Elise Loehnen, the Chief Content Officer at GOOP and Gwyneth Paltrow’s right-hand woman, was recently interviewed by The Times and had some incorrect and less than flattering things to say about Cosmopolitan and yours truly.
Loehnen was asked about the ongoing (and valid) concerns about much of the health content and health-related products sold by GOOP. Her reply included the following:
“We’re not Cosmo. We don’t do stories about, like, how to give a great blow job. We’re hippies, more or less, about women’s right to pleasure, like how to have a better orgasm, not about men’s pleasure or how we present ourselves. So it’s interesting. Why is that so threatening to people?”
And specifically about me:
“She’s an interesting one because I feel like we’re on the same side most of the time.”
“There’s nothing in here that feels demeaning to women. So I’m kind of confounded — why us? Like it seems like she should be going after Cosmopolitan or any number of people pushing a certain type of femininity. I feel that she’s built her brand on us, which is fascinating.”
There is a lot to unpack here, so buckle up bitches!
Yes, GOOP is not Cosmopolitan. They are not even a pale imitation.
While Cosmopolitan does have advice on blow jobs, if Loehnen actually read Cosmopolitan she would find that is less than 1 percent of their content and it is clearly not provided in a subservient to the patriarchy manner, as falsely implied.
Cosmopolitan has a broad range of technical sex advice, and it is not limited to blow jobs for heterosexual women. However, regarding their explicit heterosexual content it’s important to note many women only receive technical information from the least reliable sources: men, movies, TV, and porn (the first is often misinformed, the latter three are acting). Cosmopolitan helps fill that gap.
Cosmopolitan also doesn’t partner with a doctor who is an AIDS denialist and who claims that depression can be treated with daily coffee enemas. Cosmopolitan doesn’t tell women that bras cause breast cancer or recommend goat’s milk cleanses for non existent parasites.
Like GOOP, Cosmopolitan does have information on astrology, unlike GOOP they don’t promote astrology or the occult for health advice. I sat at a GOOP health conference and heard the lie that love can cure cancer. GOOP repeatedly promotes the Medical Medium, a man named Anthony Williams who claims he was born with an ability to talk with a ghost named Spirit. Spirit gives him health “advice” that he sells in books and consultations, such as eat apricots after 3 pm, celery has an undiscovered cluster salt, and thyroid disease is almost exclusively due to the Epstein Barr Virus.
If a doctor practiced as Williams preaches they would be committing malpractice, but on GOOP this bullshittery is empowering for women. Or something.
Loehnen is still plugging mediums as recently as the last GOOP “health” event. Because ghosts and health, amirite?
How do ghosts have so much health information anyway? Are they all doctors? If they are ancient doctors (the wisest, I presume) how do they know modern diagnoses? Maybe they watch Dr. Oz to catch up while they are waiting to pontificate about the temporal consumption of fruit.
Cosmopolitan also doesn’t have a store selling dubious, over priced health products such as useless supplements with cutesy names. Remember, my number one rule of online health information is ignore advice from sites that sell product.
“A certain type of femininity”
The sneering implication here is that women who read Cosmopolitan are silly tools of the patriarchy and that only GOOP can make you a RealWoman™ and that level of enlightenment can be unlocked with things like a “medicine bag” of healing stones for $85. These appear to be the same polished stones that can be bought for a few dollars at most National Parks and sold as pretty rocks. I found them online for $2/kg, less if you buy in bulk.
The stones are pocket change if you can afford the clothes, but GOOP sets trends and some people really believe advice from celebrities. People may skip medications to buy this product or delay care while waiting for them to work. Also, the term medicine bag is cultural appropriation.
GOOP has no issues weaponizing fears about femininity for profit. They use words like “pure,” “clean,” and “natural” — the same language as the patriarchy — to market supposedly better than conventional (but not really), yet definitely more expensive products as taking charge of your health.
GOOP has promoted vaginal steaming, the origins of which include the false belief that a uterus is full of toxins. If the myth weren’t so harmful, it would be laughable. If menstrual blood were filled with deadly toxins, how exactly does an embryo implant and thrive?
This lie has been used to exclude menstruating women from school, work, and religious services. Vaginal steaming is a literal tool of the patriarchy. A literal tool of the patriarchy.
I wrote that twice on purpose, because it’s a double tool of the patriarchy. You know the origins? In the era of Hippocrates almost every medical symptom a woman experienced that was bothersome to men, especially having an opinion, was hysteria. The cause? A rogue uterus wandering the body. (They called it womb, but I can’t because I fucking hate that word). Fragrant herbs between the legs were used to coax the uterus back into place, like a stunned sheep.
I shit you not.
But when Paltrow talks about squatting over a pot of steaming allergens this is the new feminism. I am sure you can hear my eye roll.
While Paltrow and GOOP didn’t invent vaginal steaming, they wrote about it for page clicks and most definitely kicked it into the mainstream. Her megaphone may lead women to try this at home or in a spa. Lies about vaginal steaming led one woman to try it for prolapse — and she got a second-degree burn.
Gaslighting everyone, but especially me!
I tackle bad posts and articles from numerous outlets, so the idea that I only go after GOOP is objectively incorrect. No “Summer Vagina” articles get past me without derision! For the record, I have poked fun many times at some of the sex positions on a Cosmo app.
