Placenta-Eaters Unite

Apparently New York hospitals are making everyone mad by not having consistent policies for new mothers who want to take their placentas home. Which, even though I think placenta-eating sounds absolutely disgusting (and I definitely do not want to see photos of it on Facebook), seems like something it’s fair to be a little annoyed about. To each their own, etc, and if you want to eat your placenta, ok! So long as there are no public health issues. Which it seems like there might be, in bringing home an organ? And so maybe it’s reasonable for hospitals to have some rules in place? But those rules should be consistent, and should balance the right to your own bodily waste(?) with public health issues so that women know what to expect.

The placenta has a ton of nutrients, but some of the placenta-eating-advocates are making some outlandish claims — like that placenta-eating helps with postpartum depression and aids in breastfeeding. I mean, great, if people report positive experiences. And I am all in favor of letting people eat their placentas if they want to, even though reading this article made me feel actually ill. I love hippies as much a the next feminist, but the woo-woo stuff just gets a little too intense for me. Eat your placenta with a nice glass of Chianti, and enjoy! But there’s no need to invoke specious medical benefits when there’s absolutely no evidence, you know?

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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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169 Responses

  1. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date March 3, 2012 at 4:57 pm |

    Possibly it’s the baby’s placenta, not the mother’s.

  2. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date March 3, 2012 at 4:59 pm |

    There was supposed to be a link to the Science-Based Medicine blog:

    Science-Based Medicine: Eating Placentas: Cannibalism, Recycling, or Health Food?

  3. JD
    JD March 3, 2012 at 5:20 pm |

    Is this a thing? I didn’t know this was an actual thing that people did. I guess I’m going to second everything in this post, because Jill is far more coherent than I am at the moment.

  4. Jadey
    Jadey March 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm |

    The placenta eating thing is too much for me. I can’t dissociate from similar activities like eating your scabs or your snot – it may not be unhealthy, but it’s very, very, very gross.

    Then again, swappin’ spit and various sexual fluids doesn’t bother me to the same degree (obviously context matters), so I guess YMMV.

    Nonetheless, the title of this post definitely robbed me of my desire for lunch.

  5. LE
    LE March 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm |

    Do all these women want to take their placentas home so they can eat them, though? IDK, in some cultures (such as Maori) it can be really important to bury the placenta. Here in NZ it would be a big ass deal not to let someone bring a healthy placenta home so they could dispose of it as they saw fit.

  6. victoria
    victoria March 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm |

    To be fair, this is not always an issue of white hippies wanting to take part in the latest nutritional fad. There are a lot of women who have religious and cultural practices involving the placenta (such as the Hmong) and who have also faced difficulties in having their ritual practices respected by hospitals.

  7. DonnaL
    DonnaL March 3, 2012 at 5:32 pm |

    This is nothing new; I remember hearing — and joking — about this before my son was born in 1990. There were cookbooks with recipes for placenta, and I’m sure there still are.

  8. Jean
    Jean March 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm |

    Overwhelmingly, that article makes me recall just how much I hate Brooklyn foodies. ““When I was pregnant, I just craved organs,” says Beckham, a onetime vegan and raw-foodist who now eats grass-fed and organic meat. “I’d go to Diner [the Williamsburg restaurant] and order beef hearts, marrow … so the placenta just made sense…After I gave birth, I threw a chunk of placenta in the Vitamix with coconut water and a banana,” she adds. “It gave me the wildest rush. You know the feeling of drinking green juice on an empty stomach? It’s like that, but much more intense. It was definitely physical.” Gag.

    I don’t understand why more research hasn’t been done on the health benefits of placenta consumption. If nearly every mammal does it, why don’t we have any idea why we DON’T do it? Did humans regularly eat their placenta in the distant past? Are there any human cultures where it’s the norm to eat placenta (and I don’t necessarily mean a middle-class new age hippie outpost in Crown Heights). I’m glad that the article mentioned that cooking the placenta pretty much ruins any nutritional advantage the placenta would have. I’m curious to know more about what nutrients are preserved in turning the placenta into pills–which is pretty much the only way I could ever imagine consuming my own placenta.

  9. Bri
    Bri March 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm |

    I brought my daughter’s placenta home from the hospital so I could bury it in a special place. It was just something I wanted to do. It sat in our freezer for over 12 months before we got around to taking it where we wanted to bury it. 4 years later there is some particularly healthy looking plant growth over the area where we buried it.

  10. LaLasha
    LaLasha March 3, 2012 at 6:36 pm |

    I would just like to point out most placenta eaters/ingesters are doing so in a safe manner. It’s cooked and dried. Yes some women eat it raw but most don’t.

  11. Evergreen
    Evergreen March 3, 2012 at 6:38 pm |

    One of my good friends wanted to take her placenta home…so that they could use as a stand-in for a human body during a training exercise for the local rescue dog association, of which she and her pup are members. :D

  12. Lindsay Beyerstein
    Lindsay Beyerstein March 3, 2012 at 7:30 pm |

    Some mammals consume their own placentas, but it’s not something primates usually do in the wild.

    Placentophagists imply that eating the placenta is “natural” for humans (whatever that means), but there’s no particular reason to assume so. A few cultures have placenta-eating traditions, but it’s probably more about symbolism than physiological need.

    But if women want to eat their own placentas, mazel tov. It’s a free country. As far as I’m concerned, an optional placental doggie bag should be included in the price of a delivery.

  13. EG
    EG March 3, 2012 at 7:33 pm |

    There was an awesomely funny New York Magazine article about this trend some months ago, and I entertained myself by reading it out loud to my then-pregnant best friend. The best part was the professional placenta-preparer who described a client’s placenta as “fresh and joyful.”

    After my best friend gave birth, she asked me to check and see if her placenta was joyful.

    But sure, people believe all kinds of things. If they want to cook and freeze-dry their joyful placentas and claim it has something to do with what “all mammals” “naturally” do, where’s the harm?

  14. Other Miriam
    Other Miriam March 3, 2012 at 7:35 pm |

    This is extremely popular in the “natural birth” movement in the US. My doula wrote me a long, concerned email when I passed on having my placenta encapsulated, telling me that I was going to suffer all kinds of adverse post-natal reactions if I didn’t eat it. I didn’t.

    I am popping some popcorn. The comments on this one will be a doozy.

  15. Lindsay Beyerstein
    Lindsay Beyerstein March 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm |

    I wish they wouldn’t claim that all mammals eat their placentas in nature, because it’s not true.

  16. Chiara
    Chiara March 3, 2012 at 7:43 pm |

    One of my good friends wanted to take her placenta home…so that they could use as a stand-in for a human body during a training exercise for the local rescue dog association, of which she and her pup are members. :D

    Wait.. how big is a placenta? 0.o

  17. EG
    EG March 3, 2012 at 7:53 pm |

    I wish they wouldn’t claim that all mammals eat their placentas in nature, because it’s not true.

    I wondered about that! I mean, herbivores, surely they don’t, right? Can their digestive systems even process meat? And as to the carnivorous or omnivorous animals that do, I would bet cash money that it’s because when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, it would just be foolish to let a hunk of meat go to waste.

