Zestra: How the separate sexual standard for women is creeping into commercials

1:59 PM, Feb 23, 2011   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, FL - When Sally famously faked an orgasm in front of Harry in the blockcuster hit When Harry Met Sally, she showed how elusive sexual satisfaction is for women.

There is no switch to flip or pill to pop for women. But there is a product that promotes pleasure just for the ladies.

In a video advertisement for the female enhancement oil Zestra, the narrator says, "Topically applied, Zestra works within minutes, heightening your sensitivity to touch for deep pleasurable sensations and sexual satisfaction."

Zestra is not a new product. In fact, it has been around for nearly three years.  You're probably wondering why you haven't seen a commercial for it on television? The reason is because Zestra has not been able to buy advertising time.

The company has the money but says none of the major networks, like NBC, CBS and ABC, have been willing to run the ad.

Yet, plenty of products are paraded all over the air for men.

To find out why this female arousal oil cannot live among the male enhancment pills, we caught up with the creator Rachel Braun-Sherl to get her take.  "We think there's clearly a double standard in terms of comfort with male and female sexuality," she said.

To get an objective point of view from someone who had not even heard of the product, we sat down with our own station manager. Ken Tonning has decades of experience in advertising sales and said, "We [advertisers] don't want to put ourselves in the position of the regulators, but we do want to do what's appropriate."

What is appropriate is up to each individual station.

While Zestra has not presented its ad to 10 News, Tonning said, "I quite honestly don't see a difference between the Viagra and Zestra products."

Sex therapist Dr. Barbara Cook said, "There does seem to be the double standard as far as not as many female products advertised."

She says more than 40 percent of women are sexually disatisfied.

Still, for some reason, she says, society feels threatened by the sheer idea of a product like Zestra.

"If women enjoy sex, what is this going to do to the family?  Is she going to stray?" said Cook.

Armed with the ad we hit the streets to find out what you think.  Phyllis Beckett of St. Pete said, "It is no more suggestive than Viagra or any other male enhancement product."

John Cofer said he would rather not see these kinds of ads at all but agrees there is a double standard.  "It is a male-dominated world and men who are in corporate offices don't want to see that," said Cofer.

Dona McBride of Pinellas County said, "Every woman has desires and she wants to have these things and wants to know about them."

That is exactly why the makers of Zestra want their message seen and heard by the slew of women searching for the secret to sexual success.

CBS executives say the reason it rejected Zestra's TV spot is because "it raised serious taste concerns" and the network was concerned "the audience would be very offended by the product."

Meanwhile, Zestra has started a petition for Equal Arousal Rights.

Join a discussion with women who tried Zestra and like it on MomsLikeMe.com.

Erica Pitzi, 10 News Reporter

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