Narrowly-defined masculinity is bad for your health

Oh, wow, I’m so shocked. The Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that the dietary supplement Man Up Now, which purportedly enhances male sexual performance, is dangerous, and warned consumers to avoid it. According to the FDA, Man Up Now,

…contains sulfoaildenafil, a chemical similar to sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. Like sildenafil, this chemical may interact with prescription drugs such as nitrates, including nitroglycerin, and cause dangerously low blood pressure. When blood pressure drops suddenly, the brain is deprived of an adequate blood supply that can lead to dizziness or lightheadedness.

The FDA recommended that “consumers who have Man Up Now capsules should stop using them immediately.” It also warned against the potentially dangerous misperception that because the drugs are marketed as “herbal” and “all natural,” it cannot cause consumers harm. On the contrary, it seems that a number of dietary supplements aimed at enhancing sexual performance can be harmful to your health.

Let this be a lesson: rigid, narrowly-defined masculinity and the way it’s used by advertisers to make men insecure about their penises is bad for men’s health. Also bad for their health: unoriginal, sexist product names. Seriously, “Man Up Now?” What, was “Your Penis is Tiny and Everyone Knows It, Dude” too big to fit on the bottle? It’s bad enough that they’re trying to get men to buy a dangerous product by implying that a man isn’t a man unless his penis is 14 inches long and rock hard all day long. It’s quite another to do it using the most hackneyed, over-used phrase of 2010 and without any subtlety whatsoever.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

Read more about Chloe

Join the Conversation

  • nazza

    Men get inundated constantly with the notion that we’re somehow falling down on the job of being, well, men. If I have any wish for the future, it’s that men recognize that there isn’t one set standard they must adhere to, and that masculinity has many forms.

  • black south

    I get the point of the article. Man Up Now is a ridiculous name. But this product seems to be nothing more than a generic Viagra, in which case, regardless of the name, it does have valid uses that have nothing to do with narrowly-defined masculinity. I doubt anyone taking it is hoping to walk around with a 24 hour hard-on though.

    And the FDA, from reading that article, didn’t so much as say it will kill you as say that it’s as dangerous as Viagra, but since you don’t need a prescription for it, you shouldn’t take it. Which not only sounds ludicrous, but gives me the impression that Pfizer wrote it.

    If the FDA has such a problem with these herbal supplements that use FDA approved chemicals or synthetics, then why approve the original in the first place?