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I Watched The Goop Lab Episode About Vaginas and It Was Great?

I’m just as surprised as you are.

When I decided to write a piece on goop lab, I expected the headline to be something along the lines of “All The Fucked Things I Watched White Rich Women Do On Goop Lab” but instead, I’m coming into this piece with a LOT of thoughts.

You know goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness blog that always recommends the weirdest shit, especially when it comes (hehe) to vaginas: $66 jade eggs, vagina steaming, a candle that smells like Gwyneth’s vagina. Who gave this woman a Netflix show??

I decided to watch the third episode because it looked the most fun. The goop team “plunge into the topic of women’s pleasure” and I was ready to hear some fucked ideas about vaginas. The show starts with the disclaimer that the series is “designed to entertain and inform – not to provide medical advice.” No lawsuits here, baby.

The episode features Betty Dodson, a 90 year old sex educator who has been leading pleasure and orgasm workshops for women since the 1970’s. She’s taught over 7,000 women and that’s… actually kind of cool. During the episode, we see a group of women (Gwyneth is not one of them) practising consent, communication, and pleasure by giving each other hand and foot massages. Then they sit in a circle, completely naked, with their legs apart so they can all look at each other’s vulvas. It all feels weirdly empowering. Do I kind of want to be in that vulva circle?

The lack of literal visibility around vulvas can lead to anxiety around their appearance, to the point where labiaplasties have become the fastest growing cosmetic surgery in the world. The procedure involves removing or reducing the labia, the folds of skin around the vagina. Usually, it’s the inner labia that’s been removed, so that the vulva appears neater and tucked away.

Women’s bodies have always been hidden. In 1947, the editor of the most famous anatomy book, Grays Anatomy erased the clitoris from diagrams of the 25th edition, and no one noticed. It wasn’t until 1998 that urologist Helen O’Connell, mapped out the entire clitoris. The part of the clit we can see is only a tiny bit of a much larger internal organ. The world doesn’t see vulvas, and so it’s terrified of vulvas. That translates to fear of female bodies in general. Look at how the world treats abortion, sex, masturbation- women are never trusted with them.

The episode ends with Betty leading fellow sex educator, Carlin, through a one-on-one orgasm workshop. They’re relaxed and joking around, with Betty telling Carlin “you got good, strong PC [pelvic floor] muscle, kid.” It feels entirely non sexual, but intimate in a way that feels exclusive to those with vaginas. I feel almost weepy for some reason.

I’ve always thought of myself as more sex positive than the average 21 year old. When I was 15, I was teaching my friends about the importance of lube in sex, knowledge I had gotten from hours of Laci Green videos. I’m the sort of person my friends go to when they want to buy their first vibrator. I’m a gender studies student for God’s sake! But watching goop lab, I realised that maybe there’s some internalised ideas about my body, sex, and pleasure that I need to explore.

Give the episode a watch. Challenge yourself and your ideas. Focus on your body. Feel shit. Let’s make 2020 the year we free ourselves from internalised shame and misogyny.

Image Sources: Netflix, Twitter

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