Sex and drugs, and misleading CNN article titles

Image via Inkman.

Cafe lattes should be frothy, not sex educators. But when I was cruising my Google News feeds and came across the CNN article Ladies: 5 ways to get your sex life going, I clicked it, felt instantly like a total dope for giving them my click, and became frothier than a soy mocha at how utterly wrongheaded, and, well, ignorant, the article is. Because their answer for getting our sex lives going is — dope. In the piece, CNN Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen outlines five ways for women striving for sexual pleasure, and all five are drug-related. Really? Seriously? You’ve come a long way, baby, but when our major mainstream media news outlets proclaim “Sexually dysfunctional women in the United States are, well, mostly out of luck” then baby, you better take about 20 steps back for every stride forward made in the last 30 years by my predecessors. Now, I could see how one point on the list can be a roundup of drug options. But how about explanations of other reliable methods? Mother Mary and her sacred Hitachi oughta smite a writer who offers up sexual advice in the form of five ways to apologize that women are all psychological and complicated and cloying helplessly on the sidelines for that “little blue pill”. (Which, by the way, is a hell of a lot of fun for women, but no one tells you that — I tried it once, it was rather effective.) But Stella, let me tell you five ways how to begin to get your groove back:

1. Masturbate. Only *you* know how to turn yourself on and get yourself off. Yes, you want to share this but you can’t share it if you don’t know how to get yourself off in the first place. Also, masturbation (even without orgasm) gets those pelvic and urogential muscles in shape, and blood flow to all those areas will happen even if you don’t feel “in the mood” when you play with yourself. Also, do Kegel exercises. Masturbation is a way of taking care of yourself and becoming sexually self-reliant. And maybe, just maybe, it might work. If not, no big deal. But if you learn you like it a little to the left at first, and then right in the middle to get over the edge, then maybe you can tell your lover…

2. Look at, or read porn, erotica or romance. Fantasy is an essential element of sexual pleasure (that which leads to orgasm) for all genders. Do not feel guilty about having a fantasy during sex — you are not “cheating” on your lover, just getting yourself revved up to share your pleasure with them. Alone, porn can turn you on and give you new ideas. It can also show you what you *don’t* like, which is essential to know, too.

3. Stop being goal-oriented about sex. Masturbate and engage in sex acts (like penetration, oral sex, using a vibrator) without the goal of orgasm. People experience orgasm and fulfilling sexual pleasure in more ways than one blog post can cover. Just ask a sexually active person with a spinal cord injury, because these peeps do indeed have hot sex. You’re not “broken” if you don’t get turned on in the way you think you should be, or if you don’t have an orgasm. Also, free your mind and your orgasm might just follow — maybe your sexuality or gender is “different” — like most everyone. *Everyone* thinks there’s something “weird” about their sexuality. There is NO “normal” when it comes to sexual pleasure. The more you stress, the more annoyed and turned off you’ll be. Make sex your playtime, not your here’s-my-serious-face time.

4. Work toward healing past sexual trauma, check your meds for interference — and investigate all the ways sex is beneficial. Trauma and abuse leave scars, but you can still have a whole sex life. It takes work that’s sometimes hard and scary and intense, but it’s worth it, and you’re worth it — and so are the people who love you. Medications can fuck up your sex life, no doubt — even antihistamines can dry our a girl who’s normally juicy. Talk to your doc and make an informed decision — if they judge you for wanting to have a trapeze installed above your bed and think the Xanax might be why your dildo collection is gathering dust, then get a REAL doctor. Finally, read sexual health books that are sex-positive and can explain physiologically how female sexual function and orgasm work — orgasm is a cycle. Learn The Clitoral Truth, ladies!

5. Try a variety of sex toys. For some women sex hurts — sometimes for the first several months or even years of trying intercourse. Vibrators used alone can bring lots of pleasure, but held on the clit can also make penetration pleasurable — especially for anal sex. Get a few inexpensive sex toys: vibrators, a dildo, always use lube even if you think you don’t need it (mmm, Liquid Silk), use porn, even experiment with kinky funstuffs like little clit suction cups. For penetration, have him try out a cock ring that has a clitoral vibe right on top, where it’ll hit the spot.

Oh yeah, you can try drugs too. I’ve had a lot of fun with Viagra in the past, though it made my nose stuffy. Personally, my sex drug of choice is cupcake frosting.


  1. Wow…great article and quite a contrast to the CNN piece, which I would say expresses the double-standard of “let’s not talk openly about female sexual desire and practices/take a pill (only if prescribed by a doctor from your pharma company)” while ignoring the fact that there are STILL a lot of deep social programming and shaming issues surrounding sex and masturbation for women, and for many, it takes a lot of hard work to get over them. Though lolobeedo points out that medical dysfunction can and does occur even for women who are very comfortably with their sexuality. I would consider myself a very independent thinker and a “resister” who managed to shake off or deflect much of the religious/conservative sex programming for girls, but I still wish someone would have given me Violet’s list when I was a teenager or a young girl…it was still hard to get over my own ambivalence about my true sexual nature and desire and really ask for what I wanted/needed. More women need to hear this frank advice!

