National Sell Stupid Sex Products Week

Laurie and Debbie say:

We knew it was National Poetry Month. Apparently, it’s also National Defense Week.

Nowhere on the web, however, did anyone declare National Sell Stupid Sex Products Week. Nonetheless, looking at our blogrolls and inboxes, clearly the moment is now.

Where shall we start?

Most of the stupidity seems to have been engineered by men, but not all. The Cambridge Women’s Pornography Cooperative has figured out “what women want.” Or something. Neither of us can say that our fantasies run to …

beautiful PG photos of hunky men cooking, listening, asking for directions, accompanied by steamy captions: “I love a clean house!” or “As long as I have two legs to walk on, you’ll never take out the trash.”

One way to look at this? If someone is doing your scut work, there’s more time and energy for sex.

Unfortunately, other than the book cover, there don’t appear to be pictures available on the Web.

Porn for Women cover

The publisher says, “Now this is porn that will leave women begging for more!” We say, sure, some women, some of the time, under some circumstances. Others might want their laundry taken out by men dressed as French maids in cute little revealing aprons. Sure, let’s just simplify women’s sexuality some more–“one size fits all” is a great way to change something from being silly into being stupid.

Over at the Allergan product site, they’ve found a whole new way to sell breast implants:

You've Never Looked Smarter

Who knew they made you smarter? Who knew that breast size had anything whatsoever to do with whatever “smart” is? We’re grateful to Allergan for pointing out this previously unrecognized connection. (And now we know that Debbie looks smarter than Laurie. Who knew?)

For equal opportunity stupidity, try penis skin cream. Unfortunately, there are no pictures, but …

Millions of American men spend billions of dollars on skin care for every other part of their body except their penis.

The message here is actually quite surprising. Sex is bad for your penis. They list four reasons why that’s true (friction, heat, chemicals in condoms, and the stress of enlargement and retraction). Age is also bad for your penis. They don’t mince words, either:

Simply by rubbing RestoreMax into the shaft of the penis twice a day and always after sex, a man can help the skin heal, recover, and restore itself despite the gauntlet of torture it is subjected to every single day. RestoreMax is not in stores, but it is available on the website. It is only $9.95, and the improvement a man can feel in his penis is priceless. (Emphasis ours.)

So for those of you who mind having your penis subjected to a gauntlet of torture every single day, help is at hand.

On the more “scientific” side of product sales, we have bremelanotide. Developed as a tanning agent to protect from skin cancer, the drug is now being touted as a way to increase “lagging female libido.” But check out the drug company’s own blog, where we find that the Phase II post-menopausal women trial was a vast and scientifically useful 27 women. What’s more (get this!) 43% experienced an increase in libido, and 40.7% experienced nausea (the latter as compared to 0% of women getting the placebo). The math is easy. We may have a 2.3% chance of “improving” our sexual response (assuming we think there’s anything wrong with it in the first place) without also getting sick to our stomachs. Neither of us like that risk/reward ratio: what about you? Of course, the news articles mention neither trial size nor side effects–in fact, it’s interesting that the product blog does.

You get your pick. But you have to admit that it’s quite a crop for one week (and really, they all showed up in two days!).

We found these through Daphne Gottlieb, epi_lj, the San Francisco Chronicle, and pantryslut, respectively.

porn, pornography, feminism, sex, breasts, breast implants, penis, penis health, bremelanotide, women, women’s sexuality, sexual arousal disorder, body image, Body Impolitic

10 thoughts on “National Sell Stupid Sex Products Week

  1. Several points here bother me.

    It seems clear to me that the “Porn for Women” book is intended as a joke, something to be given as a gag gift. Yet your commentary reads to me as “why this isn’t sexy” rather than “why this isn’t funny”. Am I misreading you, or do we see this product differently?

    Also, your analysis of the bremelanotide statistics is flawed. From the information currently available, there’s not reason to believe that the 40.7% women who experienced nausea are a subset of the 43% who experienced increased libido. It’s equally plausible that it’s a coin flip whether it helps or hurts. Either way, their information indicates they’ll be trying lower doses to reduce the rate of nausea — and the phase 3 trial involves a much larger population. Also, the success rate among pre-menopausal women was 67%.

    As an aside, the editor for the company blog also seems to have a weak grasp of either statistics or English, as zir comments implies the same people experienced all the uncommon effects, which is rather unlikely.

    Whether this specific product successfully come to market or not, FSD is a very real problem for a number of women, and dismissing this sort of research is not constructive.

  2. Very interesting article – but wanted to clear up a few things about your Bremelanotide comments…

    First off, that Bremelanotide Bulletin isn’t affiliated with Palatin Technologies, as is indicated on their home page. It simply collects and summarizes news about the development of Bremelanotide.

    Also, the Phase IIa side effect of nausea – based on what was seen at the same stage with male recipients – is almost definitely related to the dose amount. Taking a look at the results of Phase IIb with men, the largest dose they tried appears slightly LESS effective than the dosage below it… and I think Palatin researchers concluded nausea was due to the amount.

