Vaginas, Vulvas, and Orgasm

The Vulva is FINALLY having a Moment: The Scoop on Goop Episode 3, The Pleasure is Ours

VULVAS, rather the vaginas, are having their big day with the latest release of Goop Lab Episode 3, The Pleasure is Ours. I watched the Goop Lab on pleasure and had some thoughts, professionally, on this episode. 


Do not keep reading if you have not seen the show! 


Gwyneth Paltrow and her brand Goop have made waves for years with their promotion of alternative healing methods and ideology. Some, more compelling than others, but the The Pleasure is ours is Episode 3 unveils a variety of vulvas and touches on some real issues in pop culture around the vagina and pleasure. Let’s Undress this issue!! 


Issue 1: Popping the Hood! 

The vagina is only the canal babies travel through, in terms of pleasure, there is a heck of a lot more to explore down there. The labia, vulva, and clitoris have millions of nerve endings and stimulation leads to orgasm, far more often than penetration. Looking at your own vagina, what is the vulva, the clitoris, do you know? Does this make you feel uncomfortable? You are not alone. Many women feel uncomfortable looking at their lady bits and pop culture has ascribed certain traits to the way it is supposed to look. But you know what? We are fucking different! 


The Pleasure is Ours episode has an entire montage of vulvas glorifying their diversity. From large labia to color differences, your vulva is as different as your fingerprint. However, there is shame around this region. Why? A simple answer is patriarchy and pornography. The popularized vulva is dyed, snipped, and made to look prepubescent, satisfying only a select taste, and rarely seen in real life. Real women have folds and vulvas are a range of colors. 


Salvation, How do I get past the Shame? 

How to get past this shame? Start by repeating to yourself, Sex content is not fact based and the portrayal of the female anatomy is nothing short of body shaming. Body shaming is not all about being fat. The number of people who are uncomfortable with their genitals is astronomical and the upclose of the vulvas was a real departure instead showing vulvas as beautiful like snowflakes, is a celebration. The graphic and open portrayal is so important. For all women. Bravo Goop! 


Issue 2: Challenging Patriarchy and the Female Orgasm 

Our clinical understanding and published materials concerning female sexuality are largely conducted and published by middle age men. Does that make sense to anyone? This is yet another example of women’s studies being steeped in patriarchy and makes it unsurprising that the female orgasm and its’ depiction in porn is marginalized. Goop underscored this by offering testimony and examples of the rare occurrence of orgasm in porn. Unsurprisingly, most female orgasms in porn are accompanied by penetration and rarely a result of female participation. With the help of professionals, a participant in this episode experiences an orgasm, all on her own, with the help of a sexual aid. Ladies, we do not need men to get off, but when you consider this, then what do we need them for and what is your partner doing for you, and how? 


Sex is Never About Sex, So what is Pleasure FOR 

As a confident woman, unafraid of the orgasm, and willing to communicate your needs in the bedroom, your sexuality is all yours. What happens when you do not feel comfortable expressing your sexual desires or you feel your boundaries are not respected? Sex with a partner that does not respect boundaries or with whom you cannot communicate fully is not a consensual encounter and the resulting emotions and feeling resulting from sex can be traumatizing.  In the episode they assume that your partner is a willing participant and understanding of your needs. But what happens when women walk away unsatisfied or traumatized. This leads to a larger issue, what are your partners in for if they are not interested in your pleasure? Sex is never about sex. If they are not attending to your needs in sex, what else are they not investing in with your relationship? 


A Note for Women with Trauma and Their Bodies 

In the episode, they show women exploring their body and getting off, however there is a caveat in therapy which they did not take a deep enough dive into and that is the orgasm with trauma survivors. Safety in the space of sexuality is crucial for trauma survivors. A slight touch or sensation in the vulva, labia, and vagina can trigger powerful emotions, not always pleasant ones for survivors of sexual or emotional trauma. Even if you did not experience trauma physically or emotionally, the orgasm can be shameful and feel downright unpleasant, if the communication and circumstances surrounding the encounter are not consensual. If you feel that you struggle with this issue, please reach out and I am happy to counsel and recommend groups working through these issues locally in Los Angeles. 


All in All, well done Goop!!  Episode 3 The Pleasure is Ours brings to light some really important facts and issues in sexuality, pleasure, and shame that deserve our attention, and have been far too “dressed” in pop culture.

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