Day Twenty: April 6


  1. Remember to complete Engaging Assignment #2 about Orgasm, inc (Download the word document for typing your responses on the assignments page).
  2. Diablog groups for next week should read the Levine and Fahs (both available through WebVista)
Some thoughts about Tiefer:
I chose the readings for this week (Tiefer, Koedt, Lorde) to complement the film. Both Koedt and Lorde provide some feminist articulations of the importance of women's sexual agency and some cultural/political factors that strip women of their sexual agency/pleasure. 

Tiefer, who is in the film, provides us with more details about the problems with medicalizing women's desire and their inability to orgasm. One key problem she identifies is the narrow model of sex = intercourse, with its ingredients: desire (for intercourse) + genital arousal + timely orgasm + ability to enjoy vaginal penetration. The overemphasis by the medical model, which she calls "sexumedicine," on ensuring that the genitals are stimulated leads to an ignoring of other, non-medical, reasons for a failure to orgasm:

 the amount of time devoted to getting the penis hard and the vagina wet vastly outweighs the attention devoted to assessment or education about sexual motives, scripts, pleasure, power, emotionality, sensuality, communication, or connectedness (90). 

Key to a feminist analysis of this issue is an analysis of unequal power relations between men and women. Women do not equal political or personal sexual power:
  • incomplete health care
  • greater social pressure to marry
  • frequent trading of sex for socioeconomic advantages
  • greater burden in home care/childcare/eldercare
  • poor self-esteem
  • greater fear of being labeled a slut
The unwillingness of media and many sex experts to grapple with gender and power has created a false picture of women's sexual reality which the current wave of medicalized thinking will only make worse (91).  The medicalization of desire and the promotion of a pill to solve women's inability to experience sexual pleasure is not the only problem, but it serves to exacerbate the problem. 

According to the film, how does the "race for a pill" contribute to the problem?

KEY: Women's sexual agency and their ability to express and experience their own sexual desires (remember Wilkerson, Rubin)?

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Screen shot 2011-04-06 at 9.12.06 AM.png

  • What is "normal" sexual pleasure?
  • What is at stake when bodies are labeled diseased (not just not normal, but sick/diseased)?
  • What important issues aren't discussed when we focus our attention only on medical solutions?

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