Theology of the Body Thursday #31: Women’s Viagra

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I talked about it before and I doubted they’d do it, but they did.

Late last month the FDA has approved a Viagra for women called Addyi. To the FDA’s defense, they have approved it with a number of unusual restrictions such as only a physician trained specifically in this drug can prescribe it and it has to have a major warning label forbidding use of the drug with alcohol.

An odd mix of sex activists, sex therapists and social conservatives who will likely never agree on anything else ever again are all criticizing this medication. It has only a 15% success rate and even then, it only makes a small positive change in the patient’s sex life. It has some awful side effects including a risk of fainting.

Unlike Viagra, Addyi has to be taken daily for months before you can feel any affects. This puts you constantly at the risk of fainting, unable to drink or to safely drive or use heavy machinery even if you have no immediate plans of having sex. It was originally made to be a anti-depressant, but after the drug company failed to get FDA-approval, they repackaged it as a treatment for low sex drives in women. Speaking of the drug company, this isn’t the first time Sprout has messed up.

Pretty good illustration of men's sex drive vs. women's sex drive

Pretty good illustration of men’s sex drive vs. women’s sex drive

Anyone can tell you, sex is much more complicated for women than it is for men. Women need to feel safe, they need to feel like they can trust their partner, and they need to feel an emotional connection. It makes sense given a woman’s amazing capability to bring new life. They need to feel like the person they are with will stick around for the long haul to raise whatever potential life could come from this act. All of these very natural, understandable things cannot be fixed by a simple pill.

Starting in October, a drug company will start to try to sell women a drug to solve problems that cannot be solved by drugs and their particular medication is not only ineffective, but outright dangerous.

Here's what it looks like so you can avoid the trap.

Here’s what it looks like so you can avoid the trap.

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John Paul II and the Meaning in Suffering

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Believers are called to develop the insight of faith, as they look at the sublime and mysterious value of life, even when it seems frail and vulnerable. “This outlook does not give in to discouragement when confronted by those who are sick, suffering, outcast, or at death’s door. Instead, in all these circumstances it is open to perceiving in the face of every person a call to encounter, dialogue and solidarity.” (Evangelium Vitae). This task especially involves health professionals: doctors, pharmacists, nurses, chaplains, men and women religious, administrators, and volunteer workers who, by virtue of their profession, are called in a special capacity to be guardians of human life. However, it also calls into question every other human being, starting with the relatives of the sick person. They know that “the request which arises from the human heart in the supreme confrontation with suffering and death, especially when faced with the temptation to give up in utter desperation, is above all a request for companionship, sympathy, and support in the time of trial. It is a plea for help to keep on hoping when all human hopes fail.” (Evangelium Vitae)

-St. John Paul II, Message for World Day of the Sick, Castel Gandolfo, August 6, 1999

Theology of the Body Thursday #16: Dolce & Gabanna on Gay Adoption and Surrogacy

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This week fashion designers Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce came out against gay adoption and surrogacy. They are both gay men (they had been in a relationship for 23 years) and have previously spoken out against gay marriage. The backlash against them was swift and powerful with some very big names joining the boycott against the designers. What struck me, however, was how similar their views are to the views of the Catholic Church.

From AP

From AP

They are both Italian natives, I wonder if they were raised Catholic. I cannot find anything to either confirm nor dispute this theory, but if they were, their catechists should be proud and here’s why:

Dolce and Gabbana’s Comments Quotes from Catechism of the Catholic Church
“Procreation must be an act of love.” “A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment.”- CCC 2366
“…the family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging.”

 

 

“The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life.” – CCC 2207
“We did not create the family. It is the icon of the Holy Family.” “The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.” – CCC 2205
“A child needs a mother and a father. I could not imagine my childhood without my mother. I also believe that it is cruel to take a baby away from its mother.” “A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The “supreme act of marriage” is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged “right to a child” would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.” – CCC 2378

Now, there is one big difference and it is a difference that I don’t think Dolce and Gabbana intended. Like any parent, Sir Elton John was offended by any implication that his children were somehow subhuman because of their birth from a surrogate. A child is not somehow less human because of the immoral mode of their conception. Every child is a gift regardless of the circumstances of their birth. As “Begotten not Made,” an article by Dr. John M. Haas on the USCCB website states:

Human beings bear the image and likeness of God. They are to be reverenced as sacred. Never are they to be used as a means to an end, not even to satisfy the deepest wishes of an infertile couple. Husbands and wives “make love,” they do not “make babies.” They give expression to their love for one another, and a child may or may not be engendered by that act of love. The marital act is not a manufacturing process, and children are not products. Like the Son of God himself, we are the kind of beings who are “begotten, not made” and, therefore, of equal status and dignity with our parents.

Given their words quoted above, I somehow doubt that Dolce and Gabbana meant to insult Elton John’s children, but may have meant to give Elton John and people like him something to think about.

Seriously, though, test tube babies are still babies.

Seriously, though, test tube babies are still babies and worthy of all the dignity and respect that is their due as human beings.

Theology of the Body Thursday #11: The Pill for Men?

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Recently I was reading America and the Pill (stay tuned for a review). Chapter 5 of the book talks in great detail about the attempts to create a birth control pill for men. Just this week, we have seen studies show that the Pill for women may be connected to a rare form of brain cancer. This book brought up some interesting reasons why a birth control pill for men has never been created and sold.

It is not a matter of science. As they were developing the pill for women, the scientists gave the pill to men in an insane asylum just for the heck of it. Before you judge, rules and regulations surrounding testing on humans were much looser in those days, everyone was doing stuff like that and no one thought it was wrong. Anyway, the tests helped scientists develop many ideas on how to make a pill for men with mixed success. Shortly after the pill was released for women, scientists predicted that a pill would be out for men within a few years. Well, it’s been 58 years and we’re still waiting.

