Leading article: Viagra, potent symbol of our self-doubts

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The Independent Online
WHAT A DIFFERENCE a drug makes, especially when it is called Viagra. Only a few weeks ago, most people were living under the impression that male impotence was a major problem for a small minority of men, and that our sex lives were, in the main, pretty good. Indeed, the all-conquering New Lad culture is not just about sex but about loadasex and, come to brag about it, loadsagreatsex. But the prescription pad does not lie (although clearly others have been.) In America, Viagra is the fastest selling new drug in history. Valium was the Seventies, Prozac the Eighties and now Viagra, it appears, is the Nineties.

But what does this say about us and the times in which we live? All those sensual Hollywood films and sex-charged advertisements that bombard us from every television screen and billboard imply that our lives revolve around sex, and very fine sex at that. But perhaps this is not the case. Is it that we have suddenly realised that we are not driving Ferraris but mere Escorts? Or even Trabants? Who knows? All we do know is that while it is still early days in Britain (Viagra has not been licensed here yet) this is clearly more than just a drug. Just as Prozac made us start to examine why, in our affluent times, so many people seemed to be dissatisfied with their lives, so Viagra is making us question our satisfaction with out sex lives and the very fundamentals of the relationships between men and women. Things may never be the same again.

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