  18. shfree
    shfree March 3, 2012 at 8:15 pm |

    You know, there are a lot of practices that we, as human mammals, did way back in the day that I’m willing to let go of. (Using every last scrap of whatever animal we kill, no matter how rank the bit might be, for example. Even when I wasn’t a vegetarian, there are things I just wouldn’t consume.) And if placenta eating was one of those practices, I’m certainly not regretting failing to consume the placenta I passed from my daughter’s birth. So I get that there is this whole desire to return to something that is less complex and free from modern interference and technology, but just because it’s old skool doesn’t mean it’s better. And that is where the arguments start. Old skool vs. new skool are just different perspectives, not about which one is superior.

  19. Matt
    Matt March 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm |

    Eating the placenta provides nothing but the same nutrition as other meat. Humans don’t need that because we already have access to nutritious food. I guess you could make an argument from poverty or something though? I don’t care what you do with your placenta because radical ideologists don’t care about what a person chooses to put in their own body no matter what it is, but if you think there are any medical benefits compared to any random hunk of fresh meat you are incredibly stupid. Or maybe ignorant is a better word than stupid, since some placenta eaters are probably very smart. Silly and ridiculous is definitely an appropriate description.

  20. Dreidel
    Dreidel March 3, 2012 at 8:27 pm |

    I don’t know the current rules, but when I worked in hospitals years ago, there were specific requirements for deposing of organic waste, which was defined as anything removed from a person’s body during surgical procedures, childbirth, etc. (excluding newborn babies, of course). Patient weren’t allowed to take their tonsils, appendix, whatever, home.

  21. j.
    j. March 3, 2012 at 8:36 pm |

    LOL “hip mamas.” I can’t wait for them to descend on this post and tell you, Jill, that you’re “close-minded” to “other ways of knowing” (i.e., woo-woo bullshit).

    (Obviously, it’s their placentae and they can do as they like. Even if they want to prepare it with fava beans and a dry CHEE-AAAN-ti. *thup thup thup thup thup*)

  22. Bridget
    Bridget March 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm |

    I think the idea behind it is that the placenta is full of hormones, and therefore helps prevent post-partum depression caused by a sudden drop in pregnancy hormones after giving birth.

    I find it really gross and there’s no way I could do it, though! I remember seeing something online when I was pregnant, a tutorial for DIY placenta encapsulation, and I remember thinking, “yeah, that’s exactly what I’d want to do just after giving birth,” haha.

  23. Jane
    Jane March 3, 2012 at 9:17 pm |

    @ EG — I’m pretty sure another reason many carnivorous/omnivorous animals eat their placentas in the wild is that animals like bears and wolves usually give birth in a place they need to maintain safely for a while (at least until the cubs/pups are big enough to fend for themselves to some extent), and the smell of the blood/placenta can draw other predators to the den. This is in contrast to an animal like a horse, which can get up and move with the herd a few hours after it’s born.

  24. DonnaL
    DonnaL March 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm |

    there were specific requirements for deposing of organic waste, which was defined as anything removed from a person’s body during surgical procedures, childbirth, etc. (excluding newborn babies, of course). Patient weren’t allowed to take their tonsils, appendix, whatever, home.

    That’s my understanding. Which is why trans women who have their testicles removed, whether as part of GRS or in an orchiectomy, aren’t allowed to take them home in a jar. Not that I’ve heard of too many who would want to. Or of anyone who was interested in using them to create a new recipe for Rocky Mountain oysters.

    But maybe placentas are in a different category. Not to mention that other removed body parts are routinely sent to be biopsied, which I assume isn’t the case for placentas.

  25. chava
    chava March 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

    Actually, herbivores do eat their placenta. We’re not sure WHY–some theories say it’s to hide the evidence/smell of a birth from predators, plus any extra calories are generally good for wild animals.

    AFAIK there is no solid evidence that a well nourished human gets any benefit from eating the placenta. Everyone I know who has done so seems to looooove it, but hey, the placebo effect is a real and powerful thing.

    Personally I don’t get the need to see/eat/bury/touch the placenta, but I (sort of) grok why some women feel a need to do so for emotional closure. I mean, you did just grow and expel an organ. I’m not sure about the medical waste/legality issue–it seems to me that as long as you aren’t selling it there would be very little risk. And it IS your damn organ. ( I wonder if you can take home your heart or liver, after a transplant…)

  26. aboat
    aboat March 3, 2012 at 10:08 pm |

    I have a couple of (very non woo-woo) friends who swear by eating the placenta. And yes, potentially it is just a placebo affect, but there does seem to be resistance to this culturally that goes beyond purely the medical. I find the idea gag-worthy though, but it is mainly a food-texture issue. But particularly if it is culturally important to eat/bury/whatever the placenta, it ought to be accommodated as far as is reasonably possible.

  27. chingona
    chingona March 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm |

    I mean, herbivores, surely they don’t, right? Can their digestive systems even process meat?

    Cows eat their placentas. If you think about it, it makes more sense for herbivores to eat their placentas, as you lose blood during birth, and herbivores don’t have another good way to get a high dose of iron and protein. I think it also makes sense as a defensive adaptation – to eliminate evidence of the birth that predators might use.

    Most of the people I know who eat their placenta encapsulate it. I don’t know everything that goes along with that process and I’m skeptical of the psychological benefits, but it’s not like digging into some rare placenta stake.

    I know a lot more people who wanted to bury their placenta with, say, a rose bush or a tree. I would have done that if I didn’t have a dog. I wasn’t prepared to face the risk of the dog digging it up and eating it.

    I do kind of regret not looking at my placenta in my second birth. It’s a pretty amazing organ, and it’s not often that you get to see one of your own organs. I just had my mind on other things, and by the time I thought about it, I was home already.

    I do think if it comes out of my body, it’s mine. I think you should be able to take it home if you want. It’s not any more dangerous than your period, which you get to have at home.

  28. chingona
    chingona March 3, 2012 at 10:57 pm |

    Personally I don’t get the need to see/eat/bury/touch the placenta, but I (sort of) grok why some women feel a need to do so for emotional closure.

    Birth is the end of your internal/biological/physical connection to your child and the beginning of their external life. The placenta is what’s left of that internal connection. It’s a physical manifestation – on the outside of both of your bodies – of the connection that you shared and that is now ended. I don’t think it’s that weird that some people give it emotional significance.

  29. artdyke
    artdyke March 3, 2012 at 11:28 pm |

    Sure dogs eat their placentas… and then they throw up. And then they eat it again… and then they throw up again… sounds like a great idea.

  30. igglanova
    igglanova March 3, 2012 at 11:32 pm |

    Everything about this trend makes me want to hit my face against my desk.

  31. Serad Anon
    Serad Anon March 3, 2012 at 11:42 pm |

    Zĭ hé chē or human placenta has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. It is from the supplement the yang category of the Chinese Materia Medica . It tonifies Liver and Kidney Yang, augments the Jing (essence), augments Qi (especially Lung Qi) and nourishes Blood.

    It it most often given to women after birth, but can be used for anyone who is generally depleted. Zi he che is not a strong tonic, but it tonifies everything.

    It’s also considered best to use your own.

