By Julia Goldberg
In case you were wondering, you shouldn't put lemon, yogurt or garlic in your vagina.
That's according to Dr. Jen Gunter, a Californian obstetrician-gynecologist, who is best known as "Twitter's gynecologist" a moniker she earned by using that platform along with her own blog and her New York Times column, to advocate for women and their health and to call BS on the proliferation of questionable advice about women's health on the internet.
The "Bad Goop Advice" category on Gunter's blog includes more than two dozen posts such as, "GOOP posts dangerous, bullshit article on heavy metals," "161 of GOOP's wellness products for pseudoscience," and the piece that helped rocket Gunter to gyno/rock star status: "Dear Gwyneth Paltrow, I'm a GYN and your vaginal jade eggs are a bad idea."
Her book, The Vagina Bible: the Vulva and the Vagina—Separating the Myth from the Medicine, publishes in August, and was written, Gunter says, with everyone on the planet in mind. "Because I think people who don't have vaginas need to know about it too. Even if you're two gay dads, you might have a daughter, so you should know about it. The more people know, the more everyone can extend their privilege and fight mythology."
Gunter will be speaking at this year's TechFest NW about the emergence of Health Tech and the dubious claims that some companies make.
Whether it's taking on the Kardashian's useless beauty supplements or providing helpful advice for women who have pelvic pain during gynecological exams, Gunter's unifying principal is that it is "all an extension of feminism."
Approximately a year ago, she says, "I decided every piece of information I received about a woman, I would think, 'how does that benefit the patriarchy?' I would look at it through those eyes. It's like a red pill: Once you've done it, you can't see it in any other way."
Gunter says at some point she just reached a boiling point toward people and industries taking advantage of women's lack of information in order to profit. The "wellness industrial complex," Gunter maintains, hawks fear, frequently interfacing with various medical conspiracy theory camps—from anti-vaccination to anti-fluoride—to sell their products.
"I despise people who profiteer," says Gunter, who is as funny as she is acerbic. "taking advantage of vulnerable people is horrible…I'm sure people do it in real estate or other fields and everyone is vulnerable, but in medicine, especially when you're talking about private parts, you're uniquely vulnerable. Women have been subjected to misinformation about their bodies since the beginning of time, and especially to see people preying on that and to see them to couch it as feminism…" Gunter trails off before adding: "Not on my watch," adding that the image she keeps in her head is that of Gandalf standing before Balrag in Lord of the Rings saying, "You Shall Not Pass!"
Whether it's standing up to the wellness industrial complex or any other organized effort that hurts women, she says, she just decided that "somebody has to lead the charge. So, I feel if people are listening to me, then it's my ethical duty to do that." And she understands that "we've all had bad information online. My ire is always at the people profiteering off it and never the victims. I have so much compassion for people who fall down the rabbit hole."