    And the comment stating “zir (sic) comments implies the same people experienced all the uncommon effects, which is rather unlikely.” . Since it’s not the official statement by Palatin, but a lay person, it is speculation not fact. It does appear suspicious that many of the minor side effects are all the exact same percentage, and in a relatively small sample group there’s a decent chance that’s exactly what happened – some candidates simply didn’t ‘agree’ with the drug. With the a lower dose, that may not be the case.

    OH – and this drug isn’t for boosting female libido for no good reason – there are many women who experience arousal disorders for many reasons that include early menopause and problems related to cancer treatments. Also – a lot of men don’t respond to viagra or cialis for ED problems, so they would make legitimate (and eager) candidates too.

  3. Nolly, we never said that the 40.7% was a subset of the 43%. The point is that you have a 2.3% greater chance of increased libido than of nausea. Just to be clear, you could be in either, neither, or both groups. The range, however, is what it is.

    It’s not my impression that the porn book is intended to be funny. No, I don’t think women are going to masturbate to it, but I do think that the authors are seriously using the word “porn” to mean “what makes women want to have sex?” and that this is their serious answer. Read some of the material about their methodology. My only gripe with this is how limited it is.

    Claire, thanks for the information. When a blog/newsletter is linked to from a drug website, if it’s not a supported blog, then they are sending a confusing message, to say the least. And yes, I agree that decreased libido can be an important problem in some women; I also believe that (as with men) it’s a culturally mediated problem which can be addressed in many ways, not only the chemical approach.

  4. Just to be neeperish … the actual probabilities (assuming, without warrant, that the two effects are independent, and that the tiny sample actually reflects real probabilities) are as follows:

    Nausea only: 23.2%
    Increased libido only: 25.5%
    Both: 17.5%
    Neither: 33.8%

    Of course, there’s also a 40.7% chance of nasal congestion, and smaller chances of things like headaches. Toss those in and the chance of getting just the desired effect pretty much vanishes up its own rectum.

    I find myself wondering who was sitting around with a tanning product and said, “Hey, I’ll bet this will get women all wet!”

    I also find myself wondering what male on Earth would consider daily exercise of his schwanschtucker a “gauntlet of torture.”

    What planet do these people live on?

  5. Sturgeon’s Lawyer said:
    “…there’s also a 40.7% chance of nasal congestion, and smaller chances of things like headaches. Toss those in and the chance of getting just the desired effect pretty much vanishes up its own rectum.”

    LOL – yes, well we must keep in mind they’re just concluding Phase IIa for the women now. Phase IIb, as far as I can tell, should determine the optimum dosage among other things…

    For instance, check out the link on that ‘Bremelanotide Bulletin’ site entitled “Phase IIb Bremelanotide Results for Men” – like I mentioned earlier, it seems pretty clear that the maximum dose was causing many of the side effects (and wasn’t as effective as a lower dose either).

    I’m willing to wait and bet they’ll find the same thing with women in their Phase IIb studies.

    Also: “I find myself wondering who was sitting around with a tanning product and said, “Hey, I’ll bet this will get women all wet!”

    One of the reasons (or the primary one?) that Palatin is a bit further ahead in their studies on men vs women is because the male subjects testing their original tanning product were getting erections. So they split up THAT product into the components that affected tanning and weight loss – so they could be tested independently – along with Bremelanotide.

    It was just a surprise they discovered this side effect of the tanning agent – they didn’t plan on it. And of course once they saw it made men aroused, they tried it on women and discovered the same thing… likely because it works on the brain and not the plumbing (like viagra etc does).

    And I – for one – am not arguing. :-)

  6. It seems obvious that the “porn” book is intended as a joke, the way people refer to “house porn”. There’s also a Jewish princess joke with the punchline “Debbie does dishes”.

  7. You may not have intended to, say the nausea groups was a subset of the arousal group, but that is what you said:
    “We may have a 2.3% chance of “improving” our sexual response (assuming we think there’s anything wrong with it in the first place) without also getting sick to our stomachs.”

    The reason certain percentages are repeated in the side-effect stats is, basically, because the sample is small: any symptom experienced by 2 people is reported as 7.4% — there’s no reason to believe it was the same 2 people having all of those at once, only that 2 people reported each of them. 40.7% — nausea, nasal congestion — is 11 people.

    I’m not entirely sure where the 43% in the Chronicle article came from, as it’s not cited in any of the blog entries, and it doesn’t map to in integral number of subjects. It’s possible that result is either badly rounded and should be 44% (12 people); it’s also possible the reported conflated results from different phases of the study. Mainstream media isn’t exactly known for accurate science reporting.

    As for the “porn” book, I did read about their “methodology”, and I believe the entire description is tongue-in-cheek. The publisher agrees — it’s listed under “Humor” on their site.

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