  32. librarygoose
    librarygoose March 3, 2012 at 11:59 pm |

    A good portion of mammals eat the placenta after birth and are driven, to the point of actually doing risky behavior if they say, drop it from a tree. They’ll go get it and risk predators with a new born. Now, with apes, especially humans, the larger amount don’t eat them. There are, however, a fuck ton of rituals for it. That’s as far as the anthropologist in me can go. I think it’s gross and would probably say “Bleh” if anyone told me they ate theirs. But meh, I’d only really care if it became law.

  33. debbie
    debbie March 4, 2012 at 12:38 am |

    I have no real opinion about placenta eating, but this

    Sure dogs eat their placentas… and then they throw up. And then they eat it again… and then they throw up again… sounds like a great idea.

    made my night (maybe that’s a sad thing on a Saturday night?).

  34. Amelia ze lurker
    Amelia ze lurker March 4, 2012 at 1:53 am |

    Serad—pregnancy is a yang state and post-parity is a yin state, right? Is that why the placenta, being yang, is “given to women after birth”?

    1. Serad Anon
      Serad Anon March 4, 2012 at 2:05 am |

      Pregnancy is Yang in general, though any woman may be Yang deficient during her pregnancy. Growing a baby takes a great deal of everything (Qi and Blood as well as Yang and Yin) and women tend to be deficient postpartum.
      While placenta is in the tonify Yang category, it tonifies everything- but Yang (and Qi) a bit more than Yin (and Blood).
      Traditionally it was brewed with other tonifing medicinals and given to the mother. These days, as far as I know, it’s only used if needed- otherwise it’s held onto or sold. Having bought placenta before- it’s not cheap.

  35. seisy
    seisy March 4, 2012 at 2:22 am |

    My first exposure to the whole idea was an article- in Salon?- written by a woman who decided to eat hers. (Fried. With mushrooms, IIRC). I have never wanted brain bleach so badly in my life. To each their own, but my reaction was one of such visceral disgust I’m kind of shocked it’s a thing.

  36. chingona
    chingona March 4, 2012 at 2:43 am |

    But maybe placentas are in a different category. Not to mention that other removed body parts are routinely sent to be biopsied, which I assume isn’t the case for placentas.

    This comment triggered a memory, and Google tells me I did not misremember. Hospitals sell placentas to cosmetic companies. (Link to reputable news source here.)

  37. outrageandsprinkles
    outrageandsprinkles March 4, 2012 at 2:51 am |

    I don’t know any specifics on how the waxing and waning of placenta-eating trends over the years, but I am already pretty familiar with the general idea since I’ve been reading stfuparents for some time. It’s one of those things that I fully support for others, would never want to do myself because I would puke, and just really don’t want to see pictures of. Though there was that dried placenta teddy bear a while back that was, at least, interesting.

    As for any possible, actual, medical benefits of eating placenta, I have no idea if there really are any, but as someone who is terrified at the thought of postpartum depression I can get behind the idea of using the placenta even if it’s just a placebo affect.

  38. Gappy
    Gappy March 4, 2012 at 4:46 am |

    I’ve eaten all three of my placentas – it wasn’t that great.

  39. damigiana
    damigiana March 4, 2012 at 10:31 am |

    I don’t know how many of the people commenting have given birth. I did and the placenta surely looked tasty: like a piece of liver at a moment when you’re hungry as a wolf. I wouldn’t have minded it quickly fried with olive oil, white wine, and sage but alas, it was disposed of as a bio-hazard.

  40. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon March 4, 2012 at 10:58 am |

    Which is why trans women who have their testicles removed, whether as part of GRS or in an orchiectomy, aren’t allowed to take them home in a jar. Not that I’ve heard of too many who would want to. Or of anyone who was interested in using them to create a new recipe for Rocky Mountain oysters.

    This NEEDS to be a new trend.

  41. chava
    chava March 4, 2012 at 11:40 am |

    Birth is the end of your internal/biological/physical connection to your child and the beginning of their external life. The placenta is what’s left of that internal connection. It’s a physical manifestation – on the outside of both of your bodies – of the connection that you shared and that is now ended. I don’t think it’s that weird that some people give it emotional significance.

    Erm, yeah? Which is why I said that I (sort of) get it. I just don’t feel that need myself. My mother gave mine a decent burial under a rosebush; I thought about doing the same, but there are enough things you have to fight the hospital on to get an unmedicated birth without adding the placenta to it all. Just didn’t make the cut of “things I will be devastated if I don’t get to do/see” this time.

  42. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm |

    I thought about doing the same, but there are enough things you have to fight the hospital on to get an unmedicated birth without adding the placenta to it all. Just didn’t make the cut of “things I will be devastated if I don’t get to do/see” this time.

    Dealing with the placenta was also so not on my short list of things worth fighting over during my birth experiences either. Too often, L&D staffers and doctors alike make every little damn thing a battle, and it sucks.

    That being said, and even though I personally had no interest in my placenta post-birth, my gut instinct is to be irked when others mock women who do place importance on consuming it in some fashion (or even who wish to bury it in their backyard for that matter.) I think it’s the bigger issue I see coming up time and again with people criticizing or mocking woman who make pregnancy/birth/parenting decisions that don’t line up with their own personal values. To each her own, and unless it is actually causing measurable harm to someone in a significant manner, keep your judgmental criticism and snark to yourself. Or, better yet, learn to be more tolerant of those who don’t agree with you on any or all of these issues 100%.

  43. Jennifer
    Jennifer March 4, 2012 at 12:37 pm |

    even though I personally had no interest in my placenta post-birth, my gut instinct is to be irked when others mock women who do place importance on consuming it in some fashion (or even who wish to bury it in their backyard for that matter.) I think it’s the bigger issue I see coming up time and again with people criticizing or mocking woman who make pregnancy/birth/parenting decisions that don’t line up with their own personal values. To each her own, and unless it is actually causing measurable harm to someone in a significant manner, keep your judgmental criticism and snark to yourself. Or, better yet, learn to be more tolerant of those who don’t agree with you on any or all of these issues 100%.

    Strongly seconded.

  44. EG
    EG March 4, 2012 at 12:50 pm |

    Referring to a placenta as “joyful” is silly and demands mockery. It’s an organ. It doesn’t have feelings.

  45. igglanova
    igglanova March 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm |

    We don’t have to treat the silly things people do with kid gloves just because the people who do them are women. Treating women like delicate flowers who can’t handle a bit of mockery is patronizing in itself. Good grief, we can have opinions about ridiculous new-age shit without ceding any feminist ground.

  46. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 4, 2012 at 1:37 pm |

    Referring to a placenta as “joyful” is silly and demands mockery. It’s an organ. It doesn’t have feelings.

    EG, this detail itself may sound silly, but I think you know I’m commenting on the bigger picture where women’s choices or values are constantly questioned, derided and criticized in our US culture. Too often it’s done simply for the sheer sport of it, and because women are easier targets for criticism then men are.

  47. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

    Igglanova, I’m not talking about treating women as delicate flowers. Instead, I’m insisting that we all start from the assumption that women are intelligent enough to decide for themselves what they do or do not value and how they want to live their lives.

