Past RWWP Events 2010-2011

Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Chair (2010-2011)

Thea Cacchioni

Thea earned her BA in Women’s Studies at UBC and her MA and PhD in Gender Studies and Sociology at the University of Warwick, UK. For the past few years, she has worked as a full-time lecturer at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. 

Thea's research interests include gender; sexuality; health; medicalization; ‘Female Sexual Dysfunction;’ and ‘Sexual Revolution.’ She has published in the journals Sexualities, Sociology, and the Sociology of Health and Illness. She is currently working on a book entitled 'The Labour of Love: Women in the Second Sexual Revolution' (University of Toronto Press).

Thea believes that a truly integrated perspective on women’s health does not end in the classroom. In June, 2010 she testified at an FDA advisory hearing against the approval of Flibanserin, a daily anti-depressant drug with several 'unsexy' side-effects (proposed to treat 'hypo-active sexual desire disorder' in pre-menopausal women). In September, 2010 she will attend a counter-symposium to the 'Second Global Symposium on Cosmetic Vaginal Surgery' in Las Vegas, Nevada. During her residency at SFU, she will teach a class on the medicalization of sex, chair an interdisciplinary, multi-media conference on this theme (April 29th-30th, 2011), and engage in other forms of public outreach in this area.

Click here to listen to an interview with Thea on Female Sexual Dysfunction

Click here to hear podcast "Sex for health: Part one of the documentary series The Medicalization of Sex" heard on Meghan Murphy's radio show, The F Word

Final Report from Thea Cacchioni, Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Chair (2010-2011)

Public Events

October 9, 2010: Cacchioni, Thea & Carol Wolkowitz (2010) 'Treating Women's Sexual Difficulties: Touch as Social Interaction' Sex, Bodies, and Emotions in Everyday Life: A Conference in Honour of John Gagnon, Glasgow New Caledonian University

November 24, 2010: 'The Sexuopharmaceutical Era: A "Second Sexual Revolution?" Women & Gender Studies Seminar Series, UBC, Vancouver

February 9, 2011: "Challenging the Medicalization of Women's Sexual Problems: Towards an Integrated Feminist Approach,"
Women's Studies noontime lecture series, Langara University

February 28, 2011: Traveling Speakers Series: "Learning About Sex and Love in the Post Viagra Age", Whitehorse, YT

February 28, 2011: Traveling Speakers Series: CBC Radio Interview CBC North with Sandi Coleman, Whitehorse, YT

February 28, 2011: Traveling Speakers Series: "Sex, Lies and Medicine: The Search for the 'Pink Viagra'", Whitehorse, YT

March 1, 2011: Traveling Speakers Series: "Challenging the Medical View of Women's Sexual Problems", Whitehorse, YT

Final Conference Report

Final Conference Report

The conference was inspired almost one year prior when Thea Cacchioni, professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at SFU testified against the FDA approval of the drug flibanserin, an ineffective and harmful daily anti-depressant drug proposed to treat women’s “low sexual desire.” It was there she first met members of the New View Campaign, a feminist scholar-activist group which has challenged the burgeoning sexual pharmaceutical industry since 2000. The FDA experience reminded Cacchioni of the potential power of international, cross-disciplinary alliance and coalition. Read more...

Print or save in pdf format (535 KB)

Female Sexual Dysfunction: Pharmaceutical sham or opportunity for empowerment?


April 18, 2011: The fword talks about "The Medicalization of Sex" Co-op   102.7FM Radio (click to download or listen)

About the conference

April 28th-30th, 2011, Vancouver, Canada

Since the 19th Century, more and more areas of everyday life have been exposed to medical diagnosis, surveillance, and treatment, subject to psychiatric, surgical, and pharmaceutical intervention. Sex is no exception. The medicalization of sex is a complex and fascinating phenomenon which occurs at the intersection of technology, culture, medicine, gender, sexuality, global capitalism, and rapid social change. The Medicalization of Sex conference will critically examine historical and recent developments associated with the medical diagnosis, treatment, and surveillance of sex. The event, organized by Thea Cacchioni, Simon Fraser University’s Junior Ruth Wynn Woodward Chair in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, will be held from April 28th-30th, 2011 at the Simon Fraser University's Segal School of Business (500 Granville Street) and the Woodward Cinema (149 West Hastings Street), with an off-campus event at the Gallery Gachet (88 East Cordova Street).

