E.D. drug advertisements epitome of reproductive hypocrisy


(Cue that familiar Enzyte commericial scenario.)

“This is Bob. It looks like Bob is here to spread around a little joy. But there seems to be a lot of rumors going around about this chubby Santa, because not long ago, Santa decided he needed a little more room in his sled, so he made a call to Enzyte about natural male enhancement. And after a few short weeks, what did he get?

“Why, not only a sleigh full of confidence and a sack full of pride — it looks like Bob got the one thing every lady likes — the joy of a gift that keeps on giving. Yes, with things heating up on the old North Pole, it looks like there’s no mistaking this Santa for an elf anymore.”

In other words, Bob is here to spread his semen around because he has been taking Enzyte for a few weeks and has a raging, hard erection and full testicles, which is great, because that is the never-ending Christmas present every woman wants. And because Bob is taking Enzyte, no one will assume he has a small penis any more.

If that doesn’t offend you, you have a tough stomach. Every time an Enzyte commercial comes on, I’m reminded of the sexual double standard in America. But it’s not the untruthful advertising that bothers me (Enzyte doesn’t work), it’s the audaciousness of the whole erectile-dysfunction movement that “Smilin’ Bob” epitomizes. The fact that hundreds of millions of dollars are spent to wag the personal problems of males in my face while women can’t even get affordable birth control illustrates an unhealthy attitude toward sexuality in America.

“Insurance [companies] will cover male enhancement supplements but don’t have to also cover birth control,” said Erin Doughty, junior in political science and president of Students for Choice. “Many insurance companies won’t cover birth control, because they say it’s not medically necessary, but women use it not only to prevent pregnancy but also painful conditions like endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. There aren’t contraception equity laws in Kansas that require insurance companies that cover the cost of male enhancement drugs to also cover the cost of birth control.”

For women who can get pregnant, Smilin’ Bob represents an erect penis in a condom full of health-insurance loopholes that avoid protecting female reproductive rights. He might not be barring women from legal reproductive equality, but he is a reminder that while abstinence is the answer for women who can’t afford children, there are a lot of willing and newly able men who don’t have to worry about the consequences of getting pregnant. And realistically, with more hard penises to say no to, how are women supposed to focus on the underlying issue?

I didn’t know erectile dysfunction was such a problem for American men, but I’m happy for those who seek help to correct their handicaps instead of living in shame like Smilin’ Bob did before he lied to the neighborhood about the effectiveness of vitamins on his blood flow. But until women have equal access to such lauded reproductive measures, I don’t want to see Bob smiling and whistling at me anymore.

K-State students can complain about the lack of contraception equity laws in Kansas by writing letters to drug companies that manufacture male enhancement drugs and to legislators, Doughty said.

“Tell the companies that their ads are ridiculous and pressure legislators that, while multimillion-dollar sales costs are being covered, birth control should be as well,” she said. And I agree.

Whitney Hodgin is a senior in print journalism. Please send comments to opinion@spub.ksu.edu.