    I really do understand the inclination towards dismissing this sort of stuff as new-agey or crunchy, hipp-dippy nonsense. Really, I do. But then again, I’ve had that same sort of dismissiveness used against me personally to criticize my own birthing and parenting decisions by others (and I’m really not outside what most would consider the mainstream.) It still stinks of sexism to me to wave women and their viewpoints aside as silly, because that shit has been used since the beginning of time as just another way to prove that we don’t know our own minds or even have the intellectual capacity to form a coherent thought in the first place.

  48. debbie
    debbie March 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm |

    It still stinks of sexism to me to wave women and their viewpoints aside as silly, because that shit has been used since the beginning of time as just another way to prove that we don’t know our own minds or even have the intellectual capacity to form a coherent thought in the first place.

    So, we’re not allowed to criticize any woman’s decision ever because misogynists do it too?

  49. EG
    EG March 4, 2012 at 2:22 pm |

    I’m not going to give up mocking any member of half the human population when she does something silly. It is one thing to wave aside women’s viewpoints and concerns because they are feminine; it is another altogether to wave aside women’s viewpoints and concerns because they fall into a category of things I consider absurd and silly. I have enough faith in my ability to tell the difference that I’m not giving women a get-out-of-mockery-free card on the off chance that misogynists might also find something silly and use it to discredit women.

    It’s silly to pretend that organs have emotions. It’s silly to claim that we should do something because it’s “natural.” It’s silly to claim that all other mammals do something, so we should to, especially when not all other mammals do so.

    The fact that an argument can be used fallaciously by misogynists does not invalidate that argument in all other contexts. For instance, misogynists will call a woman who has an abortion a baby-killer. They are wrong and they are assholes. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t perfectly appropriate to use the term “baby-killer” to describe somebody who actually kills babies.

  50. benvolio
    benvolio March 4, 2012 at 2:23 pm |

    Am I the only one old enough to remember the “Placenta Helper” faux-commercial from the Gilda Radner SNL days? Sigh.

  51. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm |

    So, we’re not allowed to criticize any woman’s decision ever because misogynists do it too?

    Doesn’t this sound a little too much like the old, “I’m not sexist, but” line of questioning to you?

    I suppose I am insisting that we interrogate the inclination towards feeling free to criticize women’s choices and values in a way we rarely see parallel criticisms of men. Even if we are mostly women doing that questioning, is the aim the criticizing those we see as other or outside our own mainstream or personal experience? Is it because we see being that far outside of our own norm as threatening or annoying, and if that is the case, why?

    Because honestly, what is the harm if some woman decides she wants to consume her placenta for whatever reason? It doesn’t affect you or your life personally. Heck, as someone else pointed out upthread, Chinese medicine has long utilized placenta for treatment of women in the post-partum period. So why the ick factor, why the pointing and laughing at how silly?

  52. Gappy
    Gappy March 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm |

    I’m not going to give up mocking any member of half the human population when she does something silly. It is one thing to wave aside women’s viewpoints and concerns because they are feminine; it is another altogether to wave aside women’s viewpoints and concerns because they fall into a category of things I consider absurd and silly. I have enough faith in my ability to tell the difference that I’m not giving women a get-out-of-mockery-free card on the off chance that misogynists might also find something silly and use it to discredit women.

    I guess that’s fair enough. Like I said upthread, I ate all three of my placentas. It was a completely personal thing. I’ve never advocated that anyone else do it, I’ve never credited the practice with any kind of mystical powers. In fact I can state categorically that it does not prevent post-natal depression. I had my first child when I was 23 and ate my entire placenta raw. It didn’t stop me from developing peurperal psychosis – the most severe of the post-natal illnesses.

    However I still chose to eat the placentas that nourished my two other foetus’, although cooked this time! Again, just a personal thing.

    I don’t think it’s silly or gross. Neither do I think it’s ‘important’ or ‘liberating’ or particularly ‘clever’. Whatever you know? It just is. Do it or don’t.

  53. Gappy
    Gappy March 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm |

    I totally mucked that comment up, sorry. I meant to put the other persons quote as bold, and my response not. Sorry. I’m a bit rubbish at computers.

  54. EG
    EG March 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm |

    I suppose I am insisting that we interrogate the inclination towards feeling free to criticize women’s choices and values in a way we rarely see parallel criticisms of men.

    I can’t help you. I mock men’s choices incessantly as well. And I’m cool with that. I’m not aiming for a world where nobody gets mocked or questioned ever.

    Because honestly, what is the harm if some woman decides she wants to consume her placenta for whatever reason? It doesn’t affect you or your life personally.

    It’s precisely the fact that there isn’t any harm that leads me to mock only, rather than take it seriously and argue or campaign against it. If it caused harm, or affected me in any way, I wouldn’t stop with some gentle mockery.

    So why the ick factor, why the pointing and laughing at how silly?

    As for ick, I’d say it’s because in Western culture, we by and large don’t eat organ meats of any kind any longer. I’ve had liver, and don’t care to again, and I’ve had kidneys, and don’t care if I ever have them again or not. We also, as a culture, tend not to encourage the eating of one’s own body parts–we tell kids not to eat their scabs, because it’s icky.

    As for silly, I believe I articulated that above. I don’t find eating the placenta particularly silly–pointless, perhaps, but lots of things are. I find the discourse placenta-eating-advocates use to be incredibly ridiculous.

  55. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 4, 2012 at 3:15 pm |

    As for ick, I’d say it’s because in Western culture, we by and large don’t eat organ meats of any kind any longer. I’ve had liver, and don’t care to again, and I’ve had kidneys, and don’t care if I ever have them again or not.

    Really, your baseing part of your argument on this tidbit of information? That may be true of white U.S. culture, but once you step outside of that narrow little universe you’re going to find that nearly every other hue and variety of humanity enjoys a steady diet of organ meats and offal of all kinds. Personally, as a first generation Frog, liver and kidneys are two of my favorite items I look forward to consuming when my husband and I manage to get a sitter and go out to eat a real restaurant meal.

    Thanks, now I’m dying for some foie gras and ris de veau…

  56. Matt
    Matt March 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm |

    I concur with pretty much everything EG says.

  57. EG
    EG March 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm |

    Yes, yes, Lolagirl, I’m aware that most other cultures like organ meats. However, you are asking why people find eating placenta icky in this culture, so my answer applies to this culture. If you want to know why people find eating placenta icky in some other culture, if they do, you would have to ask them.

    Indeed, I should have said “US” rather than “western,” though. That was a thoughtless error.

    Tell me, are there other cultures in which consuming other bits of one’s own body is considered the thing to do? Because I note you didn’t address that.

  58. DonnaL
    DonnaL March 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm |

    I mock men’s choices incessantly as well. And I’m cool with that. I’m not aiming for a world where nobody gets mocked or questioned ever.

    I think this is the important thing to remember. Lolagirl is entirely justified in criticizing “the inclination towards feeling free to criticize women’s choices and values in a way we rarely see parallel criticisms of men.” In this case, though, I think that “crunchy hippy-dippy New-Agey nonsense” coming from men gets mocked and criticized just as much as the same kind of thing coming from women. Also, it’s the overblown rhetoric accompanying practices like this that EG is making fun of, far more than the practice itself.

