The latest, greatest anti-depressant?

By Ruth Davenport

Take your pick, ladies: Prozac or Viagra?

The Ottawa Citizen recently published the findings of a study by a team of psychologists at the State University of New York. The study triumphantly declared women directly exposed to semen are significantly less depressed than those who are not.

As a woman fighting for the right to enjoy sex and sensuality without being subjected to labels, denigration or any other form of repercussion, I’m outraged. Reading between the lines, "Women who are directly exposed to semen are significantly less depressed than those who are not" translates to "We have scientific evidence that you NEED men and you need SEX with men to be mentally stable!"

The article reports that semen contains the mood-altering hormones estrogen and testosterone (no shit) that, when absorbed through the vagina (we’ll assume they mean during intercourse) make women happy. Researchers questioned 293 college females about their sexual behaviour, assessed their happiness and determined the women who never used condoms scored the best marks on the "Happy Scale." The mystified researchers considered a "number" of alternatives and found none that explained their conclusions. So, in the spirit of true scientific inquiry, these bright minds settled on the most questionable conclusion of all: a man’s love juice is the modern woman’s anti-depressant.

The choice, ladies: over-the-counter Prozac or Viagra? An inevitable slide towards mental instability or lots and lots of unprotected sex? Feeling manipulated yet?

You should be.

First off, semen never made anyone happy on a purely base level. I for one don’t remember the last time a mouthful of Tijuana Toothpaste made anyone–male or female–crack a wide toothy grin. Second, how the hell did any group of researchers get funding for this crackpot investigation and why are the findings considered newsworthy? This study overlooks a few things, like: the hormones in question are produced by women before, during and after sex and are not provided exclusively by male ejaculation; men produce semen and should be similarly affected by exposure to it; how semen interacts with the brain centres that regulate mood to precipitate the described ebullience; and how other factors in a college woman’s life could interact and combine with sexual behaviours to influence her mental state.

There is no context in which this research is relevant other than the continued control of women and their increasingly liberated sexual behaviour. Ask a woman who uses a vibrator (a group conveniently not included in the research at hand) if the lack of semen affects what has been described as a "fifth-dimensional orgasm" and she’ll tell you it doesn’t… once she stops panting.

I don’t know what it’s going to take to beat it through the patriarchy that although men and women interact well together and enjoy each other’s company, one is not superior to or dominant over the other. This business of "proving" that women need men and their semen to be mentally stable strikes me as nothing more than a thinly veiled and pathetic collusion between the patriarchal establishments of research and media to convince women that without men we’re in serious trouble so we should shut up, spread our legs and appreciate the service being done for us.

Au contraire. Women don’t need men to be satisfied in their careers, their lives and certainly not their scronking. We are entitled to undertake and what’s more, enjoy all these things–including sex–any way we bloody well choose, with or without the white stuff. Trying to link our well-being to the bodily excretions of men is insulting, and it’s pathetic. Faced with the choice between depression and subservience in the form of love snot, I’ll take my chances with a king sized vibrator and depression. After all, a million healthy, happy, non-depressed lesbians can’t be wrong.

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