Arts

'Orgasm Inc.' Debunks Female Sexual Dysfunction

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hollywood isn't showing much love to women in Cupid's month and the Oscars offer little room for glass-ceiling breakage. But Jennifer Merin praises three documentaries on aspects of female sexuality. And don't miss a film festival near you.



(WOMENSENEWS)--February is Cupid's time, but Hollywood isn't showing much love for women this month. It's slim pickings when it comes to feature films of particular interest to women.

Though Hollywood isn't delivering our heart's delights at the multiplex, February does bring us three engaging documentaries on different aspects of female sexuality.

"Orgasm, Inc.," Liz Canner's entertaining and infuriating exposé about the profit-driven pharmaceutical industry's medicalization and commercialization of female sexuality, opens Feb. 11 in limited release. It's a must-see. If it's not at a theater near you, look for it on DVD, soon to be available from First Run Features.

Bookmark and Share

Canner became aware of the issue when she was hired to create erotic tapes for use in the testing of a "female Viagra." Through that assignment she discovered that Vivus and other drug companies were pressuring authorities to define women's fluctuations in desire and responsiveness or degrees of pleasure as a new disease called Female Sexual Dysfunction, and seeking FDA approval for drugs to treat it.

With millions in profits at stake, pharmaceutical companies were (and are) racing to get the first orgasm cream FDA-approved and to market.

But the highly credible physicians, researchers, psychologists and sex toy purveyors--female sexuality experts, all--in this movie say there is no such thing as Female Sexual Dysfunction and treatments being promoted by drug makers are not only ineffective, but also can be harmful.

A second searing documentary about women's sexuality premieres on public television on Feb. 9. "Mrs. Goundo's Daughter," directed by Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater, is the heart wrenching story of a Malian woman who is fighting to protect her young daughter from undergoing female genital mutilation, which family members threaten to impose against her will.

'A Good Man'

The third documentary is "A Good Man," opening Feb. 25 in limited release. In it, Safina Uberoi follows the Rohrlachs--Chris and Rachel, their teenage son and infant daughter and their respective parents. The rural Australian family turns from farming to running a brothel in order to support Rachel who, many years before, suffered a stroke and became a quadriplegic. Infant daughter? Yes, the couple still has sex. "A Good Man" has no political agenda, no polemic. It's just a really good real story that lets you reflect deeply on relationships and women's sexuality.

February also sees the launch of the Athena Film Festival, presenting 20 femme-helmed or femme-centric films and several panel discussions at New York's Barnard College from Feb. 10-13.

If you want to attend a women's film festival, but can't be in New York City, dozens are scheduled across the nation, including some during February and many more throughout the year.

The February crop includes the 14th annual Everett (Washington) Women's Film Festival (Feb. 11-12) and the 15th annual Buffalo (New York) International Women's Film Festival (Feb. 11-March 23). If you can't find a women's film festival in your vicinity, consider starting one. It's all the mode. And it's about time, too.

Now on to this year's Oscars, which are to be presented Feb. 27 on ABC. There are no celluloid ceiling stats set for breakage this year. No woman is nominated for "Best Director," even though Lisa Cholodenko, Debra Granik, Sofia Coppola ("Somewhere") and Nicole Holofcener ("Please Give") all did worthy work this year.

Two 'Best Picture' Nominees

Still, Granik's "Winter's Bone" and Cholodenko's "The Kids Are All Right" are nominated for "Best Picture." That's 2 out of 10. Not equal. Not perfect. Progress, but not a Valentine.

As for February's new feature films . . .

The only femme-helmed feature, opening Feb. 11, is "I Am You," previously entitled "In Her Skin." Simone North's truth-based thriller about a missing Australian teenager who was found to have been murdered by her babysitter stars Guy Pearce, Sam Neill and Miranda Otto. Other than that, little information is available about this film and there's no trailer for it. So wait and see.

Of the month's few films about women, "The Roommate" (opening Feb. 4), is a college campus screamer in which one teen who's obsessed with her new best friend--her roommate--turns into a terrorizing monster. Thrilling? Not.

"Just Go For It," the obligatory Val Day romcom, opening Feb. 11, has Jennifer Aniston assisting best friend Adam Sandler to win the heart of a younger woman who suspects that he's secretly married when he's not. A few chuckles, but mainly lame.

Then, on Feb. 18, there's "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son," an urban comedy in which a cross-dressing FBI agent (Martin Lawrence) and his son go into hiding at a girls' art school. And, yes, the two guys are hefty. But the hilarity isn't.

In "Shelter," Julianne Moore plays a forensic psychiatrist trying to figure out why her patient's alternate personalities all belong to deceased persons. The film was released overseas last year. Perhaps it should have stayed there. But it's here on Feb. 25, well timed to capture pre-Oscars box office from fans loyal to Moore, overlooked by the Academy this year.

Subscribe

Would you like to Comment but not sure how? Visit our help page at http://www.womensenews.org/help-making-comments-womens-enews-stories.

Would you like to Send Along a Link of This Story?
http://www.womensenews.org/story/arts/110204/orgasm-inc-debunks-female-sexual-dysfunction

In addition to covering film for Women's eNews, Jennifer Merin writes about documentaries for About.com (http://documentaries.About.com) and is president of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists (www.AWFJ.org), a nonprofit organization of the leading women film journalists in the U.S. and Canada. She is also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

For more information:

Alliance of Women Film Journalists:
http://www.awfj.org

 
0 COMMENTS | Login or Sign Up to post comments

RELATED STORIES

Genital Mutilation

Ugandan Physician-Lawmaker Moves to Criminalize FGM

Mental Health

Psychiatric Labels Plague Women's Mental Health

Women's enews events

Visit Our YouTube Channel

Visit Our Bookshelf