For years those Viagra and Cialis commercials that mention four-hour erections were a source of considerable entertainment in our family. Even in middle school my daughter used to laugh at that disclaimer. Granted, it’s not a funny issue for those grappling with a four hour erection. But the image it leaves in your mind is rather compelling.
It also happens to symbolize the problems so many men seem to have in protecting their sense of personal virility. Once you put it out there that you’re a man with a hard on for life, it can be tough to take it back.
Still, products like Viagra remain a highly favored approach for men seeking to regain or sustain their sexual prowess. And it’s not just about age. It’s about performance and “feeling like a man,” whatever that means. So it’s a broadcast appeal that products like Viagra and Cialis use to help men feel more like men.
So let’s just call it the Viagra Effect for a moment, and consider what it really means for men to be chemically encouraged to run around all the time acting like dicks.
Insurance companies are notably ambivalent about covering the cost of Viagra. The website Personalhealthinsurance.com says this about the drug:
“The high cost of Viagra, averaging $22 to $24 per pill, leads many men to seek health insurance coverage for this drug. However, insurance companies have been ambivalent about their coverage for ED drugs, with some insurers picking up the cost and others refusing to cover any portion of the bill.
For example, Medicare Part D does not cover any type of erectile dysfunction drug. This is bad news for the elderly population, the largest group of men who need the help provided by ED medications. On the other hand, many private insurance plans, such as Aetna and United Healthcare, make provisions to cover the cost of Viagra or other ED drugs when deemed “medically necessary” by a doctor and if the patient’s state of residence requires them to do so. HMOs usually cover Viagra with a higher co-pay than for other drugs.”
We might start by considering why these products are seem to be so highly favored by politicians seeking support for their campaigns. You really don’t hear many politicians blaming men for trying to get erections. Supporting legislation that helps pay for penis power like Viagra and Cialis is likely good politics. Giving men real power over their own penises is of course a good way to win favor with male voters.
Name calling and shaming
But by contrast, it has not been an equal playing field for women seeking help from insurance companies to pay for birth control. Men like Rush Limbaugh branded Sandra Fluke a “slut” for proposing (and defending) the idea that women should have control over their own reproductive and sexual lives.
It proves there is a fine line between having a dick and being a dick. When men demand control over women’s bodies by blocking legislation to help women protect against unwanted pregnancies through insurance coverage, or de-funding legitimate services such as Planned Parenthood, that is men acting like real dicks.
On being a dick
Being a “dick” is defined by UrbanDictionary.com as “conducting oneself in an inappropriate manner to the annoyance of others.”
And for the last 20 years or so (and more, dating way back to the Catholic Church banning use of birth control) conservative men in all their misogynistic glory have been acting like one big band of collective dicks. This war on women isn’t all that hard to prove. The constant barrage of legislation against women’s reproductive rights alone is testimony to the jerkwater ways of the GOP.
This war on women has included prohibitions of even teaching about contraception.
- According to the Guttmacher Report, “Mississippi, which had long mandated abstinence education, adopted provisions that make it more difficult for a school district to include other subjects, such as contraception, in order to offer a more comprehensive curriculum. A district will now need to get specific permission to do so from the state department of education.”
It’s pretty clear that what the GOP wants is a female populace that is both ignorant and available according to some strangely repressive notion that a woman in control of her own body cannot be controlled in other ways. This scares the ever living heck out of insecure men. And who among the current list of GOP candidates is speaking out on behalf of women’s rights and reproductive health? (sound of crickets)
The GOP maintains a real hard-on for gaining and exerting control over women. Lurking behind this attitude is the notion that it is somehow “immoral” for a woman to prevent her partner from impregnating her. Yet there are Republican representatives who even insist that an abortion should not be available to women who were raped. This is a sick mind at work, and the sign of someone being a real dick.
A bible lesson
The cruelty of this type of control stems from long-held patriarchal beliefs that women are essentially the property of men. Consider this tale from the book of Esther. The book opens with a scene in which King Xerxes gets a little drunk and decides to show off his bride to his guests. This is what happens.
10 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas— 11 to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.
The incident quickly turns political as King Xerxes, in a fit of fear and panic over his wife’s seeming disobedience, consults with his advisors. This band of men suggests to him that Queen Vashti must be banished as a sign that women must be subservient lest the social order be disrupted. That is political, sexual control in action.
Stuck in the past
And truly, things haven’t changed in more than 2000 years. This ugly battle of control over women has remained at the heart of the social order and persists in America and other countries to this day. Men behaving like total dicks are still trying to get their Queen Vashti’s to fall in line.
But notice that the king was literally drunk with power when he issued is command to the Queen. So let’s ask the question. Would you, as a person, want to comply with the demands of such a patronizing dick? Not likely. Thus Queen Vashti stood her ground and refused to comply with the obnoxious king’s command to show herself off for the court. And rightly so.
How very interesting that in today’s political environment these types of power plays are still taking place. When the Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly dared to question the king of all pompous dicks, Donald Trump, she was immediately banished from the air. That was her punishment for having the audacity to challenge male dominance on the air. Never mind that it was a debate where people are supposed to answer hard questions.
It is notable that all of Donald Trump’s answers to questions of policy are flaccid attempts at gaining favor with voters. This is a man that has run around erecting tall towers in testament to his business virility. His bankruptcies show his true character however. These amounted to a failure in prowess, and Trump bloviates to obscure all evidence of his failures. He surrounds himself with thinly clad women as a sign that he is the King of All Dicks. But in truth Trump, like so many men fearful of the intellectual and personal power of women is a man running scared in this world.
This attitude can do nothing but pervert the perspectives of a man obsessed with self and personal power. Here’s what Trump said about his own daughter: “I don’t think Ivanka would do that [pose for Playboy], although she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
That is the statement of a real dick. And when challenged on his sexist presumptions at any level, Trump goes the attack. This is his discourse on Rosie O’Donnell. “Rosie O’Donnell is disgusting — both inside and out. If you take a look at her, she’s a slob. How does she even get on television? If I were running The View, I’d fire Rosie. I’d look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers and say, “Rosie, you’re fired.” We’re all a little chubby but Rosie’s just worse than most of us. But it’s not the chubbiness — Rosie is a very unattractive person, both inside and out.”
And so it goes.
Let’s face it, the model for conservative behavior in this world has not evolved from the time of King Xerxes. This combination of fearful response and dismissiveness in the face of intellectual challenges is a pattern that must be broken in order for society to evolve.
We might start by acknowledging that Queen Vashti was right to deny the drunken, lustful commands of King Xerxes, and take that as a model for modern and justifiable behavior. If we have to start from a biblical perspective to get the selfish dicks of the world to understand that our social order has evolved through technology, medicine and social progress, then so be it.
We might also ask the GOP to stop acting like a bunch of dicks. That would help.