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A gynecologist blasted Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop — and now some doctors and feminists are going after her

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Dr. Jennifer Gunter, a prominent gynecologist and feminist known for writing about women’s health, has been a vehement critic of Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand Goop — and her frequent attacks on Goop have enhanced her online presence. But journalist Emily Shugerman, in an article for the Daily Beast this week, reports that going after Goop has resulted in some fellow feminists, fellow doctors and science writers going after her.

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Gunter, Shugerman explains, has “parlayed her skepticism into a highly successful personal brand, amassing more than 267,000 Twitter followers, a TV show and a New York Times column. Fans are drawn to her no-nonsense attitude and quick wit, which she uses to condemn everything from abortion bans to natural tampons.”

Shugerman adds, however, that Gunter now finds herself under attack from critics.

“In recent weeks,” Shugerman reports, “Gunter has taken flak from her fellow physicians and feminists. On Twitter and Facebook — and in the respected journal Scientific American — peers criticized her for ‘bullying’ women and ‘gaslighting’ survivors of sexual abuse. Critics wanted to know why she was so skeptical of alternative medicine and so dismissive of the women who used it. The anti-anti-Goop backlash had begun.”

Shugerman notes that Gunter has been butting heads with the feminist nonprofit Our Bodies, Ourselves, which produced the 1970 book of the same name: Gunter, in interviews promoting her book, “The Vagina Bible,” asserted that Our Bodies, Ourselves had promoted some misinformation on women’s health. Gunter told WBUR, “We (now) know a lot more about the clitoris, and other structures, and about sexually transmitted infections than we did then — and I thought women needed a physician to write a book for them.”

Judy Norsigian, who co-founded Our Bodies Ourselves, told The Daily Beast that she has received an abundance of messages from supporters who took exception to Gunter’s comments — and Norsigian, along with Our Bodies, Ourselves’ Kiki Zeldes, wrote an open letter to Gunter stressing the 1970s book’s credentials.

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But Gunter told the Daily Beast that her intention was never to slam or condemn the 49-year-old book but rather, to offer some constructive criticism and show “how there can be misinformation along with good information.”

One of Gunter’s biggest criticisms of Goop has had to do with vaginal eggs. And Shugerman notes that Dr. Jennifer Lang, a California-based OB-GYN, defended the jade egg in an open letter to Gunter in September.

Lang wrote, “I’m a GYN, and when I can remember to do my jade egg practice for more than a few nights in a row, I begin orgasming in my sleep.” And Lang criticized Gunter for showing a “lack of humility,” especially when it comes to alternative medicine.

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Jennifer Block, a science writer, wrote an op-ed for Scientific American that was headlined “Doctors Are Not Gods” and was highly critical of Gunter. The op-ed, Shugerman explains, “provided the longest and most in-depth critique of Gunter’s work, drawing on the history of groups like Our Bodies, Ourselves to explain how women taking control of their own health — and occasionally rebuffing their doctors — can be a feminist act.”

Gunter and others have criticized Goop for promoting vaginal steaming, but Block defended the practice — asserting, “There are, anecdotally, many women healing from sexual violence and cancer treatments, who find that steaming helped them regain sensation. Are you really going to argue with them? Isn’t that called gaslighting?”

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Debates over Gunter’s work and her criticisms of Goop, Shugerman writes, underscore a larger debate within feminism itself.

“It would be easy to chalk up the criticism of Gunter to a fight between female physicians or even the inevitable milkshake-ducking of any internet celebrity,” Shugerman writes. “But the controversy over Gunter’s work illustrates a larger debate in modern feminism: one about exactly what role the medical system should have in women’s health.”


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