Just in time for the landmark debut of The Handmaid’s Tale, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s tale starring Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss and Orange Is the New Black’s Samira Wiley, American women are edging closer to chattel status than any time since their enfranchisement, or at least, since the 1950’s. The Vice President-Elect has pledged to consign Roe v. Wade to the “ash heap of history”; the presumptive Secretary of Education believes that that every public school student should receive a 20 percent off coupon to the private Christian home school of their choice, so you can guess how she feels about comprehensive and accurate sex ed.; and recently, Iowa Representative Steve King, a Punch marionette retired by his puppeteer after one of his ritualistic and increasingly savage beatings of Judy frightened the children, introduced a bill in the House calling for a federal ban on all abortion at 6 weeks, i.e. before most women even realize they are pregnant, at which point science has allowed us to often detect a faint embryonic heartbeat.
But don’t worry, ladies! You’ll still have some choices about your bodies! For example, you can decide whether or not to shove egg-shaped pieces of jade in your vagina, an “ancient” practice recently endorsed by none other than our own Jewish cervical maven Gwyneth Paltrow! The eggs, which are now sold out on Paltrow’s website GOOP, retail for $66 and are purported to stimulate the yoni, which is probably the name of the IDF soldier you made out with on your teen tour of Israel but also means “womb” and sometimes “vulva” in Sanskrit. (The rose quartz eggs sell for $55; both are made Shiva Rose, an actress but not a doctor, although she is ex-wife of Dylan McDermott). These eggs will supposedly “increase chi, orgasms, vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance, and feminine energy in general,” which, in less sophisticated parlance, I believe is known as “keeping it tight.” Unfortunately—because God forbid women should get to put one thing inside themselves without triggering an Internet debate—actual board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Jen Gunter, an increasingly fierce and crucial voice for women’s health and reproductive choice in the online realm—thinks this might not be such a good idea. On her blog, Gunter writes:
I read the post on GOOP and all I can tell you is it is the biggest load of garbage I have read on your site since vaginal steaming. It’s even worse than claiming bras cause cancer. But hey, you aren’t one to let facts get in the way of profiting from snake oil….My issue begins with the very start of your post on jade eggs specifically that “queens and concubines used them to stay in shape for emperors.” Nothing says female empowerment more than the only reason to do this is for your man! And then the claim that they can balance hormones is, quite simply, biologically impossible…. As for the recommendation that women sleep with a jade egg in their vaginas I would like to point out that jade is porous which could allow bacteria to get inside and so the egg could act like a fomite. This is not good, in case you were wondering. It could be a risk factor for bacterial vaginosis or even the potentially deadly toxic shock syndrome.
Fair enough! But look, if you do get toxic shock syndrome, you might die, which means you can’t have an unplanned pregnancy that you’re forced to carry to term! I mean sure, a jade egg is nothing compared to a safely inserted IUD that your health insurance is required to cover, but it’s something, right? Who says women have no choices in Trump’s America?
More terrifying is how a bunch of new-age mumbo jumbo about “feminine energy” seems increasingly like what will pass for actual medical knowledge in the terrifying years to come, like the “fake news” of reproductive/vaginal health. Whether you’re a bored housewife in Brentwood ordering fancy and vaguely exotic things online, or a fundamentalist Christian (hi again, Mike Pence!) talking about how working mothers “stunt the emotional growth” of their children, the idea that there is something fundamentally different about being a woman—a “feminine mystique,” if you’ll allow me to quote from a soon-to-be banned, if not burned book—is just as destructive. Our bodies may be different, but our brains, our ambitions, our needs, our intelligence, fundamentally, are not. Maybe when Gwyneth pledges to donate the proceeds of every vagina egg sold to Planned Parenthood, I’ll feel differently. Until then, it’s just the same crap in more tasteful package.