On Saturday night, I lucked into an impromptu visit with one of my favorite women. She’s a doula, educator, and the best Placenta Encapsulation Specialist in Chicagoland. I send all my placenta referrals to her, and sometimes after the babies are born, I’ll transport the organ to her home just so I can see her smiling face. Saturday was one of those days.
She invited me in for a drink and poured me a glass of heaven in a bottle: a lovely libation called Rum Chata. We were drinking and talking and somehow the topic of my blog name came up. I explained to her where the name came from and she said, “Now THAT is a story you should write about!” And so here goes…
I began a primitive form of blogging on Myspace way back in 2004. I shared updates on my life and rants about political topics. But my page was very private (much as my personal facebook page is now) so only my friends saw those posts. None of those friends were having babies or experiencing the same life changes I was going through, so to connect with folks outside my personal sphere, I sought out relevant message boards.
While I became pregnant with Jules in 2007, I hung around a few iVillage boards: one made up of moms due the same month as I was and the other a “feminist” board. The tone of these two boards were like night and day, and no matter how I tried, I couldn’t fit in with either one. In general, the women on the “due date” club thought I was nuts for wanting a VBAC and asked me why I would be so selfish. Many hated my lactivism and liberal politics. One day, a woman came to the board ranting about abortion and she was absolutely shocked to find that some of us mothers were Pro-Choice. I’ll never forget it, she said, “But we’re all mothers here! I assumed we’d ALL be Pro-Life!” Awhile later, one mother posted a thread called, “You had ’em, you raise ’em” in which she said that no one should have children if they planned to put them in daycare. (She was also a Canadian mother with a year of paid maternity leave to stay home with her kids.) I began irritating people with my big mouth, so much that the moderator of the board eventually kicked me off. (Interesting note, that moderator frequently posts on my TFB facebook page now and once invited me to meet her for coffee. I did not accept.)
You’d think I’d fit in better on the feminist board, but no. That board was filled with the biggest bunch of mother-haters I’ve ever seen. When I talked about the mistreatment during my birth and my resulting PTSD, they told me it was my fault for having kids. They didn’t think women should have the right to pump at work because, according to them, if you decided to have kids and work, you should suffer the consequences of any discrimination that comes your way. When Sophie Currier sued The National Board of Medical Examiners for not allowing her time to pump milk during her medical exam, the feminists on that board said, “If you decide to have a baby, you can wait to be a doctor.” I was FLOORED. They hated that I stood for paid parental leave and thought it was “lazy” and “entitled” to think you should be given time off work to recuperate after having a kid.
In fact, I couldn’t find a single person who held the same belief system I did and it began to feel like being a mother and a feminist were incompatible.
I simply wanted someone who:
- Had kids/Wanted Kids
- Was Pro-Choice from pre-pregnancy through the postpartum period
- Cared about how they were treated during birth
- Cared about whether the system supported their breastfeeding efforts
- Felt parents and babies deserve paid parental leave after birth
- Supported parents to stay home, work outside the home, and everything in between
- Didn’t mind calling themselves a “Feminist”
Since I couldn’t find anyone who fit all those criteria, I started to believe I was the only one in the world who thought about these things. It seemed that feminism and mothering were mutually exclusive terms to most people.
It was around that time that I began to discover that real blogging sites existed (as in, not on Myspace.) I found my first “mom” blogger through her podcast on iTunes and laughed my ass off at her irreverence. Our politics didn’t align much at all, but knowing her site existed inspired me to start my own public blog.
I just needed a name…
I knew I wanted the name of my blog to reflect my perceived loneliness in the mothering world. I had been calling myself a “Breeder” since I fell pregnant, which was both a nod to the band “The Breeders” and also a word that I found funny in an inappropriate sort of way. I wrote songs with that word and knew that it possessed a certain sardonic effect, but I also wanted to reclaim it as a positive, “fuck you, I’m still awesome” sort of term.
After so many irritating threads on the iVillage feminist board and months of feeling completely isolated in my “due date” club, I realized exactly how I differed from all those people. I was the lone feminist breeder. And I needed to blog about my feelings because message boards full of other types of people just couldn’t tolerate my seemingly contradictory belief system.
So I named my new blog The Feminist Breeder because I truly thought I was the only one that existed. In my mind, it almost served as a warning to passersby: “Careful! She likes babies AND feminism! She’s going to piss you off!”
But I honestly never thought anyone would come here. Why would they? Who was I? I was a freak in the feminist community and ostracized from the moms’ board. This was supposed to be my safe place to say all the things that no one would tolerate elsewhere on the web. I didn’t think anyone would agree with me.
And then something strange happened. People found my page and said, “I’m a feminist breeder, too!” That name, which I thought would serve as a warning and turn so many people off, instead attracted certain people like moths to a flame. As it turns out, a few people were just waiting for those words to be combined.
And then came the groundswell and more and more people gathered ’round until one day I realized there are a lot of us who feel the same way. Many women believe you can respect a woman’s right to do what she wants with her own body while also fully supporting her right to become a mother. Lots of families know that paid maternity leave works and is fiscally responsible. Many feminists will fight for a woman to pump breastmilk at work or during a medical exam. We aren’t freaks — we are the future.
That is the story that interested my doula friend so much. That’s what she wanted to share with my readers. That’s the story of how I went from being fed up to The Feminist Breeder.