Viagra Selfhood: Pharmaceutical Advertising and the Visual Formation of Swedish Masculinity

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Abstract

Using material from the Pfizer sponsored website providing health information on erectile dysfunction to potential Swedish Viagra customers (www.potenslinjen.se), this article explores the public image of masculinity in relation to sexual health and the cultural techniques for creating pharmaceutical appeal. We zoom in on the targeted ideal users of Viagra, and the nationalized, racialized and sexualized identities they are assigned. As part of Pfizer's marketing strategy of adjustments to fit the local consumer base, the ways in which Viagra is promoted for the Swedish setting is telling of what concepts of masculinity are so stable and unassailable that they can withstand the association with a drug that is, in essence, an acknowledgement of ‘failed’ masculinity and ‘dysfunctional’ sexuality. With comparative national examples, this study presents an interdisciplinary take on the ‘glocalized’ cultural imaginary of Viagra, and the masculine subject positions it engenders.

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