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Why?

In past generations, pharmaceutical companies were worried that men wouldn’t take it. No point in committing man-power and money to a pill that won’t sell. Why wouldn’t they take it? Because they linked their fertility to their masculinity. Being sterile would make the man feel like less of a man.

This argument killed the pill for men, but it didn’t kill the pill for women and our fertility is an even bigger deal. Our entire bodies are in it. Our moods and physiology are completely wrapped up in our cycles. When new life is created, our bodies change to make room and to be prepared for motherhood once the child is born. How is it that men associated their masculinity with their fertility, but women had a much easier time throwing their fertility away?

This is not as much an issue in today’s generation. Today’s men do not associate their masculinity with their fertility. Some men in the survey conducted by the author in America and the Pill even welcomed such a change. (However, a recent article in The Guardian argues differently.)

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So, where is it? Male scientists didn’t and still don’t want to expose men to the risks. They don’t want to expose men to the side effects. All of the formulas that were tested in the beginning on men had the same side effects as the women’s pill. But when the women test subjects complained about side effects, they were written off and ignored. Scientists thought they were exaggerating or that the effects were psychosomatic. Silly women! When the male subjects complained, the offending formula was thrown out. God forbid we mess with a man’s sex drive!

Notice: Sex-related pills for men work to make them more virile while pills for women suppress our fertility and our sex drive.

I have to ask along with Matt Walsh, where is the feminist rage? It’s no surprise that women were written off in the 50s as being silly, but why are women being written off now when the pill that many use can give them brain cancer!

And why are we willing to give up our fertility so easily? Because we can die bringing life into the world? Because women are still given the bulk of the responsibility in child-rearing? Because, as the aforementioned Matt Walsh pointed out, we’ve been sold on the lie that our worth is based on our job? We have gone from one extreme of expecting all women to be mothers to the other expecting all women to be sterile.

Let’s find a balance. Let’s respect the woman who has 4 kids before she’s 30. Let’s respect the woman who runs a Fortune 500 company. Let’s respect the woman who, for no fault of her own, cannot have children.

LET’S

RESPECT

WOMEN.

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Theology of the Body Thursday #5: The Birthing Body

Every year on Labor Day, an organization called Improvingbirth.org arranges protests and various social media activism events to bring awareness to the state of birth in the US. The US has one of the highest maternal and the highest infant mortality rate in the industrialized world. An untold number of women carry with them horrific birth stories. Many more women suffer from post-partum depression and psychosis.

I have my own traumatic birth story to tell, so I have participated in some of these events and I always keep an eye out on what their organization is doing. This past year, they asked people to share their birth horror stories as part of their #breakthesilence campaign.

One woman shared two that I would like to share with you.

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Her first child, she was unable to keep, so she made the decision to give him up for adoption. Her caregiver in the hospital could not handle the emotion of seeing a woman labor to give a child up, so she drugged this woman senseless.

What does this say about our world? If the woman was so drugged she doesn’t remember a thing, she was probably drugged enough to cause harm to the baby. It is her birth experience, not her caregivers. Are we so self-centered that we can’t think of someone else’s needs? Furthermore, are we so self-centered that if there is “nothing in it for me” we just want to get it over with? Is that part of the mentality that lets abortion thrive: mothers not wanting to go through nine months of pregnancy and labor in order to give peace and joy to someone else, not to mention the chance to live? This woman did the honorable thing to give her son a chance at a better life, the least she deserved from her caregivers was respect.

toomanykidsbirthstory

One of my favorite stories from my boss at JPII Center is the birth of one of her last kids. She is the mother of 7 children. After every childbirth, she was condescendingly asked about artificial birth control options. After one of the last, she finally just lost it on the doctor. I still haven’t heard exactly what she said to him, but I know it wasn’t G-rated.

Why do we set the limit at 2? It’s usually after 2 that a family gets deemed “too big.” Is it because we just don’t see many families bigger than two nowadays? Why is that?

In my Humanae Vitae class this past week we read a part of the letter that talks about how “we know better now the costs of raising a child.” What?!?! How insulting is that to our ancestors? Do you think that our ancestors didn’t know the costs of having big families? They had to care for and feed all those children. They watched more than their share die before the age of 5.

Just a couple generations ago, Margaret Sanger watched her mother die from tuberculosis intensified by having a large family and heard the cries of poor women who just couldn’t take it anymore. Of course, we all know what her answer to that cry was and I would hope any reader here would know what my opinion is of that answer, but my illustration still stands. These women knew full and well the sacrifice of large families. Our ancestors weren’t idiots. Post-modern man, get over yourself!

This seems to be related to the other picture in that we’ve lost a sense of sacrifice. We’re so caught in our creature comforts. Sacrifice has always been difficult for us; after all, it’s called sacrifice not plentifulness. As our society has gotten more and more wealthy, as technology has made our lives simpler, we have become less and less willing to sacrifice. We are meant to be a gift to one another. That’s what Theology of the Body is all about.

This woman has been a gift to her children. God bless her! She should be admired, not silenced.

What Reasons do Christians Give for Human Dignity?

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Every person, from the first moment of his life in the womb, has an inviolable dignity, because from all eternity God willed, loved, created, and redeemed that person and destined him for eternal happiness. If human dignity were based solely on the successes and accomplishments of individuals, then those who are weak, sick, or helpless would have no dignity. Christians believe that human dignity is, in the first place, the result of God’s respect for us. He looks at every person and loves him as though he were the only creature in the world. Because God has looked upon even the least significant child of Adam, that person possesses an infinite worth, which must not be destroyed by men.YOUCAT, Question 280