Health 02 January 2019
Vicki Cowart, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Angela Wells, Founder & CEO of Vibrant sat down with SWAAY to talk sex, pleasure, and how this partnership will help millions. “Sex isn't very pleasurable if women don't have access to affordable birth control," Wells begins. “Vibrant offers a new way to support the organization while also supporting one's own pleasure and sexual empowerment." Wells is right! Without birth control and reproductive services, many women are left worrying about risks like unintended pregnancies.
Angela Wells photographed with a customer. Photo Courtesy of Ella Hansen.
For those who don't know, Planned Parenthood, is a nonprofit organization that has always been known for providing reproductive health services and sexual education. This organization is continuously researching and educating to emphasize the necessity of topics like proper health and reproductive rights. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is one of many health centers serving around 100,000 women, men and teens yearly within their region - Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming. For a majority of patients in that area, this is their only access to affordable resources and health care. Vibrant, a sex toy e-tailer was created by and for the Planned Parenthood organization to raise funds.
WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION COME FROM TO SELL SEX TOYS?
“It was a bold idea," Wells momentarily laughs. “We saw a need inside the industry [because] not a lot of consumers in the U.S. [know] that the sex toy industry is not regulated, meaning manufacturers can make products with materials that are really dangerous and toxic for our bodies." Wells explains that the toys that aren't regulated may contain materials that are banned from everyday items like water bottles and kids toys. It can inevitably disrupt hormones, bring on infections, irritations and can sometimes even cause cancer. “We really felt that Planned Parenthood was a place for us to share our voice and our shared values," she goes on.
Vibrant not only sells inclusive sex toys, but also books, condoms, lubes and other necessities when it comes to having a healthy, safe sex life. Both women shared their positive views on sex, sexual health and providing care and information to their patients. From the start, Wells and Cowart emphasize this partnership felt right. “Sexual health is so important to every person that's walking on this planet," Wells comments. “It's a way for us to continue [creating] a healthy society with this direct correlation to Planned Parenthood."
THE PROBLEM - HEALTH CARE COVERAGE
“Having a company and partner like Vibrant is critical to our future," Cowart exclaims. “We believe that all of us in the health and wellness space can spread the word that pleasure is a fundamental component to healthy sexuality." With this partnership, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Vibrant are aiming to make birth control accessible and make sex for women safe, pleasurable and enjoyable. Any contributions will bring in support, resources and money, which enable Planned Parenthood to extend what they're doing and provide more resources for the people they serve. “There are so many impediments put in front of women who are trying to access the full range of reproductive health care," Cowart shares. “Having a partner like Vibrant is extending our mission."
“A really significant portion of our work is covered by private donations and that's why Vibrant is very important," Cowart shares.
Just last month, the midterm elections concluded that the most important issue for voters was healthcare. The very next day, President Trump's administration took direct aim at birth control and abortion. The new regulations would allow any employer or university to refuse coverage of birth control. It also affects abortion coverage under the Affordable Care Act. “We saw the voters, particularly Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada stand up and really talk, really say to elected officials that reproductive health is important and rights is important," Cowart expresses. “Even in the moment of celebrating changes in this election, we are still faced with an administration that doesn't want women to have full access to birth control and the full speed of reproductive health care like abortion."
Both Cowart and Wells bring on a serious tone to the conversation. Cowart, in particular, shares her concerns in relation to Planned Parenthood. “[This is] negatively impacting our patients; fifty-five million women have access to free birth control either through their primary insurance or through Medicaid." Not only will women lose their ability to have coverage of these necessities, but also more women will be in need of help. Clare Coleman, President and CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said in a statement reported by CNN that this ruling “could leave millions of women without access to birth control and reverse some of the important health progress made under the Affordable Care Act in recent years." Since then, citizens across the country are uniting to fight against these new regulations.
THE IMPACT OF VIBRANT & PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS
Both organizations hope to normalize the conversation of sex, sexuality and sexual health. “Women are truly able to take care of themselves, be healthy, have a healthy sexual relationship," Cowart says. Vibrant's website in particular removes shame and stigma and promotes inclusivity. “We don't say toys for men [or] toys for women," she beings. “We say 'for me', 'for us', 'for the mind' because toys are not gendered.
“They're designed to stimulate different parts of the body. It's up to the consumer to determine what gender they might identify with, even if they don't identify with a gender at all. It creates that warm and welcoming environment that people receive inside of a Planned Parenthood health center and online as well.
In 2018, 30% of revenue for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains comes from private donations that vary from individuals, corporations to foundations. In the Rocky Mountain region, the facilities do not receive public funding from states. “A really significant portion of our work is covered by private donations and that's why Vibrant is very important," Cowart shares.
“Sex isn't very pleasurable if women don't have access to affordable birth control," Wells begins. “Vibrant offers a new way to support the organization while also supporting one's own pleasure and sexual empowerment."
WHERE CAN YOU PURCHASE THESE SEX TOYS AND LEARN MORE?
Buying a sex toy is one of many ways to help fund the Rocky Mountain region. Those living in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming can find printed materials about Vibrant in most health centers. “We also do a lot of events, [like] pop up shops, in the western part of the U.S." Wells tells us. “We answer questions and let people see some of the products up close and personal." If you are looking to buy a sex toy in support of Planned Parenthood free from stigma and judgment, or simply browse through the many blogs, guides and FAQs, visit their website. This amazing, sex positive company can also be found on Instagram.
Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!
You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!
Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.
Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.
One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:
What worked? What were my successes?
Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?
Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.
If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?
Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?
Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?
Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.
While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.
Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!