    Never mind that for rather obvious reasons I have a particular antipathy towards New Agey stuff to the extent it uses overblown rhetoric to exalt, and sometimes come close to deifying, in a very gender-essentialist way, things like childbirth and the uterus and menstruation and the moon and the tides and so on. If you want to bury your placenta, that’s fine, and I think it’s rather sweet. Eating it, well, whatever. But treating it as a sacred object isn’t harmless by any means, and reinforces a certain kind of thinking that I find abhorrent.

  59. Chiara
    Chiara March 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm |

    Well some people eat their fingernails.

    Personally I ain’t so bothered if someone wants to eat some placentas.

  60. Chiara
    Chiara March 4, 2012 at 3:51 pm |

    Anyone notice how women are way into all that wacky bull? I mean I’m not and I don’t know anyone who is. But you never see men into that.

  61. debbie
    debbie March 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm |

    Doesn’t this sound a little too much like the old, “I’m not sexist, but” line of questioning to you?

    I admit to being totally perplexed by this response. A big part of my feminism is the expectation that I get treated like an adult who is capable of critical thought. The insistence that no one can question or criticize women’s decisions and opinions is a little too close to the “I choose my choice” thing that I hate about liberal feminism.

    I suppose I am insisting that we interrogate the inclination towards feeling free to criticize women’s choices and values in a way we rarely see parallel criticisms of men. Even if we are mostly women doing that questioning, is the aim the criticizing those we see as other or outside our own mainstream or personal experience? Is it because we see being that far outside of our own norm as threatening or annoying, and if that is the case, why?

    Sure, let’s look at the way that women, and mothers in particular, are subjected to a level of surveillance that men do not experience. I’m working on a project about that right now (specifically, disproportionate state intervention into First Nations families). I don’t think that means that I can’t think that some parenting decisions that women (and men!) make are silly or harmful.

    As for this being something that is outside of my experience, it’s not. I watched both of my siblings were delivered at home by midwives (although I was delivered in the hospital, I was a vaginally delivered breach birth, which is pretty rare). So long as I have a low-risk pregnancy, I fully intend to deliver at home with a midwife, to breastfeed (if possible) for at least a year.

    I know tons of crunchy moms who are all about the placenta eating, child-led weaning, co-sleeping, and often anti-vaxxing. As a subculture, I have little patience with it, not because it is unfamiliar or makes me uncomfortable or I find it threatening. I can’t stand so-called “lifestyle activism,” and I am a fan of science-based medicine.

    You want to cook and eat your placenta? Fine. You want to claim it’s some feminist political statement? When you’re not connecting it to any kind of analysis about reproductive justice? I’m not interested.

    Because honestly, what is the harm if some woman decides she wants to consume her placenta for whatever reason? It doesn’t affect you or your life personally. Heck, as someone else pointed out upthread, Chinese medicine has long utilized placenta for treatment of women in the post-partum period. So why the ick factor, why the pointing and laughing at how silly?

    I don’t see any harm. I don’t think I claimed that I did. I don’t want to make it illegal (and seeing as I don’t live in the US and not a citizen, I don’t think the government is all that interested in what I have to say in the matter). I don’t see how there’s any feminist requirement that I, or any other posters on feministe, validate the parenting decisions made by others.

  62. Revser
    Revser March 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm |

    The whole thing sounds totally gross to me, and I would never want to eat my placenta or even bring it home. That being said, there are lots of things that other people do with their bodies that I don’t do with mine–from dietary choices to sexual acts to body modification. Other people do stuff that I find gross, and I’m sure I do stuff that others find gross. But my squick factor shouldn’t really determine what other people are allowed to do with their lives.

    Unless there’s some compelling public health argument against it (which I haven’t heard), it seems to me that you should get to keep anything that comes out of your own body if you want it.

    Particularly, I think people whose religious and/or cultural beliefs necessitate some burial or ritual with the placenta (like the Hmong) should not have to jump through more medical hoops other than maybe signing a waiver. What’s the big deal?

    Of course, I think you should probably be allowed to keep your appendix in a jar, too, if it really floats your boat. I reserve the right to think you’re a little weird, but I respect your right to BE weird, too.

    Just don’t serve me placenta at a dinner party, okay?

  63. EG
    EG March 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm |

    Anyone notice how women are way into all that wacky bull? I mean I’m not and I don’t know anyone who is. But you never see men into that.

    Sure you do. Don’t you remember that Iron-John-go-into-the-woods-and-howl-at-the-moon-in-a-drum-circle stuff that Robert Bly was advocating a few years back?

  64. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve March 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm |

    Anyone notice how women are way into all that wacky bull? I mean I’m not and I don’t know anyone who is. But you never see men into that.

    Yes, you do.

  65. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve March 4, 2012 at 4:05 pm |

    Having said that, if Chiara was specifically referring to the ‘placenta-eating’ advocacy, then it is only right that men are not involved.

  66. debbie
    debbie March 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm |

    Anyone notice how women are way into all that wacky bull? I mean I’m not and I don’t know anyone who is. But you never see men into that.

    Seriously?

  67. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm |

    However, you are asking why people find eating placenta icky in this culture, so my answer applies to this culture.

    But this isn’t even universal to U.S. culture, as I pointed out, especially once you get out of the lily white areas of the U.S. Black and Latin and Asian cultures of all varieties get down with organ meats/offal, even here in the good old U.S. of A. Sorry for the nitpicky derail, but I can’t just sit back and agree that U.S. culture is synonymous with the sort of Anglo-white culture you are describing.

    As far as cultures where human body parts are consumed, I recall watching an episode of Bizarre Foods not too long ago that highlighted a Sub-Saharan African culture that had the male elders of a family consume the foreskin of their recently circumcized child boy family member. So, sure, there are limited cases where I think it may very well occur.

  68. EG
    EG March 4, 2012 at 4:17 pm |

    especially once you get out of the lily white areas of the U.S. Black and Latin and Asian cultures of all varieties get down with organ meats/offal, even here in the good old U.S. of A. Sorry for the nitpicky derail, but I can’t just sit back and agree that U.S. culture is synonymous with the sort of Anglo-white culture you are describing.

    But this article is about the hippy-crunchy-granola placenta-eating trend in white Brooklyn hipster parents. In that context, the sort of Anglo-white culture I’m describing is the relevant culture.

    And that’s all very interesting about sub-Saharan foreskin-eating, but completely irrelevant to why the dominant US culture finds placenta-eating icky.

  69. EG
    EG March 4, 2012 at 4:19 pm |

    especially once you get out of the lily white areas of the U.S. Black and Latin and Asian cultures of all varieties get down with organ meats/offal, even here in the good old U.S. of A. Sorry for the nitpicky derail, but I can’t just sit back and agree that U.S. culture is synonymous with the sort of Anglo-white culture you are describing.

    But this article is about the hippy-crunchy-granola placenta-eating trend in white Brooklyn hipster parents. In that context, the sort of Anglo-white culture I’m describing is the relevant culture.

    And that’s all very interesting about sub-Saharan foreskin-eating, but completely irrelevant to why the dominant US culture finds placenta-eating icky.

    I mean, if the point you want to make is that very few things are considered icky cross-culturally, that’s fine. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not considered icky within a given culture–you asked why, in this context, it’s considered icky.