Two years ago GOOP made ridiculous claims that jade eggs, advertised as yoni eggs, were an ancient secret of Chinese empresses and concubines and that they had all sorts of wild health benefits. This post implied sexually pleasing men with jade-honed vaginas allowed women to be the real rulers of China, so I guess if you want to be a ruler of men then you are one rock in your vagina away from glory.
(I don’t know how jade eggs for your vagina to enhance men’s pleasure in both Ancient China and 21st Century America is the right kind of feminism, but simple technical advice about a blow job isn’t, but I digress).
I wrote a post why jade eggs are bunk, how to actually do pelvic floor exercises, and why a “jade egg practice” could be harmful. I also doubted they could be recharged by the energy of the moon.
This apparently eggasperated GOOP’s editorial board, who wrote a post publicly chastising me.
To GOOP I was strangely confident about the vaginal ecosystem. Because that is exactly what a feminist does, tell a highly trained woman who is an expert that she is not an expert (read that in sarcasm font). Oh yeah, and have a man chastise her for swearing . That is super feminist too.
Instead of using the resulting press of being publicly attacked by a celebrity to market a line of vagiceuticals, I researched jade eggs with Dr. Sarah Parcak and, as expected, found they were not part of any ancient Chinese sexual empowerment. We published our findings in a peer-reviewed medical journal, as experts do.
GOOP was eventually fined $145,000 for, among other things, making false claims about the jade eggs.
But now GOOP and me, we’re on the same side!
I mean, no. Not at all.
GOOP feels they built my brand
Like they did my medical school, residency, and fellowship then helped me practice for 23 years? I guess they wrote all my posts and columns as well.
Simply another attempt to decredentialize me, a classic tool of the patriarchy.
I’ve actually written a lot less about GOOP lately because A) I had a book and columns to write B) Trump is trying to make abortion illegal and pulling fetal skulls out of abdomens after clandestine abortions isn’t something I want to do again so I’ve been writing about other things and C) frankly, it feels like punching down. I made an exception with this post.
Also, most people are on to GOOP. Maybe my writing, Tim Caulfield’s (his book, Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything and numerous columns), and the work of many, many others have helped, but team GOOP’s replies to criticisms have been painful and have become a bit of a running joke. They can be best summarized as follows:
We were just a blog, we didn’t know.
We don’t sell pseudoscience and snake oil. (Not sure what branch of medicine studies psychic vampire repellant?).
We’re just asking questions and having conversations.
We’re not telling anyone to do what we say. (Unsure why they sell the mentioned products?).
We don’t know what the fuck we talk about
Gunter is strangely confident
We’re on the same side as Gunter most of the time.
When words are meaningless I guess you can say anything.
The worst part of GOOP
GOOP never uses their amazing clout to advocate for abortion rights or to provide factual information about contraception, a glaring deficit for a supposedly feminist site.
One of the most troubling things is GOOP actually has a few decent posts, interestingly none appear to be linked with product. When fiction and fact are presented side by side how can a reader know which is which?
What if I provided you with both factual and false information about how to fly a plane and then asked you to make real time aeronautical decisions mid flight based on what you read? Later on after you land (assuming you do) what if I told you most of the incorrect information was sourced from people who profit from your wrong decision. How does that flight plan sound to you?
Because that’s GOOP, just with your health.
Even when GOOP’s “trusted experts” manage some decent advice, they can still be vectors of misinformation. Page clicks on your own site are a natural (and I suspect hoped for) consequence of appearing on goop.com or on the goopy podcast. For example, recently GOOP featured Dr. Josh Axe on their goopcast as well as online. He is a naturopath and keto-curious! Kewl! What else does Dr. Axe think? Let’s go to his website and check it out!
Oh hey. he thinks chlamydia can be treated with goldenseal, echinacea, garlic, oil of oregano, and probiotics!
I recently told The Cut that I’m asked regularly about vaginal garlic. Women don’t just stuff random vegetable matter up their vaginas, they actually get this information online from sites exactly like this.
For me, GOOP is patriarchy wrapped up with a pink, bespoke, ethically sourced, healing stone blessed, turmeric infused, hemp ribbon in an attempt to market it as California chic wellnisim (wellness + feminism). They present lies and misinformation about how our bodies work and sell expensive and either useless or potentially harmful products (for example, their supplements and jade eggs) as a path to achieving wellnism. There are some facts along for the ride so they can always claim to “respect” science.
GOOP also exploits the fact that women — likely because of the pressures of a patriarchal society — feel they need excuses to do something nice for themselves. If you like a $400 hyaluronic acid face serum in a pretty bottle from GOOP that has no proof it’s superior to an almost identical $9 product from Trader Joe’s that’s cool. Some people like fancy face creams and serums. I like to spend my money on expensive shoes, but I don’t kid myself that my $350 Fluevogs get me to work any faster than my $10 shoes from Target. My expensive shoes are also not sold with any suggestion of a health benefit.
My brand, if I have one, is authenticity and facts. It’s informed choice, not misinformation and fear. And eating apricots whenever the fuck I want.
GOOP masquerades as feminism to capitalize on the gaps created by a patriarchal society and medical system.
It’s the worst form of capitalism.