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Orgasm, Inc.: Sexy title, political film
by Tracy Baim
2010-02-10

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Medical and pharmaceutical interference in what are often problems fixable through more basic solutions is the focus of this excellent new documentary from filmmaker Liz Canner. Orgasm, Inc., is showing at the Dyke Delicious series at Chicago Filmmakers appropriately on Valentine's Weekend, Sat., Feb. 13, 7 p.m. social, 8 p.m. screening, $10, 5243 N. Clark St., 773-293-1447.

Canner's access to people working on drugs and surgical solutions to the newly created disease "Female Sexual Dysfunction" or FSD shows just how compromised our Western medicine really is. FSD in fact was a disease diagnosis pushed in part by pharmaceutical companies developing the female equivalent to Viagra for men. The concern is, the orgasm-related problems many women face are far more complex than men experience, and in fact many women interviewed had orgasms, they just thought they were not "normal" because they did not have an orgasm during intercourse.

This is not a lesbian film, and in fact that's the only disappointing aspect because Canner did not address lesbian sexuality at all — except in a short, funny clip about a woman who is now happier with her sex life now that she's with a woman. But the film is still a wonderful behind-the-scenes investigation.

Canner's access started several years ago when she was hired to edit erotic videos for an unusual pharmaceutical company using the films to gauge sexual response in women. Because she worked with the company, she was able to get ground-floor interviews as the company, parallel to others, worked on a "female Viagra." The company spokespeople were surprisingly candid with Canner, perhaps both optimistic and naïve to her intentions. They later refused to return her calls.

Canner's research is very compelling. She looks at other companies and their drug trials, surgical procedures ( including plastic surgery to make women "pretty" down there ) , and pushes to find medical/pharma solutions to problems that might be solved otherwise. Especially interesting was a woman sales rep for a vaginal cosmetic surgery company — she was conflicted about the message it sent to women.

The film is also funny, including an animated "race" depicting the battle to win the FSD drug war.

There are heroes and no-nonsense activists, but Canner is also not just demonizing all the medical/pharma folks. Some seem to actually believe what they are selling, and in fact some problems may have a medical basis. But Canner shows that it is dangerous, no matter what the problem, to have the phama industry involved in actually "creating" a disease where one did not exist before.

I watched this film with a group of women, including someone in the pharmaceutical industry, and she was impressed with the approach, as were the others. We laughed and were shocked, and especially felt very well informed after the 73-minute film was over.

If Orgasm, Inc. wasn't so sadly a true documentary, it could have passed for a very funny mokumentary.

See www.orgasminc.org .


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