Female Empowerment Flick Explores Women’s Right to Climax
Did you know that in the state of Texas you can own as many guns as you like but possession of six or more vibrators is illegal? That’s what Joanne Webb discovered when she was arrested for violation of the state’s obscenity laws after starting a business dedicated to the sale of female erotica. In fact, the case took such a toll on her family that by the time it was resolved her husband had suffered a nervous breakdown and they had lost their once-prosperous construction company.
As antediluvian as Texas might seem for enforcing such an archaic statute, it is still also a felony to sell such sexual devices in Alabama, Georgia and Kansas, too. And even in many places where there might not be such ordinances on the books, the dominant culture tends to penalize women for openly admitting an interest in maximizing pleasure.
This is the basic thesis of Passion & Power, a daring documentary directed by Emiko Emori and Wendy Blair Slick, a couple of progressive feminists who are quick to point out how men have historically been lauded for seeking sexual satisfaction. They suggest that meanwhile society has been stuck in deep denial about a woman’s libidinous urges since the Victorian Era when discourse about the female orgasm began to be discouraged.
The filmmakers provide proof that prior to that period, women’s libidos had actually been celebrated in popular literature as a natural aspect of fertility and reproduction. Among the sexperts sharing their sage insights on the subject are Dr. Rachel Maines, author of the book “The Technology of Orgasm,” and Dr. Betty Dodson, author of “Sex for One.”
The film includes a delightful discussion of the evolution of the dildo over the last 2,500 years, from the first fairly crude contraptions to the steam-powered machines of the 19th Century to the early electronic versions like the Vibra King to the plethora of pleasure providers available today, whether in stores like San Francisco’s Good Vibrations, at websites like www.EvesGarden.com or at house parties hosted by a franchise chain known as Passion Parties.
A tasteful examination of the climax strictly from the female perspective, incorporating a clever combination of the clinical, the carnal and even the downright comical.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 74 minutes
Studio: First Run Features
DVD Extras: Additional interviews, trailer, “Behind the Scenes” documentary and a featurette about antique vibrators.