Conference objectives are to: bring together international, interdisciplinary junior and senior researchers, students, health practitioners, artists, and activists in order to create networking opportunities and encourage cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, and inter-generational collaboration and knowledge transfer: to bring a range of topics on the medicalization of sex together in order to create links between discrete areas of study; to include internationally-known activists, educators, and health practitioners as a way of strategizing and celebrating strategies for resistance to the medicalization of sex at grassroots, academic and policy levels.

Public Events

Screening of Orgasm Inc: the strange science of female pleasure

at Woodward’s Cinema
149 West Hastings Street (entrance off Cordova St.)
Date: Thursday, April 28th
Time: 7:00-9:15 p.m.

free with conference registration, $15 for guests not registered for the conference
free with conference registration, $15 for guests not registered for the conference

Tickets are $15 and will be sold at the door
starting at 6:00 p.m. the evening of the movie
for anyone who missed the registration process

For those of you who are not planning to attend the conference, please join us for this public event

About the Documentary

Orgasm Inc. is award-winning director Liz Canner’s first feature documentary. In the shocking and hilarious documentary ORGASM INC., 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. ORGASM INC. is a powerful look inside the medical industry and the marketing campaigns that are literally and figuratively reshaping our everyday lives around health, illness, desire—and that ultimate moment—orgasm. Upbeat, engaging, enlightening, and provocative, ORGASM INC. will forever change the way you think about sex.

Art Exhibition titled, "Antidote"

one night only, Friday, April 29 from 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
at the Gallery Gachet, 88 Cordova Street, Vancouver.
Jennifer Safronick, Curator

Click here for Antidote Poster (685 KB)
Click here for Downloadable New View Campaign poster(188 KB)
check out


An interdisciplinary critique questioning the ways in which medicalization limits bodily and sexual diversity, constructs narrow definitions of what is sexually ‘normal’, imposes new forms of surveillance and control, serves profits over pleasures, and leads to serious physical and psychological health side‐effects.

Themes include:

  • Deviant Bodies and Sexual ‘normalcy’
  • Body diversity
  • Asexualities/Queer Sexualities/Intersexualites/Heterosexualites
  • Surveillance and Treatment (psychiatric, surgical and pharmaceutical interventions)
  • Big Pharma Culture (Sexuopharmaceutical)
  • Sexual Function/Dysfunction
  • Market Searching Phenomenon

Press Release

Click for Downloadable pdf version of Press Release (74 KB)


Downloadable Printable Version available here! (pdf version 758 KB)

Abbreviated version below:

Here is an abbreviated program outline just to let everyone know the start and end times each day. This will help participants and attendees determine flight and hotel bookings.

Day 1 - Thursday, April 28, 2011

7:00 p.m. - 9:15 p.m.

Registration & Welcome Speeches plus Screening of Documentary: Orgasm Inc.: The Strange Science of Female Sexual Pleasure Welcome Evening at Woodward's Cinema, 149 West Hastings Street Vancouver. Q&A/Discussion afterwards.

Day 2 - Friday, April 29, 2011

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Registration, talks and breakout sessions.

7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Art Reception: Antidote at Gallery Gachet, 88 Cordova Street, Vancouver.
Curator: Jennifer Safronick (SFU).

Day 3 - Saturday, April 30, 2011

8:30 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.

Talks and breakout sessions.


Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowment Fund
Simon Fraser University Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies
Simon Fraser University Office of the President
Office of the Vice President Academic
Office of the Vice President Research
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
SFU Department of English
University of British Columbia Women's and Gender Studies Program
The New View Campaign, a feminist education project

Fairwinds Design
Russell Beer      

Abstracts and Biographies

Keynote Speakers

Jennifer Terry, Associate Professor
Women's Studies
University of California, Irvine
Transnational Sexual Politics: Exporting Ex-Gay Therapies to the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America

Leonore Tiefer
New View Campaign
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
NYU School of Medicine
The New View Campaign: A Case Study of Scholarship and Resistance to "Female Sexual Dysfunction" Disease Mongering

Special Guests

Virginia Braun
Department of Psychology
University of Auckland
The Not-So-Curious Case of the Designer Vagina

Liz Canner
Director of Orgasm Inc
Introduction and Discussion:
Orgasm Inc.: The Strange Science of Female Sexual Pleasure

