FLUIDS. PERIODS. BODIES. HORMONES. BIRTH. CYCLES. SEX.
This Sunday Good Clean Love will join many other influential brands and speakers to talk about just that. Big and bold, these are the call to action words for New York’s first reproductive ‘happening’: Cycles and Sex. (Otherwise written as CYCLES +SEX.) What makes this event unique? Who organized it? Why do we need a million more like it? I sat down to speak with the creators, Natalia Hailes and Ashley Spivak, to get the scoop.
Natalia and Ashley are full time birth doulas; or trained professionals who provide physical, emotional, and informational support throughout a pregnancy. The word ‘doula’ (pronounced ‘doo-la’) is a Greek word which means caregiver. It’s an appropriate title… Breastfeeding support, childbirth education, labor training, nutrition, stress reduction, prenatal yoga, postpartum meetings — they do it all.
While looking into their services a term that came up a lot was “urban parenting”. I started to wonder if this whole doula business was just a trendy New York thing. I know my mom definitely didn’t have any professional on call to lead guided meditation or construct nutrition plans. Though after talking to Ashley and Natalia, I’m starting to think she should of had. Or at least, some sort of support beyond doctors.
Why? Yes, modern medicine has made pregnancy safer than ever before. Yet many women will attest to feeling a disconnect when it comes to their reproductive health, something Natalia and Ashley attribute to a largely male-dominated medical environment. “Women supporting other women [with birth] has been around since the beginning of time,” Ashley declares before explaining that this key experience has been greatly diminished in our culture as doulas were replaced with male physicians and home births replaced by hospitals.
While not everyone wants a home birth or a doula, Natalia and Ashley are touching on something much larger here: bodily autonomy. Lack of education, miseducation, shame, control, these are all things that have contributed to a greater sense of removal that female-bodied people experience. It’s not just specific to pregnancy either, the movement to reclaim and love our bodies is trending everywhere. Period positivity, “Cliteracy”, Self-Gynecology, gender nonconformity are just a few examples. As the Cycles and Sex website says: “The time is now to activate, innovate and educate people and their bodies.”
What Natalia and Ashley have done is create a space centered around education, empowerment, female reproductive health and community where people can learn about their bodies firsthand. For the first time the reproductive health dialogue which spans nonprofits, educators, artists, retailers, activists, and you (!) will be united under one roof.
Their hope as organizers is that this “happening” will have a lasting effect, serving as conversation starter rather than definitive answer. The takeaway? We need to be and CAN be active participants in our own health and learn to love your body the way it is. “YOUR WAY IS THE ONLY RIGHT WAY. YOU ARE BRILLIANT.”
To learn more about Natalia and Ashley’s Brilliant Bodies project, visit their website here.
Going to Cycles + Sex? Great! Don’t miss our talk “Taking Care of Your Parts” at the GCL Booth (3:00-3:15 & 5:45 – 6:00)
Did you know Cycles +Sex marketplace vendors are paired with local nonprofits? Support Good Clean Love’s nonprofit partner, Callen Lorde, a LGBT+ friendly community health center in NYC.
We were all born. Let’s talk about it. Join the #thisishowIwasborn movement.