  70. Chiara
    Chiara March 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm |

    Personally I have drunk some of blood once when I was a kid. It has an interesting metallic taste.

    Sure you do. Don’t you remember that Iron-John-go-into-the-woods-and-howl-at-the-moon-in-a-drum-circle stuff that Robert Bly was advocating a few years back?

    Actually I remember that the whole ‘wiccan’ thing was actually started by a guy, but apparently he just did it so he would get lots of sex. It’s crazy how wicca portrayed as a positive woman-thing especially in TV shows, even though this is common knowledge now that it’s bullshit.

  71. Chataya
    Chataya March 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm |

    it uses overblown rhetoric to exalt, and sometimes come close to deifying, in a very gender-essentialist way, things like childbirth and the uterus and menstruation and the moon and the tides and so on. If you want to bury your placenta, that’s fine, and I think it’s rather sweet. Eating it, well, whatever. But treating it as a sacred object isn’t harmless by any means, and reinforces a certain kind of thinking that I find abhorrent.

    All of this.

    It’s probably just the kind of blogs I read, but this New Age-y nonsense usually pops up alongside a bunch of rhetoric that boils down to “women = uterus/vulva = baby making” which I find distasteful on so many levels. It strongly reminds me of the kind of rhetoric that you see among Fundamentalist Christians, where baby making is the ultimate expression of godly womanhood.

  72. sabrina
    sabrina March 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm |

    personally I find it to be a choice issue. What another person chooses to do with hir own body is none of my fucking business. Frankly, I don’t find eating the placenta any more gross than eating liver, since the placenta basically functions as a liver for the growing fetus. Mocking other women for choosing something is a misogynist act, and that includes if they choose to eat their own placenta. Also, the selling of a woman’s tissue to cosmetic companies is fucked up. We can’t do what we see fit with our own body tissues, but the fucking hospital can sell our parts for profit? I don’t fucking think so

  73. vanessa
    vanessa March 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm |

    i hate the idea that we can’t judge someone just because they are female, or part of another oppressed group. It reminds me of the feminists who claim that we can’t judge Michelle Duggar. Um…actually, we can judge the fuck out of her. And I find eating placenta absurd. I don’t care if YOU do it, but that doesn’t mean I won;t find it silly.

  74. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm |

    I was vegetarian for 5 years and conditioned myself to view all meat as disgusting so it would be easier for me to abstain from it. And even though I eat meat now, I still residually view it all as pretty much disgusting at a basic level. And I don’t really see placenta as different than other meat–so yeah, gross, but no grosser than anything else. Besides, it’s cannibalism, so that seems cool. It’s hard for the 12 year old boy in me to reject anything having to do with cannibalism. And the fact that most people find eating a placenta gross makes me accept the practice on its face. Anything that fucks with the sensibilities of the majority is great in my book, all other things being equal.

  75. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 4, 2012 at 5:41 pm |

    But this article is about the hippy-crunchy-granola placenta-eating trend in white Brooklyn hipster parents. In that context, the sort of Anglo-white culture I’m describing is the relevant culture.

    That isn’t really the point, though, because we were talking about your own personal ick factor and why you had a gross out type reaction this phenomenon. It’s icky because otherwise white, UMC hipsters would otherwise find this gross but for this newly hip trend isn’t the point you were initially making.

    I still think you’re, it’s just gross, eww, because I say so and other whitebread USians like me agree is an oddly un-thought out POV. And I also still disagree with the notion that women should get called out and ridiculed for daring to do something outside the mainstream like this. Again, I ask you, how does this in any way impact you personally that you can take such umbrage at it?

  76. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 4, 2012 at 5:57 pm |

    I still think you’re, it’s just gross, eww, because I say so and other whitebread USians like me agree is an oddly un-thought out POV.

    Isn’t disgust usually a visceral and un-thought out emotional/physical response that either results from innate instincts or some sort of conditioning? So, yeah, it seems like the reason most white USians view eating a placenta as gross is because they’ve been conditioned to view eating a placenta as gross. Being aware of this doesn’t change the visceral reaction of disgust though. One would have to intentionally de-condition oneself over a period of time to lose the disgust reaction, and even then the de-conditioning might not be completely successful.

  77. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 4, 2012 at 6:19 pm |

    Isn’t disgust usually a visceral and un-thought out emotional/physical response that either results from innate instincts or some sort of conditioning?

    Fair enough, but I will still feel free then to criticize such a knee-jerk reaction to consuming as food something that is outside of what is generally considered mainstream by white folks here in the U.S. Again, I was raised by a non-U.S. born parent in a pretty diverse place (both racially and ethnically) so pinging my gross radar when it comes to food is a pretty difficult thing to achieve. Maybe that’s also why I can only shrug and say, whatever, placenta eating isn’t for me but I don’t give a rat’s behind if some other woman feels compelled to do so for whatever reason. My notions of cultural normity are pretty damn broad to begin with, so the only thing that will generally get my back up are the criticism of otherwise minority or fringe POVs.

    I think the other side issue that is bothering me here is the echoing of judgment for birth-related decisions women make here in the U.S. Someone else upthread mentioned how deep the emotional complexity of the birth experience can be for plenty of women, and if some pregnant or immediately post-partum woman feels such a gripping need to either consume or even bury her placenta under a rose bush or whatever in her backyard I can at least understand that it was a compelling enough reason for her and leave it at that.

  78. Ledasmom
    Ledasmom March 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm |

    Now I rather want to start a teashop called “The Joyful Placenta”, but I’m not sure about the decorating scheme.

  79. igglanova
    igglanova March 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm |

    Igglanova, I’m not talking about treating women as delicate flowers. Instead, I’m insisting that we all start from the assumption that women are intelligent enough to decide for themselves what they do or do not value and how they want to live their lives.

    Uh, you may not think you’re talking about treating women like delicate flowers, but that’s precisely what you’re doing when you try to hold us exempt from criticism. I am insulted, frankly, that people feel the need to protect my class of people from mundane ribbing.

    I also rolled my eyes so damn hard at accusations of judging things only from a white ‘USian’ context. JFC, way to totally reveal that your default assumption of Feministe commenters is that we’re American. People outside the US find placenta-munching silly and pointless, too.

  80. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm |

    Iglanova, I wasn’t the one who started with the white U.S. people just aren’t down with placenta eating and it’s just not done business. Not that it’s worth anything, but the only person I know irl who has eaten her placenta was Australian. And again, Chinese medicine utilizes dried placenta for treating post-partum women, but as China has such a small population as to be negligible from a global perspective it’s probably completely insignificant vis a vis this discussion.

    Going back to the point about not questioning women, maybe I didn’t make my point clearly enough so I will try and clarify. In countries like the U.S., where sexism is still so pervasive, women’s points of view are generally dismissed out of hand simply because they are held by a woman instead of a man. I think it is important when discussing this issue to question if some of the knee jerk, those silly new-agey hippy dippy chicks are so utterly ridiculous to want to eat their post-partum placentas isn’t to some rather significant degree colored by the fact that it is women and not men engaging in the practice. Personally, I think that if this were a similar thing men were beginning to do as a cultural trend it wouldn’t be so roundly criticized as stupid and silly.

