Why is Female Sexual Aid Zestra Getting Silent Treatment From Networks?

Why is Female Sexual Aid Zestra Getting Silent Treatment From Networks?

According to this commercial, “women are starting to talk about something they’ve been feeling for a long time.” Or, more accurately, they’re talking about something they haven’t been feeling for a long time– sexual satisfaction. Yikes!

Colloquially speaking, Zestra is product designed to help women get get turned on easier. It’s a topical blend of botanical oils, and it’s hormone free and non-prescription. The ad is a little bit hilarious (it’s always awkward when commercials try to evoke sexual excitement) but it seems like a legit product, and it’s certainly a good cause. The problem? TV networks are being all squeamish and won’t let it air.

The ad uses direct sexual language like “arousal” and “sex life,” but besides that, it’s remarkably tame. The clearest comparison to make is to the ads for Viagra and Cialis– the later of which all but says “sometimes you like it fast, sometimes you like it sloowww” (paraphrased due to lack of non-parody videos of the ad on the internet). But as Tracy Clark-Flory points out, those pills are for a recognized medical condition, and there is (technically) no medically equivalent condition for females. Technically, then, it’s not a double standard.

But why, exactly, is Zestra getting rejected by every network but Discovery Health and Soapnet Women’s Entertainment? Of all the channels on television, two are the only ones comfortable acknowledging the existance of female sexual desire. The other networks that considered it said they’d only air it in the middle of the night– the same time slots those weird Extenze commercials play, and it hardly seems fair to put a female arousal aid in the same category as a penis enlarger.

Looking at the evidence, one could infer that male sexual satisfaction is so important that we must see ads for it during daytime football games and family prime time TV shows, but female sexual satisfaction is so dirty it can only come out during the phone-sex and psychic-hotline time slot. Clark-Flory argues that it’s less about sexism but more about a general discomfort talking about sex when it’s not medicalized. I think she’s right, but again, those KY commercials are explicitly about gettin’ all lubed up and having explosive orgasms. Interestingly though, those commercials specifically capitalize on people’s discomfort talking about private parts. They don’t use words like “sexual satisfaction”– instead, they use stock footage of rockets going off.

So while it makes sense to prioritize Viagra and Cialis ads, since they’re FDA approved, it seems like a cop out to banish Zestra for using words like “arousal” while still allowing lube and condoms prime time spots. It speaks to a profound discomfort with female sexual desire– specifically in older women, since that’s who the ad targets.

Speaking of discomfort, here’s a video of the ladies of the View talking about Zestra. Listen for the way Barbara Walters says “Viaaaaahhhgra.” That said, she’s the only one of the ladies who gets the point– the rest of them just vaguely extrapolate on oil and the appropriate places to put it. I’ll admit, I’m generally skeptical when it comes to putting chemicals or substances on highly sensitive, highly important parts of the body– but women will continue to be in the dark about the merits of this product, as long as networks refuse to talk openly about female sexuality.


Molly Knefel is a stand-up comic and writer living in Brooklyn. She writes and stars in a web series with her brother called John and Molly Get Along, which has been featured in Punchline Magazine an ...read more


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