An alternative narrative

So we might as well read that open letter to Jen Gunter by Jennifer Lang.

There is nothing the patriarchy likes to see more than a good cat-fight. I read your open letter to Ms Paltrow when it was published in 2017, and at the time found it very unfortunate. I, too, struggled with whether it was worth my time or mental energy making a public response as urgent social, environmental and political events piled up around us. I decided to classify your letter as yet one more public beat-down of a female voice offering an alternative narrative to the monopoly-on-truth claimed by the western medical model. I ignored it. However, the publication of your new book and in particular the Guardian Interview article I read this morning have goaded me into a response.

First, I’ll say that I have no interest in participating in a take-down of any woman, least of all a single mom with medically-challenged kids who (I truly believe) is trying to help. This f***ed up patriarchal world does enough of that every single day. I celebrate strong female voices, professional success, and especially doctors who have found ways to bring in alternative revenue streams as insurance company reimbursements decline by double-digits annually. That being said, the condescending tone and overall arrogance of the stance you take on these issues is, in my opinion, the precise reason why so many women are moving away from allopathic medicine and seeking alternative or complementary care and sources of information.

I find in your words a callous blanket dismissal of the lived and felt experience of women, justified by the claim that you are an “expert.” What I do not encounter in anything you have written or been quoted as saying in an interview, is a genuine humility regarding our understanding of the complexities of the human body, nor an acknowledgment that the dominant medical advice of the moment has often been subsequently proven erroneous. I do not hear or see any responsibility-taking for the well-documented and very serious harms that have resulted from women unquestioningly following the advice of experts like ourselves prescribing pharmaceuticals and surgical interventions.

In other words Gunter doesn’t frame her criticism of the exploitative, expensive bullshit of Goop within apologies for the mistakes doctors have made in the past. But why should she? Why can’t she focus on Paltrow’s profitable scam which wouldn’t be so profitable if it weren’t marketed as “alternative” and “spiritual” and womany? Personally, I find Lang’s invocation of “lived and felt experience of women” far more annoying than anything Gunter says. Why can’t Lang do her thing and let Gunter do hers?

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