    I go back to my earlier point, that it’s important to start from the assumption that each and every woman is intelligent and capable enough to know her own mind. Because the old trope that woman are just silly little ninnies who can’t be entrusted to make life decisions for themselves unimpeded by the superior intelligence of men is still alive and well here in the U.S.

  81. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 4, 2012 at 7:01 pm |

    Someone else upthread mentioned how deep the emotional complexity of the birth experience can be for plenty of women, and if some pregnant or immediately post-partum woman feels such a gripping need to either consume or even bury her placenta under a rose bush or whatever in her backyard I can at least understand that it was a compelling enough reason for her and leave it at that.

    I really agree with this. I find it really sweet and touching, actually, that a woman would ritually commemorate the birth of her child either by burying her placenta or eating her placenta. I like it when people honor their feelings and create their own meaning out of their life experiences like that. I also understand the desire many people on this thread have, however, to push back against or mock psuedoscientific, gender essentialist, or otherwise problematic justifications for placenta eating. On the one hand, what people do with their bodies and what they eat is nobody else’s business. On the other hand, when people publicly advocate for something using ideas that when carried to their logical conclusion are dangerous, it sort of becomes something of public interest. And I can see how many people would think criticizing these ideas is good or OK or necessary or just plain ol’ fun. For me personally, though, placenta eating is a fringe enough thing that I don’t have any problem with it or really care about the discourse around it and just find it more intriguing than anything. But that’s just me.

  82. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe March 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm |

    To each her own, and unless it is actually causing measurable harm to someone in a significant manner, keep your judgmental criticism and snark to yourself. Or, better yet, learn to be more tolerant of those who don’t agree with you on any or all of these issues 100%.

    I agree, but how do you prevent someone from selling or giving it to someone else? I can see a whole black market for this, not a large one, but a group into this. And diseases can be spread this way.

  83. lawguy
    lawguy March 4, 2012 at 7:25 pm |

    Actually Benvollo that SNL sketch was the very first thing I thought of when I saw this.

  84. hellkell
    hellkell March 4, 2012 at 8:32 pm |

    If a woman wants to eat her placenta, go right ahead, no skin off my back.

    I’ll still think it’s kind of woo.

    I think if men were to start eating placenta, it would get even more side-eye and an even more visceral “EW” response.

    I really should not have read about this while trying to eat dinner.

  85. Maria
    Maria March 4, 2012 at 8:51 pm |

    It’s cannibalism.

    Yes, it starts with a woman eating her own organ, but it ends with packs of post-partum hippie mothers roving through Central Park, taking down joggers, and devouring them alive.

    Which is to say, I support this movement.

  86. Emily
    Emily March 4, 2012 at 10:17 pm |

    Only DonnaL put forward an actual critique of this practice as potentially harmful to women’s equality. Most other commenters against the practice are just making fun of women choosing to do something they personally think is icky. I agree that women are not above criticism, but women are constantly mocked, criticized and blamed for parenting decisions that others consider “weird” or wrong. If you think placenta eating is bad for feminism, criticize away. If you’re just entertaining yourselves by making fun of other women because they made a choice you think is strange, well, I do think that’s unfeminist. We get that crap from society all the time, why pile on against each other?

  87. EG
    EG March 4, 2012 at 10:40 pm |

    Sabrina:

    Mocking other women for choosing something is a misogynist act

    Really? Anything a woman does is beyond reproach or mockery? No, thanks. Mocking a woman for being a woman or for being a woman in a way you find unacceptable is a misogynist act. Mocking a woman for doing something silly is just acknowledging that women are human.

    Lolagirl:

    That isn’t really the point, though, because we were talking about your own personal ick factor and why you had a gross out type reaction this phenomenon.

    Then we have a misunderstanding. I didn’t have a gross-out reaction; I don’t have a personal ick factor. I have a pretty high tolerance for ick when it comes to food–there’s some food I don’t like, like duck tongues, but not because I find them icky, just because I don’t like the taste or the texture. Since I’ve never eaten a placenta, I can’t comment on the taste or the texture. But, like Ben said, it’s meat, and unlike Ben, I don’t find meat gross. I understood you to be asking why, in US culture, it’s pretty common to find placenta-eating gross, and that’s what I was answering.

    I still think you’re, it’s just gross, eww, because I say so and other whitebread USians like me agree is an oddly un-thought out POV. And I also still disagree with the notion that women should get called out and ridiculed for daring to do something outside the mainstream like this. Again, I ask you, how does this in any way impact you personally that you can take such umbrage at it?

    You can go back and look, but I never said that it was gross. I have repeatedly said that I am mocking their justifications and rhetoric for doing so, because it’s New Age woo. Something can be outside the mainstream and still not be worthwhile.

    I’m not taking umbrage. If I were taking umbrage, I’d be indignant. I’m making snotty jokes and cackling. And I do that not because something impacts me personally, but because I find it amusing.

    an oddly un-thought out POV

    Heh. So your reactions of disgust are the result of carefully reasoned and balanced philosophical thought? Of course disgust is un-thought-out. It’s disgust. The opposite of attraction. I don’t think out attraction, and I don’t think out disgust (example: I don’t find placentas disgusting, but I do find waterbugs viscerally repulsive. Is there anything objectively wrong with the form of the waterbug? Not to entomologists or, presumably, to other waterbugs, or to people who don’t find them gross. But that doesn’t make me less disgusted by them.) I mean, I find being my height or an inch or so shorter attractive in a man. Do I have a good, well-thought-out reason? No. I just do.

  88. anon for this one33
    anon for this one33 March 4, 2012 at 10:44 pm |

    I think I’m going to make it a life goal to never eat anything that I have to expel from my uterus. Obviously, if you’d like to fry up some of your own tissue with some mushrooms and shallots and a little bit of wine, rock on with your bad self, but I’m probably still going to twitch a little bit at the level of woo. I’m frankly pretty over the idea that birth is this magical mystical experience that connects women to their bodies in fantastic and extraordinary ways–plus, you know, I don’t want to eat something I pushed out of my uterus via my vagina. I can envision myself, à la Steve, Don’t Eat It!, just staring, absolutely exhausted, at a hunk of tissue in a pan while a newborn shrieks in the other room …

  89. igglanova
    igglanova March 4, 2012 at 10:46 pm |

    Iglanova, I wasn’t the one who started with the white U.S.

    My bad. I should have proofread more carefully – that ‘you’ wasn’t meant to be addressed to you, specifically.

    I do find it irritating, however, that you are trying to use the oppression of women as an excuse to dissuade a bunch of women from having (gasp) an opinion on something. To be clear, I don’t really care that much about people deciding to eat their placentas. It seems pretty harmless. (Though the practice of processing it into pill form seems like a good way to part gullible people from their money.) I don’t want to prevent people from doing it by force or anything. I just reserve the right to think it’s dumb.

    Moving past the placentavore stuff for the moment…if I recall correctly, women actually are more likely to fall for scammy woo-type shit than men. That doesn’t mean we should refrain from dismissing homeopathy, acupuncture, ‘traditional Chinese medicine,’ or whatever, just because those particular scams might acquire the stigma of femininity. Or, to go at it from another angle…just because there is a stereotype that women are dumb at science doesn’t mean that feminists can’t dismiss Sarah Palin as a total scientific ignoramus.

