Summary: In her article, "In Pursuit of the Perfect Penis," Leonore Tiefer endeavors to "show how the persistence and increased use of the stigmatizing and stress-inducing label of impotence reflects a significant moment in the social construction of male sexuality." Liz Canner seems to be attempting something similar in her documentary, Orgasm Inc (watch the trailer here), which tracks not only the development of a drug that promises sexual satisfaction for women but also the social construction of a new illness called female sexual dysfunction. In this clip Canner recounts what she learned while making the documentary, including the role Pfizer and other drug companies played in funding conferences where a small group of hand-picked doctors met and formally described the symptoms of female sexual dysfunction. Their work in defining the disease, Canner argues, was largely driven by the ambitions of drug companies to create a demand for a new drug. I find this clip works nicely in class discussions wrestling with the social construction of illness and the concept of medicalization, which can be defined as a process where phenomena related to the human body come to be defined as medical conditions. As such they fall under the responsibility and authority of medical doctors and other health professionals to study, diagnose, prevent, and treat.
Thanks to Sociological Images for suggesting Leonore Tiefer's article.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist