Sharing their reflections on watching the series Sex Love & goop: the founder of Kiss & Tell and two of its writers one with education in sex and the other a layman concerning the topic. We were surprised to learn we have similar yet varying thoughts about this Netflix series.
Our initial thoughts on Sex Love & Goop
Dr. Jenny– For me, watching the six episodes from a lens as a clinical sexologist was easy because I truly support all the content that was introduced and explored within the show. Even though I understand why Goop specifically Gwyneth Paltrow was on the show to get people to watch however to me it was more of a distraction than a helpful part of the show especially since she was not getting help in her personal bedroom.
Jay Watts- I admit I am a little biased because sex is my thing. I am a sexologist, my doctoral degree focuses on sex, and I grew up with a mother who was sex-positive. Sex. Sex. Sex. And still, as a Black Queer Woman, Affrilachian, and survivor, I was conditioned to think that sex was not for me. Sex was dangerous for me. Sex was codified in this space of both feared and desired, and my body and skin were codified in that same spirit. It caused me to enter an arduous journey of belonging as I grew into myself. It was with my excitement that Sex, Love & goop was introduced to Netflix to begin showing innovative practices in sexological work, but more importantly, it kicked off the first three episodes with a deep look into self. It provided an insight into understanding that sexuality is an integral part of our human experience, but it is interwoven with a complicated nature of social messaging that can impact our desires, pleasure, and connection.
Stephanie Hammond-So, let me start this off by disclosing that I don’t have a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), I am not a Clinical Sexologist, therapist, or anything along those lines. So why am I here reviewing Gwyneth Paltrow’s Sex, Love & goop series with the experts? The answer is simple, perspective. When it comes to sex, I am a dedicated lifelong learner with an open mind and willingness to ask questions—like a LOT of questions. Importantly, I am also willing to answer questions with honesty—and sometimes very red cheeks.
Favorite observations while watching the beginning of the series
Dr. Jenny– When the series started with Erika and Damon, I appreciated the honesty and vulnerability that they shared. I was reminded immediately that couples are often disconnected on the topic of sex, not because of choice rather it is typically due to the fact that no one truly teaches us how to communicate clearly about sex. Jaiya gracefully communicated this to viewers.
Jay-The first episode, A show about sex, introduces us to the couples that decided to take the audience on their intimacy journey. I applaud their vulnerability, because whew, it gets real! More specifically, it began a great look into the perceived mismatch of performative eroticism for Erika and Damon. I am sure many people can relate that sometimes, sex and intimacy are so informed by one’s narrowed experiences that it is hard to imagine anything different. Erika, a Black woman, and seemingly more reserved had difficulties connecting intimately with her partner Damon: who was seemingly more adventurous. The sexologist Jaiya worked her Blueprint magic to bring this couple into understanding that exploration and pleasure mapping is essential for learning how others experience passion. By the way, if you have not looked up Jaiya and her Blueprint model to intimacy, do it now! It allows for a greater understanding that others have their own way of being fulfilled, and that is totally okay! Learning each other’s blueprint allows for more powerful intimacy and connection.
Stephanie-I was also intrigued by the Somatic Sexologist, Jaiya, and the concept of the Erotic Blueprint. I enjoyed watching the couple learn new and surprising things about themselves that seem to have completely transformed their sexual relationship. I will definitely be doing some more research on the different types of orgasms and maybe pick up a toy or two! That being said, I’m not shy about these things, but I didn’t care too much for the energetic “demonstration” carried out by Jaiya and her partner.
Stephanie-When the series kicked off, I quickly picked up on three keywords that I was hearing over and over again; “nervous,” “vulnerable” and “disconnected.” I had the sense that every couple, every person, in that room felt disconnected, incomplete, and self-conscious, even self-sabotaging. I felt a great sense of empathy and even commiseration towards them.
Jay-Although I am focusing on Ericka & Damon for the first three episodes, I believe that some of the most powerful moments came from this couple. In the second episode, Damon experienced an energetic orgasm. I will say, as a Black woman, it was so powerful for me to see him so vulnerable. The tears were authentic, and Jaiya talking him through modeled a great way to consider how intimacy is so metaphysical. This was an emotional moment for me: a mark in a paradigm shift about pleasure achievement. Society has codified orgasm production from penetration, and the fact that this was recorded will hopefully start a new conversation about pleasure. It also provoked this realization in my own journey that, in the spirit of the great Adrienne Maree Brown (2019), “Pleasure is justice!” To be liberated from restraints of societal views of intimacy. To uncover the sensuality of intimacy. To not be fearful of your body and your joy. We witnessed that here, and although the elephant in the room, the intersection of race plays a powerful role in understanding how sex and intimacy are seen and experienced. I am so grateful for Ericka & Damon and the work of Jaiya.
