Thursday, 28 June 2012

Keeks: How to tackle sexual dysfunction

Hi Vaginistas,

After watching Cherry Healey: How to get a life last night eating a peach on the sofa (I am having a health kick, which basically means still sitting around, but eating fruit instead of crisps) I have decided to briefly turn my hand to writing TV reviews. I know, jack of all, master of none as they say. It's relevant to the blog, I promise.

                                   Do you get it? Do you get it? AHAHAHAHA!

Cherry Healey, journalist, has set out on a journey to find out what life is like for those of us who are not smug, married new Mums in the "Modern World". Or something. In this recent episode she decided to investigate addictions and why people are drawn to taking pills. 

She talks to some guys who like sucking laughing gas out of balloons first, which seems nowhere near as fun as doing it with helium quite frankly, and the buzz goes after literally 5 seconds, so not sure what that is all about, but anyway. They all seem happy, and enjoyed it, except for one chap who has anxiety attacks and quite rightly doesn't want to do anything that might trigger one. Fine.

On to the 2 people in this programme that I am most particularly interested in. One, Suzy, is an ex-professional dancer who has become addicted to diet pills since taking a new career path and losing her dancers body. Cherry pulls a wry face at the camera as she wrangles with some pesky jeans and tells us about her ongoing battle with her weight, citing a truly horrible episode at university where she took laxitaves to keep thin. I wait for her to smirk and mention the baby weight, but she doesn't, which is a relief to us all. Anyway, she has happily left those days behind her now, but says that she understands where Suzy's desire to find a "miracle cure" comes from. I'm hoping to hear something about underlying pyschological or emotional causes at this point, but perhaps that'll come later.....

Suzy shows Cherry (who are both about a size 10, I would say, 12 at a push) around her flat, including a kitchen cupboard with a worrying lack of any food and is rather chock full of dieting pills, and her bedroom mirror which is surrounded not only with pictures of her as a genuine bonafide CHILD (a body which she really and actually never will be able to get back) and of celebrities whose jobs are to be slim and beautiful. Cherry rightly points out the body types on show here are so varied it seems her ideal body is actually impossible for her to achieve. She then asks her to talk her through some of the pills and what they do. Suzy mentions some diet which involves drinking pepper and water or something?! Which sounds truly horrendous, to which Cherry only responds that she tried a liquid only diet once too. 

At this point, a pyschologist and a doctor come on screen to talk about the pyschological basis to Suzy's dependancy on these pills, and about the long term effects of bad nutrition, of starving the body and so on, about how she has a lovely, perfectly healthy body and instead of taking pills she should eat healthily and do exercise......Oh hang on, sorry no that didn't happen, MY MISTAKE! Sorry about that. Instead, they go and try on some Bikinis, truly demonstrating how tiny they both are and how unneccessary and quite probably damaging to the health taking these pills may well be. Suzy is so upset that she crys. CUE PSYCHOLOGIST....

Nope, nope, sorry! What actually happens is that Cherry decides to take Suzy to a dance class, not to remind her how much she loves to dance and how good exercise makes you feel but as an alternative "solution". Suzy emerges looking glowing and happy and remembering why she loved dancing so much, but at the end when they catch up with her, she admits she's been unable to quite bring herself to throw away the pills in case there is a day when she is feeling down or indeed "ill." Ill?! Er.....I'm not sosure that's the day to be drinking slim fast personally, which Cherry tells her. No, no, sorry! Haha, sorry, Cherry actually tells her that she was so impressed by Suzy's perfectly health and well balanced approach to managing her weight that she went out and bought some of the pills.

On to the 2nd interesting case of the programme, and to my mind not an addict of any kind at all. Without re-watching the programme I can't seem to find out his name, (which is not going to happen because I have far better things to do with my time like sticking carpet tacks into the soles of my feet), but he was a lovely young welsh chap (I can't remember his age, but I'm going to take a stab at early 20s) with erectile dysfunction problems. As a result he was "addicted" to Viagra. Cherry talks to him about various other options, including a penile implant. She shows him a video of the procedure itself, where they both scream and look away from the screen, and Cherry gurns at him in horror, as the surgery goes on. They dismiss this as an extreme option.

Then, they take a visit to a specialist in erectile dysfunction, who goes through various options with him and then refers the chap to a qualified sexual therapist who will take him through a course to understand and work out the underlying pyschological reasons behind his problem.

Ah, no, sorry.....sorry, me again, sorry! Got muddled up! What they actually do is a quick google search and find a hypnotherapist. He has a session with the hypnotherapist, and is full of hope and feels as if a burden has been lifted off him, at which point the highly insightful Cherry says:

"Seeing how you're reacting now I'm starting to think that this is probably an emotional problem" (or words to that effect, I already told you I'm not re-watching). 

The chap is successfully treated after 2 hypnotherapy sessions, which is really and properly fantastic, and has gone on to enjoy a healthy sexual relationship with his boyfriend. Later in the programme we hear that they couple are engaged and in my favourite and sweetest bit of dialogue of the whole programme shyly admit that once they're married "we'll move in together" (my heart melted at that).

Now, I know this is BBC3 and a lighthearted look at lifestyle choices, but by the end I was really fuming. Not only about the way that sexual dysfunction was included in a programme about "Addictions" but also about the way that Suzy's problem was treated in such an off-hand manner. I am not a doctor, but I would personally have brought in a nutritionist and a GP to talk through her body issues. Perhaps they did this, perhaps they did all of these things, but where was the mention of it in the programme? What made me most angry is that the negative and seemingly destructive way she related to her own body wasn't in question at all - it's a given that young, slim women feel shit about themselves, that is just the nature of our society. Young women watching that (and let's not forget that BBC3's target audience are the younger demographic) wouldn't come away with an affirmation that we should love and respect our bodies, that we should do exercise and eat well to be healthy and feel good, but that we should be beating our bodies into submission, whether that is through using dieting pills or through exercise.

I am still waiting for a decent programme about sexual dysfunction. Cherry at one point admitted that she hadn't realised problems such as erectile dysfunction were actually such big issues. The only good thing about this particular segment was that the man they interviewed was young and healthy, which at least showed that erectile dysfunction can actually effect anyone, and can have a pyschological basis.

Anyway, this was all redeemed because right at the end, there was a bit where they said "If any of the problems in this programme have affected you please...."

Oh, who am I kidding. 

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