Big Pharma, Women, and the Labour of Love

Big Pharma, Women, and the Labour of Love

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By Thea Cacchioni
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2015
World Rights
184 Pages
ISBN 9781442611375
Published Jul 2015
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ISBN 9781442642478
Published Jul 2015
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ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442694118
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In 2010, Thea Cacchioni testified before the US Food and Drug Administration against flibanserin, a drug proposed to treat low sexual desire in women, dubbed by the media the “pink Viagra.” She was one of many academics and activists sounding the alarm about the lack of science behind the search for potentially lucrative female sexual enhancement drugs.

In her book, Big Pharma, Women, and the Labour of Love, Cacchioni moves beyond the search for a sexual pharmaceutical drug for women to ask a broader question: how does the medicalization of female sexuality already affect women’s lives? Using in-depth interviews with doctors, patients, therapists, and other medical practitioners, Cacchioni shows that, whatever the future of the “pink Viagra,” heterosexual women often now feel expected to take on the job of managing their and their partners’ sexual desires. Their search for sexual pleasure can be a “labour of love,” work that is enjoyable for some but a chore for others.

An original and insightful take on the burden of heterosexual norms in an era of compulsory sexuality, Cacchioni’s investigation should open up a wide-ranging discussion about the true impact of the medicalization of sexuality.

Thea Cacchioni is an assistant professor in the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of Victoria.

Preface: Testifying at the FDA
Introduction: The Labour of Love in the Sexual Pharmaceutical Era
Chapter One: The Rise and Decline of Pharma’s ‘Sexual Revolution’
Chapter Two: Treating Women’s Sexual Pain: Biomedicalized, Demedicalized, and Do-It-Yourself Approaches
Chapter Three: The Limits of Normative (Hetero) Sex
Chapter Four: Sex Work: A Labour of Love
Chapter Five: Refusing Heteronormative Sex Work
Chapter Six: A Woman’s Work is Never Done
Epilogue: The Sexual Pharmaceutical Industry and Its Discontents

Appendix 1: Women’s Sexual Problems: a New Classification
Appendix 2: Participant Profiles (in Alphabetical Order)
Appendix 3: Biofeedback Readout

“Thea Cacchioni’s book is well thought-out, beautifully written, and important. Her research shows that women themselves are not clamoring for a pink Viagra. If anything, they deserve a break from the labors of love that they perform.

Meika Loe, Women’s Studies Program, Colgate University

“For this excellent overview of medicalization, female sexuality, and Big Pharma, Cacchioni gives us theory from gender studies and sociology, activism from a participant observer perspective, and some fascinating original research that will be of interest to clinicians. She digs below the rhetoric of female sexual empowerment to uncover a highly important unexplored stratum of ‘relationship sex work’: the ‘labor of love.’”

Leonore Tiefer, Department of Psychology, New York University School of Medicine

Big Pharma, Women, and the Labour of Love is a model of ethical and engaged research on a deeply intimate and sensitive subject.”

Jennifer Terry, Department of Women’s Studies, University of California, Irvine

‘Cacchioni’s empirical material is at its strongest and her analytical sharpness is most challenging when applied to the labour of love.’

Ericka Johnson, Science and Public Policy, August 2016

‘This book is a joy to read… It is important to recognize this book as relevant documenting evidence for a historical moment, a moment when the ‘pink Viagra’ is approved for women’s consumption – whether they want it or not.’

Nayantara Sheoran Appleton, Journal of International Women’s Studies vol 17:04:2016

‘Thea Cacchioni’s book is a significant, substantive treatment of contemporary women’s sexual practices and experiences… The book is a must read for therapists who address clients’ sexual relationships and sexual practices.’

Maureen C. McHugh, Women’s Reproductive Health vol 3:02:2016

"Big Pharma, Women and The Labour of Love by Thea Cacchioni is smart and crisp, and of compelling interest to every Canadian interested in sex or money – so, pretty much everybody.”

Holly Doan, Blacklocks Reporter, August 29, 2015

From The National Post, September 18, 2015:
“On the eve of its release, question remains: is ‘pink viagra’ solving a problem that doesn’t exist?”
Read the article and watch an interview with Thea Cacchioni.