Carol Groneman
History and Interdisciplinary Studies
Nymphomania: A History

Rebecca Jordan-Young, Assistant Professor
Women's Studies
Confessions of the Flesh: Aiming for Objective Measures of Desire

Barbara Marshall
Department of Sociology
Trent University
Sexualizing the Third Age: Medicalization and the Reconstruction of Sexual Life Courses

Elizabeth Reis, Associate Professor
Women’s and Gender Studies
University of Oregon
Intersex, Fetal Dex, and the Disordered Medical World

Judy Segal
Department of English
University of British Columbia
The (Re)Sexualization of the Medical

Breakout Sessions

Abstracts and Biographies (A-Z)

Katherine Angel
Centre for the History of Medicine
University of Warwick
Biological Psychiatry and Postfeminism in Female Sexual Dysfunction

Tara Bates
Gender, Work and Social Inquiry
University of Adelaide
"Who Cares what the DSM says?": Reorienting Questions of Power and Docility Concerning Psychiatrists' attitudes towards the DSM

Carellin Brooks, DPhil
Sessional Faculty, Women's and Gender Studies Program
University of British Columbia
The Medicalization of Breastfeeding

Monica Brown, PhD Student
Department of English
University of British Columbia
Revisiting Metaphors of Women’s Sexuality in Female Sexual Dysfunction

Dr Thomas Bryant
Historical and political Adult Education
Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin
University of Applied Sciences
Medicalization by Sterilization: Surgical Dealing with Sexual Deviancy in Imperial and Weimar Germany

Jessica Butler, PhD Candidate
Department of History
Boston College
Making Homosexuality Medical: Nazi Notions of Sexual Degeneracy

Alan Cassels, Drug Policy Researcher
University of Victoria
Pharma and the Male “Just Fix it” Mentality: Why Men are and will Likely Continue to be the Main Market for Human Sexual Enhancement Drugs

Meghan Chandler
Visual Studies
UC Irvine
Sickness, Sexuality, Secrets: The Erotic Anatonomies of Hannah Wilke and Annie Sprinkle

Carm De Santis, Adjunct Professor
Department of Sexuality, Marriage,
and Family Studies (SMF),
St. Jerome’s University
University of Waterloo
BJ Rye, Associate Professor
Psychology and Sexuality, Marriage,
and Family Studies Departments
St. Jerome’s University
University of Waterloo
Joint: “I May Look Like What You Want, but it Don’t Feel Good Anymore”: The Impact of Medical Tampering on Women with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome’s Sexuality

Rachel Hope Cleves
Assistant Professor, Department of History
University of Victoria
Contagion, Masturbation, and Same-Sex Sexuality among Antebellum American Girls
Jillian Deri, PhD Candidate
Department of Sociology
Simon Fraser University
Gender Differences in Re-Imagining Jealousy in Polyamorous Relationships

Marion Doull, Postdoctoral Fellow
Youth Sexual Health Team, School of Population and Public Health
Faculty of Medicine
University of British Columbia
Subject, Object, or Both? Defining the Boundaries of “Girl Power”

Prof. Pat Elliot, Chair
Department of Sociology
Wilfrid Laurier University
Losing the Subject: A critical Reading of Bio-Reductive Theories of Transsexuality

Maral Erol, Lecturing Fellow
Thompson Writing Program
Duke University
Blaming Women, Helping Women: Medicalization of Sexuality in Menopause

Samantha Fashler
Pain Lab
University of British Columbia
The Sexual, Psychological and Body Image Health of Women Undergoing Elective Vulvovaginal Plastic/Cosmetic Procedures

Trevor Floyd
Institute of Professional Psychology,
Manhattan Psychiatric Center
Dhat Syndrome: The Influence of Medicalization and Globalization on the Presentation and Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction in South Asian Men

Jana Funke
University of Exeter
Sexual History Before The History of Sexuality: Constructions of the Past in Havelock Ellis’ Studies In the Psychology of Sex

Lee Gale
Press for Change
Jay McNeil
Coordinator, TransBareAll
Joint: Testing Real Lif

Jessi Gan, PhD Candidate
Program in American Culture
University of Michigan
Racial Language in Early Sexual Science

Trish Garner, PhD Student
Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies,
Simon Fraser University
“Manboobs” and the Failure to Achieve Heterosexuality

