Copyright © 1998 Henrietta W. Hay
Swimming up Viagra Falls
I promised myself I wouldn't do it. I assured my friends that I would
not do it. But I just can't resist. After years of being the subject
of locker room jokes about boobs and butts from the guys, at last we
women can, in a very ladylike way of course, have our turn to go "Yuck,
Viagra is turning out to be the wonder drug of the millennium. Men are
lining up for it at pharmacies. Pfizer stock has gone through the
roof. TV, newspapers, magazines, the Internet are full of jokes about
it, most of them probably being written by women. The women haven't a
lot of practice yet, but we are learning fast.
Having lived a lengthy and what I consider a fairly normal life, I find
the furor over the drug intriguing, but really just more of an ages-old
story. The men seem to consider the pill the new wonder drug, but the
women are a bit bemused. Maureen Dowd says , "Women already think men
are led too much by their anatomy. An unscientific poll of my
girlfriends found that they would rather have a pill that could change a
man's personality for an hour AFTER sex."
Personally, I had no idea that so many men are impotent and are willing
to admit it. According to Dowd, "We are moments away from Viagra
juice bars in Brentwood, skim decaf Viagraccino in Seattle and
Viagraburgers at the White House."
The birth control Pill in the 60's began the sexual revolution. This
one may finish it. Now both men and women can start asking the
question, "Are you on the Pill?"
Since one of the side effects of Viagra is a vicious headache, it brings
a whole new meaning to the phrase, "Dear, I have a headache." The
guys may really mean it.
Lest you think I am being flippant, the little blue pill has taken off
like gang-busters. The 4000 outlet Rite-Aid drugstore chain reports
that it is filling 10,000 scripts a day, a faster starter than either
Prozac or Rogaine, also designed for instant gratification. It was even
being sold on the Web until the authorities caught up with the man who
thought it was a good idea.
Approval has come from the rich and famous -- and political. Appearing
on the Larry King Show last Thursday night, Bob Dole said, "It's a great
drug. I was in the protocol and participated in the program." The next
day Liddy Dole spoke in New York at a ceremony to mark World Red Cross
Day. Asked by reporters about Bob's participation in the study, UPI
reports that "she tee-heed and said, 'Let me just say ...that it is a
great drug.'" No further comment needed.
Approval has also come from abroad. According to Time magazine, Pfizer
has received the unofficial blessing from the Vatican for Viagra. That
is more than women have ever been able to achieve for the birth control
Since The Blue Pill is available only by prescription and retails for
about $10 a pop, the insurance companies are frantically trying to
establish policies for payment. The companies have been wrestling
with the problem for weeks: how to distinguish between real physical
need and recreational use and how many pills a month to allow.
There is quite a list of side effects with the drug, which seems only
fair. For years women have been forced to decide which disease to risk
when they decide whether or not to start taking birth control pills or
estrogen supplement. Only time will tell what choices men will have to
Time asks the question somewhat ponderously: "Is sexuality, like the
state of happiness or male-pattern baldness, just one more hitherto
mysterious and profound area of human-beingness that can be
The guys seem to think so, but most women will plead for what Dr. Ruth
calls sexual literacy.