What do you think the outlook is for the so-called "female Viagra," the drugs that were undergoing the trials you wrote about?
I'm almost sure within the next three years, we will see a female desire drug on the market. And, yes, I think it will sell widely.
How, from a science perspective, did the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon seem to enhance the libido of so many women?
This has to do with the concept of neuroplasticity, basically the idea that the more you use certain pathways the stronger they will become. And a book like Fifty Shades of Grey taps into that, especially if it's read and re-read. It engenders more fantasy, more noticing of sexual impulses. It strengthens the [sexual] response. So even if the spark of the familiar husband is less than it once was, a woman might be more responsive to it, more likely to notice it. If women are thinking about sex more during the workday, they will bring that energy home.
You describe a conflict in the current research with some experts believing that there's a narcissism at the heart of female sexuality — the desire to be desired — while another camp thinks that women are more self-centered and aggressive than they realize. Isn't it possible to resolve that conflict by admitting that women are very different?
Yes, I should have prefaced the whole book by saying there is infinite variation in individual women. But I wanted to explore what might be generally true. Some research suggests that the desire to be desired, though it feels like a bedrock part of their sexuality to so many women, may actually be an example of the way it's constrained. Over time, I would love to see the research tease out the layers, remove the veil of social conditioning, the influence from the media’s constant sexualization of women, to find out the answers to the question the book poses.
Do you think men should read your book? What lessons can they take away from it to better understand the women in their lives?
I think reading the book can remove their blinders. And maybe they can stop fooling themselves about women’s desire.
By Joy Manning for Prevention