Orgasm Inc

Indiana University Cinema Bloomington, IN


Elizabeth Canner


moderated by

Dr. Brenda Weber

Professor of Gender Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University

Orgasm Inc.— There's a Pill for That: The Medicalization of Sex

A discussion of issues around sexual health and the medicalization of sex.

Indiana University Cinema Bloomington, IN

Film Synopsis

Extraordinary behind-the-scenes access reveals a drug company's fevered race to develop the first FDA-approved Viagra for women

Filmmaker Liz Canner takes a job editing erotic videos for a drug trial for a pharmaceutical company. Her employer is developing what they hope will be the first Viagra drug for women that wins FDA approval to treat a new disease: Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD). Liz gains permission to film the company for her own documentary. Initially, she plans to create a movie about science and pleasure, but she soon begins to suspect that her employer, along with a cadre of other medical companies, might be trying to take advantage of women (and potentially endanger their health) in pursuit of billion dollar profits.

About the Speaker

Elizabeth Canner is a filmmaker who makes documentaries, digital public art installations, and new media projects on human rights issues. She often employs cutting-edge technologies to explore social issues from a new perspective. A prime example of this is her critically acclaimed public cyber art documentary Symphony of a City. Her documentary Deadly Embrace: Nicaragua, The World Bank and the IMF was one of the first films to look critically at the effects of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank policy, and globalization. In 2009, Canner directed Orgasm Inc.: The Strange Science of Female Pleasure, a feature-length investigative documentary on the pharmaceutical industry and women's health.

Canner is the founder and director of Astrea Media, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating media projects on human rights issues.

Canner graduated with honors in anthropology and visual arts from Brown University. She has been the recipient of over 50 awards, honors, and grants for her work, including a Rockefeller Foundation Next Generation Leadership Fellowship for "creating innovative media projects that strengthen democracy," a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, a Radcliffe Institute (Bunting) Film/Video Fellowship from Harvard University, and the Visionary Award from Dartmouth College.

Dr. Brenda Weber 
is a professor of gender studies and department chair at Indiana University. She is also an adjunct professor of American studies and an affiliate faculty member at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. Her work engages with a wide archive of mostly discredited cultural texts, including non-canonical nineteenth-century transatlantic women's literature and contemporary media, specifically literature, film, and television. As it relates to these texts she has particular interest in how the identity is discursively gendered, constructed, and embodied through written and mediated means, as well as how gender, sex, sexuality, race, and class work together to inform notions of the "normative" self. Celebrity, masculinity, and American religious cultures have become important themes offering a framework for coherency across the many modalities in which she work. Dr. Weber received a PhD from Miami University.