Erica's Thoughts on Goop's Latest Project
Hello everyone! My name is Erica (she/her) and this is my first post on the Traveling Tickle Trunk blog. While I may be a stranger on this platform, I will be writing about a topic that is all too familiar: Gwyneth Paltrow and her wellness company, Goop.
In this post, we will be discussing her latest Netflix series, “Sex, Love, and Goop.” While some sources are saying this is her “best work yet”, I disagree. Beyond a couple validating, normalizing, thoughtful moments, this series was completely off base, was not an appropriate representation of sex therapy, and seemed to be a walking advertisement for the featured “experts” (mostly white women with culturally appropriated names and practices). I am not sure if it deserves to be called her best work just because it isn’t currently facing a lawsuit (re: jade eggs and vaginal steaming).
As you can gather, I would not recommend this show for anything beyond entertainment purposes. Although the disclaimer at the beginning of the show says it is for “entertainment and informational purposes only” (confusing), please do not watch this show to gather any information and please do not get your sexuality information from celebrities with minimal (read: zero) background in the field.
The series features 5 couples who are experiencing very valid, very real issues within their relationships stemming from desire mismatch, heteronormative ideas about what sex “should” be, lack of education, lingering religious beliefs, and so on. Each couple is paired with an “expert” who engages them in some form of “sex therapy” to help them through these concerns. The quotation marks indicate my skepticism of most of the experts and the validity of their work with a couple exceptions.
The first two episodes feature two couples that have a lot going on in their relationships with much to learn/unlearn. That’s okay, that’s why they are seeking out help! The first two experts who are featured on the show are Jaiya, somatic sexologist, and Michaela Boehm, Gwyneth’s friend and intimacy expert. I have very little positive remarks about these two “therapists”. From what I observed they were there to promote their work, they made many assumptions about the couples they were working with, they did not tailor their treatment to the specific needs of the couples, and they completely misrepresented what sex therapy is.
This manifested in Jaiya non-consensually touching one member of the couple while the other was also touching them, misrepresenting kink, misusing implements in a way that could be confusing and/or triggering, and more. Michaela assumed relational patterns and assigned heteronormative activities. I wondered, “how are these activities even helping this couple?!” It all felt so off base, like they knew what they wanted to display of their work on the series before even hearing the couple’s concerns.
The third episode had some redeeming factors. Practitioners Darshana Avila and Amina Peterson model consent with the couples they are working with and offer valuable insights through mirror work - an exercise in which you gaze upon your body and think about what you like/don’t like and critically think about where those beliefs come from. I heard many positive things in this episode such as non-gendered language and discussions about how sexual techniques are a teachable skill.
The fifth episode features Katarina “Kato” Wittich, a Family Constellations facilitator who aims to help a couple unlearn damaging relationship patterns that have been passed down from their ancestors. They introduce this work by saying it was taken from the Zulu people by a white missionary and it doesn’t get better from there. Brenda mentioned that this episode is unethical and should not have been in the series as it has not much to do with sex, and I agree.
I particularly dislike this series because it will influence many to people to think that is what sex therapy is like. Work like this done by people with no background will only serve to mislead and misinform. There are many talented, informed, evidence-based experts in the field of sexuality who could have been featured, but it is clear that the series was moulded to uphold the image Gwyneth is desiring for Goop. Even for the few redeeming moments in the show, I would not recommend “Sex, Love, and Goop” because I believe it does more harm than it does good.