On February 3rd, the New York Times ran an ill-advised op-ed titled “Who’s Afraid of Gwinnett Paltrow and Goop?” By Elisa Albert and Jennifer Block. The article argued, in essence, that criticism of Goop is misogynistic because it stinks of historical trends in which science (read: men stuff) was deployed to destroy the legitimacy of midwifery and holistic treatments (read: women stuff). While that trend did indeed exist, and it still does, the attacks on Goop and its matriarch are not part of this pattern; to suggest that these situations are analogous legitimizes the hokum of Goop and puts more women in danger.
Here’s how Albert and Block make their argument. They start out by stating that “Yes, the rich, willowy blonde at Goop’s helm is an easy target.” This statement suggests that Paltrow is a target because she is a successful woman. That’s an absurd statement, because Paltrow and Goop are assailed based on the fact that the products peddled are outrageously expensive, make absurd claims about the results they deliver, and can be dangerous.
These products are not the same as their example of “kissing a boo-boo” because that simple act, which comforts a child without bringing any medical treatment to a cut or a scrape, is an act that is both free and harmless, assuming the parent kissing the boo-boo doesn’t have any open sores on his or her or their face.
The authors write: “criticism of Goop is founded, at least in part, upon deeply ingrained reserves of fear, loathing, and ignorance about things we cannot see, touch, authenticate, prove, or quantify.” Really? I’m not afraid of “G.Tox” that has “detoxifying superpower.” (Well, I am mildly afraid of the $60 price tag for 30 .05-ounce packets.)
It’s not fear that leads me to think this is ridiculous bullshit. It’s the fact that I, like the rest of humans who are alive, was born with a liver. The human body can detoxify itself. That is literally what the liver does. Bilking vulnerable people, who may or may not have the disposable income to afford these products, is borderline criminal behavior.
What crime, you ask? Fraud.
This same product, “G.Tox,” claims that milk thistle is “essential” for detoxifying your body of things such as alcohol. Yeah, but not really, because we have alcohol dehydrogenase for that.
The authors then compare the infamous “yoni egg” bullshit—you remember, when Goop urged women to put jade eggs up their vaginas—with the vaginal mesh and Essure tragedies. Both of those medical products had painful and sometimes fatal results for women. And, they note, that the jade eggs resulted in zero reports of “causing anybody harm.” But they could have, because jade is porous and therefore shoving a jade egg up your vagina for any length of time could have caused potentially fatal toxic shock syndrome.
All this is okay, though, because Goop offers people “heightened states of awareness and emotion,” at least according to the authors of this article.
The problem with this last view is that the products sold on Goop, especially the exorbitantly priced supplements, don’t offer “heightened awareness and emotion.” Rather, they offer tangible results.
Alex Jones, the fucknut who runs InfoWars, peddles similar snake oil on his website. He sells a small vial of liquid B12 for $50. And, like Gwyneth’s G.Tox, Alex Jones sells a product that “neutralizes the bad stuff in your body”….which sounds an awful lot like detoxing, right?
Is Goop good and InfoWars bad because Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t a right-wing, misogynistic wack job? Or, would the authors endorse Jones’s products? If not, Elisa Albert and Jennifer Block should reconsider their endorsement of the corrupt ways in which Goop encourages women to part with large quantities of their money.
Science—real science, that uses double-blind trials and insists upon replicating studies in order to confirm results—isn’t perfect. Someday people will look at chemotherapy and think it’s barbaric. Still, it’s the best treatment for cancer that we have right now. Science isn’t perfect and it isn’t as objective as some people would like to believe. But science relies on methodology and empirical evidence.
And by the way, there is nothing inherently “masculine” about the need for evidence. To suggest otherwise is to reify disgusting misogynistic stereotypes that associate female with emotion and male with rationality.