Selling Desire Image Credit: Time
Selling Desire Image Credit: Time

Selling Desire

Cindy Eckert Is Betting That A Pill Can Boost A Woman’s Sex Drive. Scientists Aren’t So Sure.

Belinda Luscombe

THERE ARE TWO SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT about pink. One is that it is the color of bubble gum and Barbie. Cindy Eckert’s view is that it is the color of business. It is a dominant presence at the offices of her Raleigh, N.C., venture-capital firm, the Pink Ceiling, a fund that advertises its main goal as “to make women really f-cking rich.” It’s an even more dominant presence on Eckert, who defies people to observe the taboo on assessing anyone— especially a woman—by their clothes. She wears some hue of pink every working day, accessorized with hot pink nails, lipstick and shoes. Even her hair seems to have a fuchsia sheen. In the pharmaceutical circles in which Eckert operates, among the white coats and the navy suits, that shade of pink invites judgment. And underestimation. She is fine with that.

Through the firm’s “Pinkubator,” Eckert, 45, is helping bring to market such innovations as a flushable pregnancy test, a decal that can detect a rape drug from a drop of a drink, shelf-stable human milk products for babies and a device that helps train pelvic-floor muscles.

These are not just products for women; they’re products that give women more autonomy and, in particular, more agency over their bodies and sexual choices. And their development is being funded by Eckert’s controversial attempt to answer one of the biggest mysteries of the human body: What is the source of female desire?

In August

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