Alain Giami, PhD
Gender, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Le Kremlin Bicetre, France
English Translation: Transformations in the Medicalization of Sex:   HIV Prevention and the Disappearance of the Human Factor
French Translation: Transformations dans la medicalisation de la sexualité: la prévention du VIH et la disparition du facteur humain

Dr Robert Gillett
School of Languages, Linguistics and Film
Queen Mary University of London
Notes from an Initial Laundry: AIDS and the Queer Turn in the Medicalization of Sex                

Dr. Mona Gleason, Associate Professor
Department of Education
University of British Columbia
Anika Stafford, PhD Student
Centre for Women's and Gender Studies
University of British Columbia
Summer Camp Special Services: Psychiatric Monitoring of Gender Nonconforming Children and their Families

Kristina Gupta, PhD Student
Department of Women's Studies
Emory University
Sex for Health: Representations of Sex as a Health-Promoting Activity

Bridget Gurtler, (PhD Candidate
Department of History
Rutgers University
From “Artificial Impregnation” to “Test-Tube Babies”: Narratives in Nomenclature in the Early History of Artificial Insemination, 1850-1940

Prof. Dr Antje Kampf
Institute for the History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine,
Universitytsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universities
Urogenital borderlands: ductus ejaculatorius  and the (un)making of Male Identities

Anita Kurimay, PhD candidate
Department of History
Rutgers University
Rehabilitating Sexual Abnormals: Queers and Hungary’s Soviet Criminology Tribunal

Christine Labuski
Postdoctoral Fellow
Centre for the Study of Women, Gender, & Sexuality
Rice University
Diagnostic Delays: Seeking Relief for Vulvar Distress

Dr Dany Lacombe, Professor and Acting Chair
Dept of Sociology and Anthropology, Simon Fraser University
Medicalization of Sex Offenders in Prison

Tracy Penny Light, PhD
Assistant Professor, Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies/History
St. Jerome's University
Being Normal…Surgically: The Medical Discourse on Cosmetic Surgery in the 20th Century

Amanda Lock Swarr
Assistant Professor, Women Studies, University of Washington
Medical Experimentation and the Raced Incongruence of Gender under Apartheid

Olga Marques, PhD Student, ABD
Department of Criminology
University of Ottawa
“Men Are Visual” and Other Porn Fallacies: The Mal(e)practice of Female Sexual Desire

Britta McEwen
Assistant Professor, Creighton University
Professionalizing the Personal: Eugenics and Sex Education in Interwar Vienna

Kathryn Pauly Morgan, PhD
Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto
Medico-Sexualized Therapeutic Contact: “Therapeutic Erections?” or Acts of Eroto-Terrorism?

Loren A. Olson, MD
Adonis Makes Me Sick

Treena Orchard
School of Health Studies,
University of Western Ontario
Arn Schilder, Researcher
BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
Warren Michelow,
Drug Treatment Program
BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
Robert Hogg
Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences
Simon Fraser University
and Director, HIV/AIDS Drug Treatment Program BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
Joint: Dark Matter: The Almost Untold Story
of Rectal Douching Among Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM)

Eric Plemons, PhD Candidate
Anthropology, UC Berkeley
It Is As It Does: Genital Form and Function in Sex Reassignment surgery

Jessica Polzer
Department of Women’s Studies
and Feminist Research
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Western Ontario
Susan Knabe
Department of Women’s Studies
and Feminist Research
Faculty of Information & Media Studies
University of Western Ontario
Joint: Risk, Biotechnology and the Neomedicalization of t(w)een Sexuality:
The Case of HPV Vaccination

Katherine Poole, PhD Candidate
Political Science, York University
Quantifying Pleasure: Medicine’s Sadean Narrative of Transgender Sexuality

Ana Porroche Escudero
Breast Cancer: A Textbook Case of the Medicalization of Women's Sexuality

Ela Przybylo
Women’s Studies, University of Alberta
Disordering Lack Disorders: Asexuality and the Politics of “Not Doing It”

Judith Raiskin, Associate Professor
Women's and Gender Studies
University of Oregon
Tee Corinne vs. The Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Clinic:Can Art Trim Cosmetic Genitoplasty?

