Friday, 29 May 2020

The Goop Lab - "The Pleasure is Ours"

With this whole lockdown business, you'd think I'd have plenty more time for Netflixing. But what with work and writing and my new found talent for daytime napping, I haven't been spending much time at all watching television.

However, I have been enjoying Gwyneth Paltrow's 'Goop Lab' series. Is 'enjoy' even the right word? It's a laughably earnest exploration into the sort of woo bollocks that she has been espousing for a few years on her Goop website.  Never one to let the opportunity to straight-facedly investigate some new age pseudoscience, Paltrow's Goop Lab has featured energy healing, parapsychology and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.


The Goop staff go out and about on what are basically very strange team-building away days. I once had to go to a company event where we had to run an obstacle course up and down hill lifting heavy tyres as we went. I cried afterwards because while I have a level of fitness which allows me to sit at a computer and occasionally carry files around, it really wasn't sufficient for that sort of thing. Given the choice though, I might elect to do that again, rather than do what Paltrow's staff had to do and get semi-naked, take drugs or explore my innermost self with my co-workers.

Every episode, the Goop staff sing the praises of whatever weird-arse activity they've just undertaken. They kind of have to though, don't they. They're at work. You're hardly going to tell the boss that you hated every minute of something you did on work time.

Best day ever. Honest, Boss.
I am going to talk about the episode entitled "The Pleasure is Ours" - an exploration into female pleasure. The Joys of Lady Wanking is one of my areas of particular interest, you know.

The show features a couple of Sexuality coaches. One of them, Isabella Frappier, is a lovely, floofy, ethereal, Aquarian sort of counsellor that you would expect to find on a programme like this.

Then there is Betty Dodson.


I have completely fallen in love with Betty Dodson and want her to be my new best friend. She's a straight-talking vulva-promoting ninety year old woman who has been running solo-sex workshops since the 1970s.

Dodson and her business partner and heir-apparent Carlin Ross are fun, frank and informative. It's like they have wandered onto the wrong show. Although, I can see why Dodson would leap at the opportunity to bring her knowledge and experience to a wider, more mainstream audience. Demystifying women's genitalia is literally her life's work.

We see clips of Dodson's Bodysex workshop in action. Although in this case, none of the Goop staff are directly involved. (Apparently getting naked and sitting cross-legged in front of a group of women before pleasuring yourself was too much even for a Goop Office Away Day.)

The full demonstration of the Dodson method is left to Ross, who gamely explores her vulva in front of a mirror (and a film camera). The first half of the programme coyly skirts around showing any actual lady bits. Boobs and bums and thighs are caught on camera but mounds and labias are discreetly obscured.

Then, starting with Ross's own, there are full-on vulvas in abundance and it's great. Dodson is adamant that you can't just show one vulva because then it would appear that that particular one is the norm. You need to show as many as possibly in order to show the rich diversity of shapes, designs and colours that are both perfectly normal and utterly beautiful and deserving of celebration. So that's what happens.

I checked Dodson and Ross's website and Bodysex workshops are, understandably not running in their normal format at the moment. You can book a virtual workshop for $500 which sadly puts it out of my price range. I would urge you to check out that link anyway though. It's wonderfully informative and provides a selection of line drawings on different designs of vulva. Who knew that they could be categorised as "Baroque", "Classical" or "Gothic"? Well, not me, until now.

Mine's more of an 'Art Deco' vulva, apparently.
Dodson recommends the 'Rock 'n' Roll' orgasm technique. This involves rocking your pelvis forward toward your belly button and squeezing your pelvic floor muscles then relaxing and rolling your pelvis back to the ground. I haven't actually tried this yet but I will do and if you're really lucky I might report back on here.

The orgasm is where the programme naturally, well, climaxes. Under Dodson's guidance and with the help of a wand and vaginal stimulator,  Carlin Ross brings herself off on camera. And a jolly nice time she seems to have of it too.

So for all my snidey comments about the series and Gwenyth Paltrow's goopy credulousness, I found 'The Pleasure is Ours' to be a genuinely uplifting programme. Anything which promotes self-love and women embracing their bodies is OK with me.

Yay for masturbation! It's great isn't it? And if the fabulous and astonishingly youthful (there is no way she looks like a woman born in the 1930s) Betty Dodson is anything to go by, then it is clearly very good for you indeed.

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