Gwyneth’s at it again, folks. But she’s not telling you to steam your vagina this time (which, by the way, don’t), she’s just giving you all sorts of “great” sex advice. I read it so you don’t have to. You can thank me in clicks.
Photo: Karl Cossio, CC BY 2.0
Gwyneth Paltrow’s woo-laden Goop magazine has released an issue that’s all about sex, and if the former advice about steaming your vagina is anything to go by, it’s going to be a trip. Let’s have a look.
Exhibit A, a piece entitled “I Yam What I Eat: Is Lube Toxic?”
I know, you can already feel that eye twitch starting up again. You just want to shout “no!” and move on. But push through: there’s so much Goopy goodness to read. “We’d never considered what went into lube,” they write. Fair enough. “…and that it’s actually super toxic (the most popular options contain parabens, for one).” Palm, meet face. “Super toxic,” not like, normal toxic, right? And parabens! God save us from parabens in our lube. Look, if there were such a thing as “super” toxicity parabens wouldn’t exactly be the poster child. There’s no evidence they cause cancer (although it was claimed back in 2004 and then refuted the next year), and if you’re worried about them mimicking hormones, you should probably be a lot more worried (though still not very worried) about all that soy in your diet. The FDA has a whole website dedicated to your questions about parabens.
But wait, that’s just the introduction to the article! It’s actually an interview with a doctor about better alternatives! Except that the person interviewed, who they keep referring to as “Dr.”, is actually Maggie Ney, ND. That’s Naturopathic Doctor. As in, not actually a doctor. I’m not going to go into all the things I think are insane about even comparing naturopaths and medical professionals, but if you want to immerse yourself in that nuttiness, here’s ND Confession Parts I and II over at Science-Based Medicine for your personal edification.
So much for that.
Next we have a pretty bog-standard Cosmo article, “The Secret to Erotic Sensation & Sexual Fulfillment” featuring advice on “How to Move Energy South.” I assume “south” means “to your genitals” but honestly, I didn’t read it that well. Whenever someone mentions “energy” and “tantric sex” I just end up with a picture of Sting in metal underwear in my head, for which I entirely blame David Lynch. Anyway if you make it past that there’s advice on how to stop “too much energy pooling in the upper part of our bodies” by “mov[ing] your body in non-linear ways.” There’s some of what reads like decent advice on how to enjoy sex more by learning to relax, but honestly, you don’t really need a magazine article to tell you that sex is better when you’re not worried about the next board meeting/making rent/feeding your kids/getting five goddamn minutes of peace and quiet somewhere in this godforsaken day/etc.
There’s an article that basically amounts to an ad for a specific app plus insertable kegel trainer that I’m sure is fine, if not for sexual function, then maybe for stress relief, if that’s what you’re into.
There’s an article by one “Dr. Sadeghi” that might be plausible until it in completely unironic terms makes reference to orgone-energy imagineer and cloudbuster Wilhelm Reich‘s thoroughly-debunked theories of “emotional armoring.”
And there’s an article on “The Promise of Hormone-Free Tech” and whether it can lead to better sex. These “tech” things read, just like you’d expect, like woo-based spa treatments more than anything else: “the FemiLift CO2 fractional laser treatment,” “the ThermiVa radiofrequency treatment,” “Fiera by Nuelle.” The first supposedly helps with newly-developed stress-based incontinence in women (usually after birth), but in the only study I could find they didn’t appear to be able to show that it wasn’t the women’s bodies just healing themselves, so, there’s that. The only study I could find of the efficacy of radiofrequency vaginal tightening was only designed to show that it was safe rather than that it was effective. And Fiera is a… well, it’s a high-tech suction cup that a woman wears over her genitals for a few minutes before sex to get her in the mood. Which does I think require one to ask: if you’re having trouble getting in the mood, won’t you also have trouble getting in the mood to use a device to get in the mood? YMMV.
If anything, this whole issue reads like a rather compelling argument that (a) sexual dysfunction is viewed by many women as a legitimate problem, and that (b) there aren’t a hell of a lot of effective solutions, which leads to a whole lot of dubious-in-the-extreme “solutions” being sold for a high price to willing and desperate guinea pigs. And that’s an article best left for Lindsey on a given Feminist Friday.
Honestly, the TL;DR of this article is that Goop is Goopy, even (or especially) when talking about sex. You probably knew that already, but hey, now you know for sure.
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Richard Ford Burley is a human, writer, and doctoral candidate at Boston College, as well as an editor at Ledger, the first academic journal devoted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In his spare time he writes about science, skepticism, feminism, and futurism here at This Week In Tomorrow.