Orgasm Inc. (2009)
★★★ / ★★★★
Elizabeth Canner was hired by a pharmaceutical company to edit pornographic films and put them together in such a way that would make the company look good. Upon taking the assignment, she was inspired to research and document the so-called “female sexual dysfunction” in terms of what it really is, or what the professionals and the public think it is, and the various drug companies’ many attempts to cure the newfangled “disease.”
“Orgasm Inc.” is a well-researched film that took over seven years to finish. It started with a company which, at the time, aimed to produce a drug that would increase blood flow to the clitoris. There are fancy, science-y talk of cyclic AMP, intracellular calcium, and blood flow. The gist: it was believed that an increase of blood flow to the clitoris would increase a woman’s chance of reaching an orgasm. But just when we started to think that the company really cared about women’s sexual interests, the rug was pulled from under our feet. The film brings up questions about the medicalization of sex and how we, as a society, are built to expect that a pill can fix our problems.
I liked the fact that it brought up age as a factor of “female sexual dysfunction,” that it is normal for an older person to not feel as up for sex or find it more difficult to reach an orgasm compared to younger people. It sounds very obvious but it is important that it be acknowledged because not everyone has taken a Physiology or Human Sexuality course. Television can only tell a person so much and the information is often a skewed view of what is. By introducing the obvious, it allows us to consider the psychological, emotional, and sociological factors of sex.
People with fancy degrees were interviewed from all over the United States, some from the United Kingdom. Many worked–and some are currently working–as researchers and doctors from behind the scenes while a select few are recognized by the public. They were asked what they thought about the easy-fix drugs. Some supported the movement and essentially argued, “If it works, why not?” even if research has shown that a drug did not do better than placebos or sugar pills. Others focused more on the consequences, short-term and long-term, of the drugs, offering alternative non-drug options like using a more effective vibrator and simply being educated by being more familiar with one’s body and where certain things are located.
And then there was the scary non-drug options like “laser vaginal rejuvenation” and “designer laser vaginoplasty,” where supporters claim that cutting or burning off a certain part of a female will increase sexual stimulation. In my opinion, such practices, conveniently wrapped in soothing words like “rejuvenation,” are equal to female genital mutilation. Those who promote such inhumane practices ought to be ashamed and they obviously don’t understand or care about its history and the women who had gone through such horrific practices.
“Orgasm Inc.” is entertaining and educational. The animation is utilized a bit too much, which sometimes comes off jokey rather than a serious statement, but at times it works as a satire of ridiculous TV commercials of drugs offering to cure all sorts of sexual dysfunctions. At the end of the day, you can choose to believe that “female sexual dysfunction” is a disease. Or you may choose not believe it. But one thing is certain: You are in charge of your own orgasm.