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On the Notion of KY Men Needing Spousal Notes to Get Viagra

Written by Emma Glassman-Hughes

 

***Here’s the scoop: when we posted on FB about a proposed (non-confirmed, mostly tongue-in-cheek) Kentucky bill that threatened to restrict the sexual freedoms of men (like, in the same way we restrict the sexual freedoms of women), the ‘YASSS’s’ were in short supply and we got a lot of comments that left me in disbelief. Let’s back up:

Before we get started, it's crucial to note: when it comes to champions of reproductive justice, which def include representative Marzian, the restriction of men’s sexual freedoms is waaaaay not the objective. Marzian’s bill proposition is purposefully ironic in an effort to prove a point. So, let’s put this out there: the intent of reproductive justice advocates is to construct and nurse a culture of sex positivity; a utopia where sex is safe, consensual, legal, good, and abundant, and where the only pregnancies that occur are those that were planned and/or are wanted. The intent is to foster an environment where birth control and reproductive healthcare are as readily available and encouraged for women as Viagra is for men. The intent is to shut down the shame and the denial surrounding female sexuality so that we can finally accept that women will continue having non-reproductive sex no matter how many times governments tell them not to. The intent is to take religion out of sexual politics, and to de-brainwash people who believe sex is a necessity for men, but a luxury for women. (The intent is to repeat "the intent" as many times as we can). That, among other things, is what we’re fighting for here.

Using Viagra--a symbol for the sexual health and needs of men--as a backdrop and a tool for the conversation, functions not as an ‘attack on men,’ but as a looking-glass through which all of the FB commenters and the proverbial commenters of the world who rush to the defenses of men in cases like these, can peer into the world of those who value the sexual autonomy of women the same as the sexual autonomy of men. So that they can experience the frustration of the government’s condescension and paternalism firsthand, the way women do all the time. It’s a way of speaking their language to give them a way to empathize. And with female sexual autonomy swinging in the balance alongside hard-fought reproductive freedoms that are in jeopardy now more than any other time in recent history, there could not be a more urgent need to use male politics against men (in jest), to shine light on the hypocrisy, and to make statements as bold as Marzian’s.

 

Alright, now, why I was driven to write this piece: 

Followers read about the bill, proposed by Kentucky state rep. Mary Lou Marzian to the male-dominated House, that would require men seeking Viagra, the popular erectile dysfunction drug, to undertake the same excessive measures as those forced upon women seeking abortions (measures based on a brand new Kentucky law that requires women seeking abortions to obtain a medical consultation 24 hours before the procedure).

Comments flooded our Facebook post, describing the unfair nature of the mere suggestion of Marzian’s bill. They voiced anger about “wasting taxpayer money" on phony legislations, and about how “some men are embarrassed by their erectile dysfunction," and that it's cruel to make them talk to people about it. Some commenters felt the bill had "nothing to do with abortion and contraception,” while others felt bad for guys who are just trying to have a good time. Some thought it was condescending to imply that men couldn't handle their own sexual health without government intervention, and so on.

"Under the legislation by Ms. Marzian, a Democrat, men would have to navigate a series of obstacles before they could obtain erectile dysfunction drugs, like Viagra."GET IT, KY.

Posted by THINX on Tuesday, 16 February 2016

 

It was clear that the FB post represented a microcosm of the bigger picture of sexual healthcare politics in the U.S.: a lot of Americans are willing to recognize and protect male sexuality, while far fewer appear willing to do the same for women. You may be thinking, waaaaiiiit. Isn't that, like, dictionary definition, point-blank-status sexism? Well, yeah. It is. So there must be a clear misunderstanding here, right? 

Marzian actually said she proposed it not because she thought the bill would pass or even receive a hearing, but because she wanted to “wake up women all over Kentucky.” We may not be in Kentucky, Mary Lou Marzian, but we’re wide awake. And we’re with you! But maybe some people didn’t see the point. For us, it was a no-brainer to share and promote the story with an understanding of Marzian’s intentions, but the reception of the story is what’s important here, as it showcases precisely why what she did makes sense: when people find themselves appalled by the notion of men being screened in the same way women are, they *hopefully* realize how screwed up it is that women are screened that way at all.

This woman revealed the true condition of sexual healthcare in the United States: when injustice threatens a dude, people pay attention. Four for you Mary Lou, you go Mary Lou! You did the damn thang.

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