with members of their own, appropriate race).
Similarly, women “of a certain age” and older are as well, historically, either considered the “third gender” post menopause – and that’s courtesy Simone de Beauvoir, of all people – or otherwise considered sexless, frumpy, or just unattractive. A friend of mine commented to me recently that men only seem to get more attractive as they get older, while women only decline, and as she’s a peer — well, I wanted to smack her.
So I give you Helen Mirren, who is 67 this year.
There is nothing but our own vision, and our own cultural bullshit, that allows even smart, feminist women to see men as aging well & women not aging well.
But in either case – women as sex negative and older women especially as prudish or sexless – this “jokey” response confirms and reifies (there, I said it) a bunch of ideas about women WHICH ARE THE EXACT SAME IDEAS that cause male politicians to pass laws that shame women who have sexualities – and who insist on being in control of them – in the first place, that women aren’t actually supposed to like sex, that women are only attractive when they’re young, and that any woman who is in control of her body must be a slut.
So let’s give that joke up, shall we? I mean, the Boomers are now our “women of a certain age” after all, & they were the first generation truly liberated by the pill and who were actively practicing “free love”.
That is, my feminist “Viagra review board” would be handing that stuff out to anyone who wants to continue to have sex despite physical limitations, just as they would also freely give out birth control and other safe sex tools to anyone who wanted them.
Women like sex, dammit.