Cacchioni, Thea

Assistant Professor


Phone number: (250) 721-6261
Department: Women\'s Studies

Research description:

- Medicalization and healthicization of sex
- Sexual 'function' and 'dysfunction' in women
- Sexual pain
- Heteronormativity

Expertise Profile
Thea Cacchioni is highly recognized for preventing the approval of a failed anti-depressant drug Flibanserin, dubbed pink Viagra, in 2010, after it caused severe 'unsexy' side effects in pre-menopausal women.

Dr. Cacchioni is a sociologist and Women's Studies professor. Her work has mapped the trials and tribulations of the drug company race to find a sexual pharmaceutical for women. She is interested in this case study as an example of the lengths that drug companies will go to in the name of profit, as well as what the language around these drugs tells us about social constructions of gender and sexuality.

According to Dr. Cacchioni, sexuality is far more complex than is imagined by the sexual pharmaceutical industry. Solving sexual problems is going to take more than a blue pill for him and a pink pill for her. She adds that sexual problems are rarely physiological, internal conditions, but rather interpersonal, social and cultural. A magic bullet pill cannot address these other issues.

Dr. Cacchioni also argues that sexual expectations and norms shift from era to era and culture to culture. She says people should be aware that pharmaceutical companies are increasingly oversimplifying the way we see human sexuality.

In classes at UVic, Dr. Cacchioni examine how science, medicine, and the pharmaceutical industry shape understandings of sex, gender, and sexuality more broadly. Examples include nineteenth century constructions of homosexuality, the systematic surgical alternation of intersex infants in North America, medical gatekeeping around transgender surgeries, debates surrounding the HPV vaccine, and the construction of race in health promotion.

Related Links
Dr. Cacchioni's departmental website:

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