Salon Probes the Post's Impotence Myth
Salon writer Rebecca Traister doesn’t buy the Washington Post’s big story about the causes behind an alleged rise in impotence among college students.
May 11, 2006 | There was a story in the Washington Post on Sunday about a problem apparently facing a lot of men on college campuses: They’re having a hard time getting hard. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard reports of this in recent years, mostly from young women who assume, as I have assumed, that it’s one of the costs of living in a world with antidepressants. Those sexual side effects are no joke. Then, of course, there is the rise in campus binge drinking, which has, since time began, sometimes resulted in a condition popularly known as “beer dick.”
It’s a really valid and compelling issue. The fact that young guys are having a rough time with erectile dysfunction is well worth investigating and I was happy to see a long reported piece about it in the Post. But imagine my surprise at learning that antidepressants, alcohol and stress aren’t the real story here. (They get mentioned several paragraphs into the piece, along with explanations like anxiety, recreational drug use and overconsumption of Red Bull, so as not to rob the piece of its backlash-y punch.) No, according to the Washington Post, the factor that’s making boys go limp is … (drum roll) … women who want to have sex with them! That’s right, folks. Apparently nothing can make a dude lose a stiffie like the feeling that a girl is horny. You following? No, me neither. But here’s how the story, by Laura Sessions Stepp, lays it out.