Women will be wanting orgasms next

I ONCE MET a woman who confided, over dinner, that she had not had an orgasm until she was nearly 40. There was nothing unusual about her story, just a note of regret in her voice that she had had to wait so long. She had never consulted a doctor about it, assuming that her GP would not regard it as a medical problem or that she had had bad luck with men, a circumstance which clearly fell outside his remit. Not any longer: on Friday, the demand for orgasms on the NHS reached a deafening crescendo, with doctors suddenly discovering that a full sex life is vital to health.

"Cruel and unethical" was the reaction of the British Medical Association to a decision by the Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, to allow GPs to prescribe the anti-impotence drug Viagra only to men suffering from specific medical conditions. The BMA is advising doctors to go on prescribing the drug on the NHS to all impotent men who seek their help, in defiance of the guidelines, during the six-week consultation period before the restrictions come into force. "When I hear people talk against prescribing Viagra, I think they are probably not having to sit in a surgery and explain to a patient who is in desperate need," said Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of the BMA.

Desperate need? I do not much like the idea of drug rationing. I am sorry for men who, for whatever reason, have erectile problems. But if anyone seriously doubts that we continue to live in a phallocentric culture, let me cite in evidence Friday's newspapers, where the Viagra-rationing story was on the front pages of the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the Daily Mail and the Express. In the Sun, an anonymous journalist - I do hope it was not my new friend, Mr Yelland - identified himself as a Viagra user and denounced the decision to limit prescriptions as "arrogant, cruel and unfair".

It is hard to imagine anyone making a comparable fuss if someone invented a female orgasm pill and the NHS declined to make it freely available to every adult woman in this country who would like to improve her sex life, (Multiple orgasms, doctor? Yes please.) When the idea of such a drug was mooted a couple of years ago, there was a brief flurry of interest in the media, followed by total silence. Friends of mine have been speculating, for some months, about whether Viagra works for women - there seems to be no logical reason why it should not stimulate the clitoris as well as the penis - but would any GP prescribe it to a female patient who wanted a livelier time in bed? I don't think we need waste much time on that little conundrum.

There is an obvious parallel here with recreational drugs such as cannabis. I am in favour of the legalisation of soft drugs but I have never heard anyone argue that they should be available on the NHS, except to sufferers from illnesses such as multiple sclerosis. This, as it happens, is one of the conditions for which Viagra will continue to be available on prescription, along with diabetes and spinal cord injuries. My only criticism of Mr Dobson is that he has not deregulated Viagra altogether, allowing it to be sold in handy little packs from dispensers in men's lavatories, like the ones which currently disgorge condoms. Or women's lavatories, come to that. Now that orgasms have been established as an inalienable human right, to be prescribed by rebel GPs at taxpayers' expense, we can hardly expect disappointed women just to lie back and think of England.

IN FAIRY TALES, children run away and hide in forests, where they narrowly escape being eaten by wolves and other malign fates. Along with the conviction that they are adopted - that their "real" parents live somewhere else - running away must be one of the most popular fantasies among pre-pubescent children, especially when something goes even slightly wrong at home or at school. Their capacity to distinguish between fantasy and reality is less fully developed than it is in adults, or so one tends to assume.

And then last week, as if intent on disproving this theory, the Spice Girls decided to intervene in the hunt for two missing schoolgirls, Lisa Hoodless and Charlene Lunnon. "Please call home," band members told the Daily Star, while the aptly-named Baby Spice, Emma Bunton, added: "We're all so worried about your safety." This gruesome publicity stunt assumed that the missing 10-year-olds, who turned up safely on Friday morning, were doing normal things such as buying tabloid newspapers and watching TV - perhaps from the hotel room they had booked into without arousing anyone's suspicions.

Of course the police had to appeal for help in finding the children, but the way the media handled the story, conducting emotional interviews with people quite peripheral to the incident and assuming the worst possible outcome when few of the facts were known, says more about current perceptions of danger than the world as it really is.

Suggested Topics
Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
Arts and Entertainment
books The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
News
Harry Styles is not quitting One Direction, his management says
booksManagement confirms that rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

    £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

    C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

    £60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?