  2. Thanks! I was probably a bit hasty in my comments. I should add — if anyone’s curious! — that sexual dysfunction doesn’t always mean you can’t have an orgasm, either. I can, it’s just that I don’t ever crave one or feel like I *need* one anymore. I sometimes think perhaps I don’t enjoy them as much as I used to. It’s very frustrating.

    Anyway, I’ve spoken to my doctor about it numerous times, and she says there’s basically nothing that can be done physically and recommended a sex therapist. Which I’ve been putting off since it just seems so awkward to discuss in a professional setting … but perhaps it’s time I grow the ladyballs you think I have and do that!

  3. @ lolobeedo – I can’t even begin to thank you for opening up in such honest, practical detail about the realities of what this is really like for women who are experiencing this. to me, that act — you telling your story, challenging the assumptions, in detail — shines an even bigger light on the huge, practically criminal element of what’s missing in the reporting being done about female sexual dysfunction issues in outlets like CNN. they need — we women NEED — CNN and all the others to really tell the truth of what many women are *actually* going through. and they’re not. to me, you’re a hero for making this comment.

    and that’s not to say I don’t appreciate your criticism, because I do — though I think that I’d like to say in my defense that my intention was to criticize the prudishness of CNN for not openly saying what the problems really are and how they actually affect women. and especially their prudishness for painting it all over with a whitewash of medical advice. I did not mean to call women with sexual problems prudish in any way, I would never ever intend to come off like that. I was angry that CNN didn’t present all the ways we can combine various tools to try and find solutions. I absolutely do not think that women who chose medical/chemical routes are prudes at all — they are likely the opposite, even if for the sole act of standing up and saying HEY! I deserve an orgasm, maybe even a couple hundred, and you docs owe it to me just as much as men are handed the little blue pills while Big Pharma just scratches its head and goes ‘it’s complicated, that girl stuff’. a prudish woman is not brave like you are. a prudish woman sits there and takes it and says nothing. but a prudish media outlet will pretend to report on a serious issue, while not really tell us what’s going on or explain all the tools available to actually try and *help* someone with a sex problem. it’s fucking dishonest and I’m sick of it.

    that said, welcome to the site. you’re an approved anon commenter now, and I hope you’ll tell me what’s what anytime you want. I’m thankful for the time, thought, consideration and ladyballs you bring to the comments here.

  4. I think you are interpreting sexual dysfunction in a very different way to the CNN article. You are assuming female sexual dysfunction is due to psychological scarring, or a lack of self-knowledge or experimentation. That really isn’t the case for many of us.

    Sometimes, libido just disappears for unknown reasons. Mine did a couple of years ago. I used to do all the things on your list as a matter of course; I was very sexually motivated and open-minded. Then my libido just dropped off over a period of a couple of months, and I went from masturbating or having sex daily, to literally *never* thinking about sex, unless I start to feel that it’s gone a bit long without being intimate with my partner to re-connect and protect our relationship.

    I used to get really wet; now I don’t at all. My clitoris used to grow and get erect; now it stays small and overly sensitive to touch. I just don’t feel like sex, and my body doesn’t get aroused. That is the sexual dysfunction they don’t know how to treat, except with drugs. It’s literally impotence, exactly like not being able to get it up. It’s nothing to do with not being free or open-minded, and maybe I’m being sensitive about it (it really demolishes your sense of self and sexual confidence) but I find it kind of insulting that you are assuming women with sexual problems are somehow prudish.

  5. Damn straight! I had some pretty severe difficulties for years. I did not think a pill was a good solution. Based on advice from many different sources, I basically tried all of the above list. And “masturbate” as the number one aid is exactly where it should be. The difference in my libido: I went from a “2” to an “8.” Still working on getting to “eleven.”

    I cannot imagine a more fun health regimen! And I have seen health benefits, the most interesting being more regular periods.

    I hope someone in my (past) shoes reads this entry. Thanks for this excellent advice.

  6. The sexual future of the female is in many, many hands holding axes that need grinding.

    From the anti-porn Feminista to the darkly-aged Christian Fundamentalist a female, married or otherwise, certainly has a very tough road to investigate in her quest for ultimate independence.

    Ultimately the list above is about mental and emotional agility and flexibility. A feature sorely lacking in the prudish and uptight.

    The mental capacity to objectively orient oneself in a sea of sexual data can be a burden if rigidity and conventionality dominate cognitive function and visceral reaction.

    It is almost amazing that Violet has to ‘qualify’ sexual fantasy (tip 2). To many liberal minds this may seem absurd. Shockingly, it IS a necessary qualification due to the significant number of females roaming the hinterland that live in a perpetual state of sexual conviction and condemnation. I see much of this from my vantage point.

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