Don't let the title turn you off. I haven't seen the film yet myself, but I appreciated Rixa's review of the film in which she explains:
I found myself particularly troubled with the word “orgasmic.” I think a number of other words describe more accurately what the filmmaker is trying to communicate in this film: ecstatic, empowering, or transformative come to mind. In our society, orgasmic is always used in the narrow, sexual sense. In that sense, orgasmic birth = having a literal orgasm during birth. But that isn’t really what the film is talking about at all. We do see at least one woman literally having an orgasm during her labor (she said it was very unexpected and quite lovely), but the other women experience something else, something more nuanced and more complex than simplistic sexual climax. . . .
The other day, I looked up “orgasmic” in the dictionary. . . . The second meaning, one not in circulation in our everyday language, is “intense or unrestrained excitement” or “a similar point of intensity of emotional excitement.”
I had an “aha!” moment. Debra Pascali-Bonaro is arguing that birth can be a peak emotional, physical, and spiritual experience. And given the right setting and preparation, birth can include moments of ecstasy, transcendence and occasionally even sexual pleasure. Her film explains the hormonal and environmental similarities between making babies and having babies. If we see birth not as just a narrow equivalent of sex, but rather sex and birth and breastfeeding as a continuum of important and inter-related life experiences, then the phrase “orgasmic birth” makes much more sense. Think of it this way: if women were expected to make love in the same kind of setting that they labor and birth in (in a clinical environment, observed by unfamiliar professionals, monitored and tethered to machines, and above all their biological rhythms forced to adhere to a strict timetable), they would undoubtedly have a high rate of sexual dysfunction and disappointment.After watching the film three times, here's how Rixa's concludes:
In sum: the birth scenes are incredible and the movie is worth watching for that reason alone. They're not overly romanticized or sanitized. I found them incredibly realistic, in all their variety, about what giving birth normally is like. I'd like a different title, because I think that it will keep many people from watching it, but I also understand the rhetorical power of "orgasmic birth."Rixa's review helped dispel any hesitancy I might have had about viewing the film. And I have since heard multiple women describe Orgasmic Birth as their all-time favorite birth film. Rixa also interviewed Orgasmic Birth's filmmaker, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, if you want to check that out.
I am looking forward to seeing the film. Are you coming?