For most American men, the loss of virginity through the act of penile-vaginal penetration is a significant step toward adult masculinity, manhood, and heterosexuality. And while many men will experience other aspects of sexual behavior that are pleasurable, none will reify their masculinity more than “straight” sex (or what Carole Vance calls “meat and potatoes” and Pat Califia calls “vanilla” sex). In the texts examined here, men who fail to accomplish this act—whatever the cause—have demonstrated significant doubts about their own subjective experiences of masculinity. That most heterosexual men appear to consider the erect penis as the only means toward sexual fulfillment indicates a narrowness of thought that doesn’t take into account what has been learned about the practices of alternative sexualities. I define heteronormativity as the cultural inclination to position heterosexuality as the default socio/sexual experience—perhaps the grandest of “grand narratives.” What I mean by this is that heterosexuality is viewed as the expected path of sexual development. A rhetoric of heteronormativity not only upholds this expectation, but grants the experience of heterosexuality unearned power and privilege through the repetitive endorsement of its social, political, and cultural values, both real and imagined. And it does all of this by pretending that other ways of being a socio/sexual human being don’t exist. Stevi Jackson writes:

An effective critique of heterosexuality—at the levels of social structure, meaning, social practice and subjectivity—must contain two elements. The first of these is a critique of heteronormativity, of the normative status of heterosexuality which renders any other sexualities as “other” and marginal. The second is a critique of what some have called “hetero-patriarchy” or “hetero-oppression” … in other words, heterosexuality as systematically male dominated.

Just as cheap viagra marketing is invested in heteronormativity, it sells heteronor-mative values to the drug’s customers. Heteronormative values include traditional performances of both masculinity and femininity. Pfizer’s target market is the heterosexual man with the “wife” as the default “partner” when the relational dynamics of ED are described. While she might be frustrated by her husband’s erectile difficulties, she is patient and “stands by her man.” Within relationships marked by traditional performances of masculine authority and feminine servility, it is the woman who feels the pressure to equalize the anxiety resulting from the compromised male ego and the unresponsive penis. As evidenced by the design of the Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM), “intimacy” means penile-vaginal intercourse and “sex” stands in for male orgasm. Testimonies of masculinity contained in the news stories suggest a puerile and stagnant relationship between men and sexuality—one that Viagra preserves with its emphasis on subtlety, organic causes, and universal remedies. Both Pfizer’s promotional materials and the news stories perpetuate traditional male sex roles by reproducing stereotypes of masculine behavior, beliefs, and values. Without these values the need for Viagra disappears, and the dominant socio/sexual order is threatened.