Orgasm Inc. is a documentary by Liz Canner focusing on the recent “discovery” of FSD or Female Sexual Dysfunction. We know that pills such as Viagra can help men with erectile dysfunction. And we also know that the prescription drug industry is big, profitable business. Just how big you might wonder? According to the documentary “The pharmaceutical industry is the third most profitable in the world”. But it is also extremely profitable in America as “The USA makes up just 5% of the world’s population but it accounts for 42% of the world’s spending on prescription drugs”.
Canner explores how pharmaceutical companies scrambling to make a huge profit by telling women that they indeed are abnormal frame FSD as a disorder, even though there are no actual medical discoveries that point to FSD as a disorder. In fact, we find out that all initial meetings discussing FSD were sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and that pharmaceutical companies have made it their plight to help define and discover FSD.
As the notion of FSD took hold among the public and in popular culture, the widespread beliefs is that 43% of all women suffer from FSD. This number is based on a publication in the early 90s in which the authors surveyed women about their sexual experiences in the past 12 months. If the women answered yes, even once, to questions concerning lack of interest in sex, no orgasm during intercourse, feelings of anxiety during sexual activity (including other questions) they were placed in the category of FSD. It turns out that the authors had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.
As pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to launch pills, patches and creams designed to cure FSD we should ask the question: do they work? Well no. Placebo pills have more or less the same effect as testosterone pills (said to increase blood flow and female desire), but the pharmaceutical companies do not want you to know that. They claim success. “Clinical trials funded by pharmaceutical companies have 3-5 times the odds of reporting a favorable outcome than those funded by other sources”.
The hysteria concerning FSD and “normal” female sexuality has spread and newer, more extreme treatments are said to be able to help women overcome this disorder, such as laser vaginal rejuvenation, designer laser vaginoplasty and labia reduction (basically plastic surgery of the genitals).
If women are sometimes lacking sexual appetite or libido, then why is that? Well, experts in the field of human sexuality are more likely to focus on social context and other factors rather than hormones, such as stress, relationship problems, working too much, taking care of the household, having experienced sexual assault, having body image issues, being on anti-depressants or using contraceptive pills. Orgasm Inc. shows how there is nothing wrong with women’s sexuality. “Female Sexual Dysfunction is the hysteria of this century”, brought on by the greed and the pathologization of women’s bodies. As the documentary explains: “There is a lot of money to be made telling people that they are sick”.