Considering how prevalent mental illness is, why do so few bloggers talk about it?

The aim of this blog is to write about my experience with mental illness, developments in my life as well as issues in the field of mental health all the while keeping a feminist framework.

I hope you can take something from this blog, whatever that may be.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mental Illness and Gender: Some Musings about S.E.X

I am constantly thinking about sex. (Shocking I know as I am a woman! (sarcasm) But nonetheless true) Unfortunately, my musing are often about how little I am having . Psychiatric drugs are the ultimate sex drive killer. They do not, however, kill my desire to want to have sex - I miss my sex drive!

Something I find interesting, however, is the way this side effect intersects with gender. Stereotypes dictate that men have an unlimited and always existing desire to have sex; women on the other hand, are believed to generally not want to sex. There is also an understanding that in hetero relationships it is women's 'duty' to fullfill their man's sexual 'needs' putting thier lack of drive aside. There for, withholding sex was an intentional act used as means to control men and/or gain influence in the home - which may very well be/have been to women's advantage especially if this was/is the only means by which they could acquire this power - but this belief remains a stereotype.

Things in the social world are always much more complicated (much, much more) than stereotypes allow. First of all, some women may have a higher 'drive' for sex than some men; some men may use sex to gain influence, some women may not; some individuals may not have sex at all; some women may be in relationships with other women, some men with men, or some people may have relationships and sex with a group or groups of people. What do we even define as 'sex'? I think of it as the umbrella term for all intimate acts of a sexual nature (assuming that 'sexual nature' are based upon physiological responses). These acts vary from penetrative sex to sensual massage.

But I digress.

Women (and men) on psychiatric drugs and other medications which lower sex drive exist in a world with these assumptions on how they should act in regard to sex. I find that when I have little to no sex drive guilt creeps up and makes me feel as if I am 'failing' because I am not fulfilling my partner's sexual needs. Plus, I fear that I will be precieved as using sex as a means to acquire power in my relationship.

Rationally I know that these things are NOT true, yet these ingrained stereotypes eat away at me resulting in an even lower desire for sex; plus I can imagine how hard it must be for men dealing with the stereotype that they always want sex when they do not.

Along with dealing with internalised stigma regarding mental illness in general, assumptions about the relationship between gender and sex make those taking sex drive killing drugs a little bit harder.

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