10 Pages

Orgasms for Sale: The Role of Profit and Politics in Addressing Women’s Sexual Satisfaction

In 1971, when the Boston Women’s Health Course Collective wrote the chapter on sexuality for the first edition of Our Bodies, Our Selves (OB OS), they offered a fundamental challenge to the idea that women’s feelings and concerns about sexuality could be explained or addressed by books or doctors or courses that focused exclusively on “How-ToDo-It.” The widely accepted assumption at the time was that women who didn’t enjoy sex were frigid, but this assumption ignored many of the important factors that affected women’s sexual experiences. The au­ thors of OBOS, the classic feminist text on health, asserted that “ ‘Fri­ gidity’ or inadequacy in bed is not divorced from the social realities we experience all the time” (Boston Women’s Health Course Collective, 1971). Instead of defining women’s sexual problems in terms of repres­ sion or failure to reach orgasm, they explained, women’s relationship to sex and their bodies needed to be considered in the context of the social, political and economic forces that affect all aspects of women’s lives.