It’s not often you hear about the inner workings of the vagina talked about openly on TV, and it’s certainly not often you see a real live woman having a real live orgasm on your screen (no, seriously). Goop has given us the documentary series we didn’t know we needed in our lives, and the episode titled ‘The Pleasure Is Ours’ has to be the best one of them all. But what is it about this episode that’s turning heads?
Yes, it’s the stuff you find in the corner of your eye after a good night’s sleep, but it also just happens to be the name of Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand. Founded in 2011, the company is no stranger to controversy and, erm, lawsuits.
Since its inception Goop has, time and time again, instructed women to partake in scientifically unjustified (and sometimes seemingly unsafe) wellness rituals in the name of improving our vaginal condition. The now infamous jade egg controversy is often discussed in popular culture.
When Goop claimed inserting a jade egg into your birth canal could increase sexual energy and pleasure - which of course, it doesn’t - they were eventually sued for false claims. And remember that time Gwyneth Paltrow suggested steaming our vaginas over bowls of boiling water? Again, not advisable. Then of course there’s the Goop candle named “this smells like my vagina” - we’ll save you the 75 dollars… it probably doesn’t smell like your vagina.
Despite all the eye-rolling that Goop induces in us, it’s hard to knock The Goop Lab, which is the new Netflix documentary series where Gwyneth Paltrow sends her Goop employees out to try workshops and techniques that are pushing the boundaries of wellness. That is to say, they’re a bit ‘out there’.
From trying magic mushrooms for helping to heal past trauma, to jumping into a frozen lake as a way to curb anxiety, there’s a lot of weird and fascinating things packed into this short series. But after binge-watching the whole series, there is one episode in particular that is right up our alley here at Yoppie, and to title it in the style of Friends, its ‘the one with all the vaginas’.
Nobody asked for Gwyneth and co. to weigh in on yet another vaginal wellness technique, but they did, and they actually did it justice.
The episode cleverly discusses society’s understanding and view of female pleasure, and reveals that most women actually have no idea what their vagina looks like, never mind how it works. One alarming statistic they highlighted was from a 2016 study conducted by The Eve Appeal, which states that from a survey of 1000 British women:
44% were unable to identify their vagina in a medical illustration and 60% could not label the vulva.
There are hand mirrors and group vagina gazing, a montage of vulvas, some more surprising statistics that’ll enlighten women and men alike, and 90-year-old sex educator Betty Dodson being everyone’s favourite cheeky grandmother (seriously, she's our forever hero). Oh, and an on-screen orgasm.
The episode manages to leave us somewhat de-shamed when it comes to our genitalia and what we enjoy doing with them. When it came to the on-screen masturbation scene (done by Betty Dodson’s right hand woman, Carlin Ross) we’re left feeling less icky than we thought we’d be, and much more empowered. How did they do it?
The whole episode leads up to the on-screen orgasm, and while you may have felt throughout that you’re in for an awkward ride, the whole thing is surprisingly tasteful, educational and downright beautiful. There’s nothing even remotely pornographic about it, and frame by frame the camera technique expertly tells the story of women shedding their insecurities, shame, and deep-rooted beliefs about their sexuality and desires.
The idea of a woman having an orgasm onscreen? Heavens no! It’s always had an air of cultural revulsion, and there’s a lot to untangle there - more than one episode could handle. But Goop, with a little help from Betty and Carlin Ross (and the tequila shot we hear she downed before filming), has managed to make something that actually peels back a layer or two and reveals a more realistic, honest expression of female sexuality.
And if you’re wondering how it’s possible that Netflix allowed such a controversial scene to air, you might like to know that according to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the team didn’t ask permission. They just went ahead and made the episode, and hoped that everyone would be OK with it - sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission! - we like your style, Gwyneth.
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