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The myth of female sexual dysfunction and its medicalization

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My paper discusses and challenges the essentialist view that female sexual dysfunction is a medical disorder which will be cured once a drug has been developed. Lack of sexual desire in women can be caused by complex inter-linked factors such as socio-cultural, economic, psychological, narrow gender roles and beliefs which influence women's and men's sexual expectations. Medicalizing female sexual dysfunction ignores these important factors and presumes all women's sexual responses are genitally centred and universal. Women's sexual pleasure and satisfaction is still dominantly defined from the male-centred standpoint. Phallocentricism presumes all women want, need and must enjoy sexual intercourse. Despite the fact that this privileges male sexuality and satisfaction, any woman who does not desire sexual intercourse or prefers other sexual activities is sexually dysfunctional, since normal sexual functioning is physiological.
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Keywords: female sexuality; medicalization; sexual dysfunction; women

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Metropolitan University UK

Publication date: August 1, 2003

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