Sal Renshaw, PhD
Associate Professor & Chair,
Gender Equality & Social Justice/Religions and Cultures
Nipissing University
Screening Sex, Scripting Desire, Constructing Normal

Miriam Reumann
Department of History, University of Rhode Island
“Nothing More than a Normal Boy:”Peer Culture, Normalcy, and Sexual Modernity in the 1920s

Sylvie Rivard, Ph.D. candidate
Interdisciplinary Program in Rural and Northern Health
Laurentian University
After Gynaecological Cancer: Women's Experiences and Identity

Wrenna Robertson
Show Off Books
I'll Show you Mine: A Celebration of the Vulva Diversity

Sara Rodrigues, MA Candidate
The Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism
University of Western Ontario
The Will to Orgasm: Vaginoplasty, Female Sexual 'Dysfunction' and the Biopolitics of Pleasure

Sarah Rudrum, PhD Student
Centre for Women's and Gender Studies, UBC
Orgasmic Birth and the Regulation of Women's Experiences

Jane Russo, Graduation Program
Public Health
Instituto de Medicina Social
State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Researcher, Latin-American Centre for Sexuality
and Human Rights (CLAM/IS/UERJ)
Fabiola Rohden, Graduation Program
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)
Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro
Joint: Clinical Sexology in Contemporary Brazil: the Professional Dispute among Divergent Medical Views on Gender and Sexuality
Dafna M. Sagiv-Reiss, PhD
Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences
Department of Nursing
University of Haifa
Marilyn P. Safir, Director
Project Kidma-for the Advancement of Women and Department of Psychology
University of Haifa
Gurit E. Birnbaum
School of Psychology
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya
Joint: I am Pregnant—Not Sick: Changes in Sexual Experiences and Body Image Throughout the Trimesters of Pregnancy

Caroline Sanders
Paediatric Urology and Gynaecology, Liverpool
A Narrative Study of Parents’ Experiences of their Child’s Genital Ambiguity:
How does Surgery Act as a Form of Protection?

Erin Sapp, Doctoral Student
Gender and Sexuality Studies, Tulane University
Sanity, Satisfaction, and Sociality: Transitions in Medico-Psychological Views of Masturbation, 1890s to 1920s

Sandra Seekins
Art History Faculty, Capilano University
Weimar Visual Culture and Magnus Hirschfeld’s Images of Sexual Variance

Neslihan Sen, PhD Candidate
University of Illinois
Talking Through Medicine: Vaginismus as a Channel for Public Discourse of Women's Sexuality in Turkey

Toni Serafini
Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies Department,
St. Jerome’s University
University of Waterloo
“My Identifier is ‘Big Tits’?!”: Cosmetic Enhancements and Identity Formation in Adolescent Females

Dr. Christabelle Sethna, Professor
Institute of Women's Studies
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Ottawa
On the Pill: Canadian Feminists’ Views of Oral Contraception, 1960-1980

Krista Sigurdson, PhD candidate
Sociology, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
The Medicalization or Sexualization of Breasts in Contemporary Breastfeeding Rights Discourse

Elizabeth Stephens, ARC Research Fellow and Deputy Director
Centre for the History of European Discourses, Queensland
The Emergence of “Normality” as Medical Concept: Notes Towards a Critical Genealogy

Robert Scott Stewart, PhD
Department of Philosophy, Cape Breton University
Constructing Aberrant Behaviour: The DSM and the Classification of Sexual Paraphilias and Disorders

Jemma Tosh, PhD Student
Psychology of Women, British Psychological Society
Coordinator of the Feminist Reading and Research Group
Manchester Metropolitan University
The Medicalisation of Rape: A Discourse Analysis of Online Conversations about “Paraphilic Coercive Disorder”

Shannon Vogels, MA Student
Communications, SFU
Good Girls and Gardasil: The HPV Vaccine and Sexual Health Discourse in Popular Media

Caroline Walters, Ph.D. student
Sexuality and Gender Studies
University of Exeter
The Signification of Self-Inflicted Wounds: The Relationship between the Individual, Masochism and Self-Harm

Eleanor Wilkinson, Doctoral Student
School of Geography, University of Leeds, UK
Compulsory Sexuality: Choice, Anxiety and Constraint

Travis L.C. Wisdom, Independent Researcher
Questioning “Circumcisionism”: Challenging the Medicalization of Male Genital Surgeries

Ruth E. Zielinski, PhD, CNM
University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Private Places—Private Shame: Women’s Genital Body Image and Sexual Health