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In Pursuit of the Perfect Penis:The Medicalization of Male Sexuality

In Pursuit of the Perfect Penis:The Medicalization of Male Sexuality

Abstract

In Pursuit of the Perfect PenisThe Medicalization of Male Sexuality SAGE Publications, Inc.1986DOI: 10.1177/000276428602900505 Leonore Tiefer Beth Israel Medical Center, New York Sexual virility-the ability to fulfill the conjugal duty, the ability to procreate, sexual power, potency-is everywhere a requirement of the male role, and, thus, "impotence" is everywhere a matter of concern. Although the term has been used for centuries to refer specifically to partial or complete loss of erectile ability, the first definition dictionaries give for impotence never mentions sex but refers to a general loss of vigor, strength, or power. Sex therapists, concerned about these demeaning connotations, have written about the stigmatizing impact of the label "impotent": The word impotent is used to describe the man who does not get an erection, not just his penis. If a man is told by his doctor that he is impotent, the man turns to his partner and says he is impotent, they are saying a lot more than that the penis cannot become erect. (Kelley, 1981, p. 126) Yet a recent survey of the psychological literature found that the frequency of articles with the term "impotence" in the title has risen dramatically since 1970, in contrast with
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