T. Cacchioni – Big Pharma, Women, and the Labour of Love

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An original and insightful take on the burden of heterosexual norms in an era of compulsory sexuality, Big Pharma, Women, and the Labour of Love by UVic’s Thea Cacchioni should open up a wide-ranging discussion about the true impact of the medicalization of sexuality.

About the Book

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.

About the Author

Thea Cacchioni is a sociologist who studies the medicalization and healthicization of sex. Her work examines biomedical and ‘self-help’ explanations of women’s sexual ‘dysfunction’ and the emotional and sexual labour women undertake when thea cacchioniattempting to ‘solve’ unpleasurable sex. She is also involved in the New View Campaign, a group which challenges contemporary trends in sexual medicalization. In 2010 and 2015, she testified at an FDA advisory hearing against the approval of Flibanserin, a daily anti-depressant drug proposed to treat ‘hypo-active sexual desire disorder’ in pre-menopausal women despite several ‘unsexy’ side effects. In 2010, she was awarded the Ruth Wynn Woodward Chair in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University. Over the course of that year, she organized a major international conference connecting scholars, artists, activists, and health practitioners who critically engage with psychiatric, surgical, and pharmaceutical interventions in sexuality.  She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Gender Studies at the University of Victoria.

Praise for the Book

“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