Friday, November 21, 2008

Sex and Birth: Fundraising with Astroglide

The idea that a fundraiser for a birthing center would be held in New York's infamous Toys in Babeland sex boutique actually makes perfect sense.

Consider the simple fact that you can't have one without the other* and that Toys in Babeland owners are ardent supporters of women's right to choose - in EVERY respect; the union makes even more sense.

Tuesday night's fundraiser, held in the store's Soho location on Mercer Street, was about announcing the launch of the New Space for Women's Health. Since Elizabeth Seton Childbearing Center closed its doors in 2003 there has been no free-standing birth center in Manhattan. This has been the mission behind the New Space, providing women with an alternative to a standard hospital birth. New Space is eagerly supported by women all over the tri-state area who are fans of birth alternatives.

This includes last night's guest stars and New Space committee members, Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake. The two collaborated on last year's controversial documentary, "The Business of Being Born" which focuses on home births in contrast to hospital-style medical births. As you might imagine, the film kicked up quite a storm, not just for the very poignant scene starring Ms. Lake birthing her second son in her own bathtub, but also for its argument that birthing at home is safe and preferable, in many cases.

Rebecca Benghiat, New Space's Exec Director, spoke eloquently about the need for providing women with empowering choices. Toys in Babeland co-owner, Claire Cavanah, spoke about her own disappointment with her C-section (due to a breech presentation) and her recognition that birth, for many women, is a rite of passage and profound event. She joked that you could substitute "sex" for "birth" in both their speeches and you'd get the same exact message: women taking authority over their bodies.

Most amusing to me were the faces of the few men in the room. This was an event packed with beautiful, vibrant women AND the hugest array of dildos, vibrators, strap-ons, and lubricants you could ever imagine. Even the wait-staff, passing delicious hors d'oeuvres, had to keep their eyes averted from the plethora of silicon phalluses.

Walking around meeting other women was thoroughly enjoyable and completely effortless; we all shared a similar bond and interest. I never realized before how women who are passionate about birth are equally passionate about sex in a similar way. The freedom to birth under your own terms, unencumbered by restrictions imposed upon you by faceless hospital bureaucracy is not that far from embracing your sexual prowess and nature. The women in that room were the same ones who take responsibility for their own orgasm as readily as they take on breastfeeding in public. The same strength that leads you into this sex shop to pick up a "Vix-skin" life-like dildo also allows you to nurse on the MTA (more or less).

Incidentally, I did receive a pocket vibrator in my gift bag along with an ergonomically designed sippy cup! Thereby proving my point: Sex and Birth - not so unseemly on the same page, after all.

* OKAY, excluding IVF

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