Mathilda Gregory reviews a documentary which examines efforts to solve women’s sexual disfunction with a pill
When the manufacturers of a drug to treat male impotence were eclipsed by the success of a certain rival product that names with Niagara, they turned their attention to women. Filmmaker Liz Canner (right) was asked to help them create the sensitive-yet-stimulating movies they would need for their research and found herself following the company’s strange alchemy for nine years.
The film she has produced, Orgasm Inc: The Strange Science of Female Pleasure, which is screening on Sunday as part of the Birds Eye View film festival in London, is amazing and fascinating, and its subjects are often wallbangingly frustrating.
The quest for the ‘pink V****a’ shows little regard for the fact that women don’t really have the same a capacity for mechanical sexual malfunction as men; scientists complain about how women’s arousal and satisfaction are harder to measure without the same graphs and endpoints, not, it seems, realising that this is because women are not essentially inverted men.
The aims of the pill are stubbornly vague. Is this a drug that will give women more pleasurable orgasms? More orgasms? Orgasms from penetrative sex? Longer lasting erections? No one seems to know. There is very little sense that there is even any demand for this product outside of what a marketing campaign has dreamed up, but somehow female sexual response will be sorted into normal and abnormal and the abnormal will be fixed. Yuk.