At first blush, the new section of goop.com that’s devoted to men is at once neurotic-making and distractingly sparkly: a psychotherapy session in a disco. But on further inspection, Goop for Men reveals itself as nothing short of a gross act of gender bias: time after time, it leaves us gentlemen out in the cold.
Where, for instance, is the male equivalent of Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow’s practice of suspending herself, sans underwear, over mugwort for genital steaming? Are we men wholly unsteamable, Gwyneth? Surely men, so preoccupied with the size of their manhood in relation to other manhoods in the neighborhood, might benefit from some kind of elaborate, mugwort-adjacent activity, this one perhaps also comprising gentle stretching and a strong, metal clamp.
Are we men wholly unsteamable, Gwyneth?
In these items’ stead, Goop for Men offers up a passel of dispatches from the murky land of self-care. Current or recent articles on the site include “What to Do About Low Testosterone,” “How to Have Difficult Conversations with Friends,” and “Understanding the Microbiome in Your Mouth”; there’s also a diverting and thoughtful podcast in which the chef Seamus Mullen and the “functional-medicine practitioner” Dr. Will Cole interview people who’ve made personal transformations. When you sign up for the Goop for Men’s newsletter, you receive a thank-you e-mail that runs: “We look forward to gooping your inbox”—which surely qualifies as the worst statement you can utter on a first date.
In years past, Paltrow and colleagues have been taken to task by the medical community and the media for fabricating syndromes and medical states—specifically, “postnatal depletion” and “adrenal fatigue.” However, such confections—as with coffee enemas and beesting therapy—have not made it from the woman-centric part of Goop over to the male-centric. Do men not merit their own fake syndromes? Are we not, in Goop’s eyes, complicated enough? It feels like we’ve arrived at Disneyland and been handed a pencil sketch of a Ferris wheel.
Stuff You Don’t Need and Can’t Afford
The aspect of the female-directed part of Goop that has transferred over to the men’s part, though, is the reigning ethos of Stuff You Don’t Need and Can’t Afford. Take, for instance, the article “The Gadgets and Tech You Need Right Now,” which includes a $79.95 device and phone app that vibrates when your spine starts to slump; a $28,900 float tank; and a $299 bracelet that will cool or heat the sensitive area around your wrist.
But isn’t the person who’s concerned about the temperature of his wrists also the kind of person who needs to constantly compare himself with others? In this light, the retail options on Goop for Men might also lead a male Goopster to feel “lesser than.” After all, remember Goop’s Holiday Gift Guide from last year, the one where you could buy a village in Spain ($172,910) or a balloon trip over Mount Everest ($5,950) or a breakfast in Nairobi with giraffes (price upon request)? Wrist care and beard oil seem, by comparison, fairly pantywaist.
If, in the Goop ethos, men are less prone than women to the grand gesture—less likely to buy a village, less likely to suspend their delicate bits over mugwort—they are no less neurotic and self-involved. They’re contemplating buying a $75 enzyme cleaner for their face because they’re concerned about their “glow”; they are not wincing at the sight of a $525 hoodie. By thusly reclaiming male narcissism, and by doing so at a time when our culture is rife with discussions of non-binaryism and its practicability, Goop for Men may be doing the world a favor. Now, at last, the average man can feel just as bad about his physical self as women have been made to feel for centuries. This might do much to redress the imbalance recently cited on Fleabag that women are born to live a life of physiological pain, while men must go out into the world and hunt their pain down. Success.
Cashmere Wrestling Singlets? Yes, Please
While we wait for this paradigm shift and its effects to trickle down into society, it seems like a propitious time to list some goods that we’d like to see Goop for Men sell in the near future, each a potential wellspring of advertorial.
- Sustainable, plant-based toupees
- Cashmere wrestling singlets, lined with sweat-reducing sachets of pulverized weevil and vermiculite
- Snake venom–based “plumpers” for pecs and screw-toppish foreheads
- Doll’s eyes, imported from Guatemala, that you can attach to your underarm hair to ward off inertia
- Tibetan-yak merkins and “wind socks,” to deactivate summer’s brutal campaign of scrotal cling
In the meantime, let us hope that the media and Goop for Men’s customers somehow alert the site’s editors and writers to that greatest of the Web site’s various oversights. I refer, of course, to that question which bedevils even the most successful and confident and self-actualized men, a question whose answer might provide oceans of solace and succor worldwide to enlightenment-seeking men and the women who love them. Namely, Where is the male yoni? We await your answer, Gwyneth. Yonilessly.
Henry Alford is the author, most recently, of And Then We Danced.