All three of us loved Amina
Jay-Most people know, I am a big fan of Sexologist, Sex Doula, & Goddess Amina! Since I have found her and the Atlanta Institute of Tantra, my eyes have opened about the possibilities of sexing while Black, Queer, and in a state of belonging. Her presence, even digitally, has inspired me to always seek higher, to be unapologetic, to love in power, and to construct my own passion and purpose. So, when she contacted me about her involvement in this show, I cracked my knuckles, rolled up my sleeves, and said to myself, “Oh, this is going to be AMAZING!” The audience sees this immediately with her educating us on breath work with Joie and Mike, a couple in their 60s needing greater pleasure alignment. I mean, like Amina stated; why do we feel like we must breathe like porn stars? Who taught us that? It’s so true because as I look back on my early days of bumping and grinding, I was modeling what I have seen and not what I experienced. To further illustrate the power of self, Amina does amazing mirror work with Joie by modeling what it should be like. She dropped her body wrap and stood in the beautiful vulnerability of knowing that it is okay to be human, it is okay to have flaws, and it is so okay to acknowledge that even with these aspects, you are perfectly you!
Dr. Jenny-The moment that Amina undressed and stood there quite comfortable with herself in front of the mirror next to someone who barely knew her I knew everyone with body image struggles should watch this show.
Stephanie-As the team of professionals take the couples on a journey, they exhibited a nearly overwhelming amount of personal, sexual, and relationship growth that simultaneously inspired me and made me envious. As the therapists and practitioners work hands-on (quite literally in most cases) with these individuals, I often felt that I was on that journey with them. The number one moment for me was a little unexpected. Like many women, I have some frustrating body image insecurities. When intimacy coach Amina Peterson introduced and participated openly in Mirror Work, I cried. Yup. It was a little unexpected but that exercise is absolutely something that I will be taking with me.
Stephanie-When reflecting on the series, four key outcomes come to my mind:
- Freedom—this theme was referred to over and over again by the professionals, the couples participating, and even Gwyneth herself.
- Wholeness—it seemed to me that all of the participants walked away with a sense of personal and sexual wholeness.
- Self-acceptance and partner-acceptance—so many of the participants reported feeling more self-confident and closer to their loved ones. Despite being reassured by loved ones, it can take some work to feel comfortable in your own skin, and the participants seemed to have made a lot of progress in that realm. Look, relationships (typically) occur between two people, and it does not matter how long you have been together, or how well you think that you know your partner, you can’t possibly know everything. Sometimes we are not cognizant of how our behavior, well-intentioned or otherwise, impacts others and it is important to discuss those implications. You could be triggering a trauma without even knowing, and they may be avoidant when asked.
- SEX IS FUN!—this one is by far my favorite takeaway. Sex is about connection, fun, and pleasure—in my unprofessional opinion of course. Several therapists worked to drive home this “lesson of the day”—sex is fun and we should play!
Dr. Jenny-my two favorite statements said in the series were…I feel alive…I had an Orgasm! and It’s not about the Orgasm; It’s about all the pleasure felt during the intimacy. Obviously, these appear to be totally different statements and they are yet they share one common feeling…feeling pleasure!
I have heard a lot of positive reviews of the series, so why isn’t it Top 10 on Netflix?
Stephanie-I hate to say it, but I think that it is because when many people see/hear about Gwyneth Paltrow or goop and are immediately turned off. That can happen when you discuss vaginal steaming, vibrators, and other topics that may be considered non-traditional. Personally, I respect her, her brand, and the impactful work she has been doing in this space. I would absolutely recommend this series and I am hoping that they have the opportunity to produce another season. There is always something new to learn and explore! (I am re-watching the series with my husband.)
Dr. Jenny-I must admit I was resistant to watching the show because of the plethora of backlash Goop has received in the past for their previous Netflix series and several recommendations that were made.
Jay-I decided to approach the series with a blank slate. Sex, Love & Goop on Netflix humanize sex in a way that society may not realize it needs, but it does. If we are going to prioritize healing, loving authentically, and discovering our own joy, sex and intimacy should be a regular conversation. I am thankful for the couples and sexologists that showed us a glimpse of what it ought to be. So…take a deep breath…it’s just sex.
There were many other topics beautifully discussed in the series even though. We did not mention them in our reflections don’t let that deter you from viewing the series.
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