    Basically, what I’m trying to say is that membership in an oppressed group is not enough to put someone above scrutiny. There is a way to attack feminine-coloured bullshit that is misogynistic, but seriously, this thread ain’t it.

  90. EG
    EG March 4, 2012 at 10:47 pm |

    Lolagirl:

    if some pregnant or immediately post-partum woman feels such a gripping need to either consume or even bury her placenta under a rose bush or whatever in her backyard I can at least understand that it was a compelling enough reason for her and leave it at that.

    Indeed. And if she wants to say “This is important to me and it’s what I want to do and there’s no compelling reason to prevent me from doing it,” I too will leave it at that. And if she feels the need to wax eloquent about its joyfulness and how natural it all is, and how we all should be doing that, I will laugh and laugh and laugh.

    it’s important to start from the assumption that each and every woman is intelligent and capable enough to know her own mind.

    Well, there’s where we disagree. I start from the assumption that any given woman is no stupider than some random given man, and also no smarter, and that she has the right to make stupid decisions for herself if she wants to. What she doesn’t have the right to do is to make them without being criticized or made fun of, which is how I feel about men, as well. She may know her own mind, but that doesn’t mean that I have to agree that her mind isn’t very silly.

    Ledasmom:

    Now I rather want to start a teashop called “The Joyful Placenta”, but I’m not sure about the decorating scheme.

    I’m seeing a lot of dark reds and browns. And an awful lot of herbal teas.

    Maria:

    Yes, it starts with a woman eating her own organ, but it ends with packs of post-partum hippie mothers roving through Central Park, taking down joggers, and devouring them alive.

    Which is to say, I support this movement.

    Wow. That’s a hell of an image, and you’ve made a convert out of me! I’m in!

  91. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 5, 2012 at 12:22 am |

    If you’re just entertaining yourselves by making fun of other women because they made a choice you think is strange, well, I do think that’s unfeminist. We get that crap from society all the time, why pile on against each other?

    First of all, I just want to make it clear that I’m not being personally defensive with what follows in this post because I think placenta eating is great and I don’t even have a problem with “woo” like many posters here; I mean I love tarot card readings for fuck’s sake. So yeah.

    So anyway, now for the mansplanation about the placenta debate. There seems to be two different basic assumptions that people are starting from here. Some people are starting from the assumption that mockery is great fun and harmless and should be aimed at everyone, man or woman. And others are starting from the assumption that mockery is mean and should be avoided and only used if someone really, really deserves it. So the pro-mockery people are saying “why shouldn’t we be able to make fun of people who eat their placentas? It’s silly and we mock all sorts of other people for similiar woo-woo things all the time, both men and women.” And the anti-mockery people are saying “wait a minute! It’s mean to mock women and anti-feminist because it’s tearing down something that’s very important to these women. You’d never do that to a man!” And the pro-mockery people are like “actually we would do it to the man. Mockery is the default!”

    Now I feel like I myself am in a bizarre, compromised situation that straddles both these worlds. Because I am pro-mockery but also pro-placenta eating and pro-hippy dippy woo-woo BS. So I feel like I am in a preternaturally situated to offer insights about the particular nature of this debate. Thank you; thank you: please, enough applause for now.

  92. DragonBreath
    DragonBreath March 5, 2012 at 1:44 am |

    In the case of a home birth the choice is yours to do with the placenta what you want. The doctor or mid wife usually suggests that you bury it next to a plant.

    Chiara
    You remember the whole Wicca thing? You knew Gerald Gardner?
    It is common knowledge that Wicca turned out to be bullshit, really? Have you done any research on the subject; talked to any Wiccans lately? Or are you just quoting the latest right wing christian bullshit? BTW i am not Wiccan but i have friends who are; they would laugh at your opinion.

  93. Gappy
    Gappy March 5, 2012 at 2:06 am |

    Reading this thread with a lot of interest. I also object strongly to this faux feminist idea of ‘Woman as natural giver of life, connected to the moon and tides, here to nurture the universe with her gentle ways’ bullshit. I think it plays into damaging sexist notions of what it means to be a woman and that it encourages muddled, unscientific thinking. I’m like, ‘Yeah but what are we going to do about the rape conviction rate?’ (I’m British by the way.)

    But I did choose to eat my placentas for personal reasons, and I can’t quite get my head around the level of disgust I see on this thread. Why? For example these quotes:

    I think I’m going to make it a life goal to never eat anything that I have to expel from my uterus.

    I don’t want to eat something I pushed out of my uterus via my vagina.

    I mean of course if that’s how you feel that’s fair enough, but why? Is your uterus disgusting? Is your vagina dirty? Perhaps I’m way off the mark, but your comments smack of body hatred to me. I just don’t understand this general revulsion at something that has been such a vital part of our bodies. A placenta isn’t bodily waste in the same way that shit or urine is. It’s an organ that nourishes and keeps the foetus alive for months, and although I certainly do not deify it with any mystical powers, that still felt significant to me. So sue me.

  94. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 5, 2012 at 2:06 am |

    DragonBreath, I’m sure Chiara has mountains of peer reviewed, dog-eared comparitive religion journals to back up her statements about Wicca. Why, I believe it was just the other week that Chiara reported to us important facts she had uncovered on another topic. After meticulous examination of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and True Blood, she had come to the realization that all gay relationships involved a “truck driver guy” and a “fashion guy.” I thought that was very informative.

  95. Esti
    Esti March 5, 2012 at 3:05 am |

    Gappy, I think the revulsion most people feel about placenta-eating is tied to the fact that it’s ingesting a part of your body. Kidneys are also pretty neat organs that we grow inside us (at an earlier age) and that keep us alive and do cool stuff, but even if you had a perfectly healthy kidney removed for some reason, very few people would be inclined to eat it. Ditto menstrual blood, tonsils, or your appendix (which some people do have removed when totally healthy, as a preventive measure before going somewhere with limited medical care).

    Obviously, different people have different thresholds for when injesting some part of their body grosses them out. Nailbiting has never grossed me out while placenta-eating does; you might be the reverse. But I don’t think it’s all that strange that people are icked out by the idea of consuming one of their own organs.

  96. Crys T
    Crys T March 5, 2012 at 4:55 am |

    Although I’m one of those who rolls her eyes at the hippy-dippy stuff, I can’t help but wonder how many of those who are “Ew, gross!”-ing the placenta thing themselves drink milk and/or eat cheese?

    Because, yeah: “your own placenta”=”ewwwww, yuck yuck yuck!”, while “glandular secrection from an animal of a different species”=”oohh, yummy!” Right. Hypocritical much?

  97. samanthab
    samanthab March 5, 2012 at 6:49 am |

    Crys t, I don’t 100% disagree with your point, but to judge by smell, which is a good indicator of taste, one is yummy and the other isn’t. You don’t hear placenta eating women saying how fabulous it tasted. You hear about health benefits that research does not confirm. So I think it’s legitimate to perceive one as enticing and the other not.

  98. Meg
    Meg March 5, 2012 at 6:53 am |

    Dealing with the placenta was also so not on my short list of things worth fighting over during my birth experiences either. Too often, L&D staffers and doctors alike make every little damn thing a battle, and it sucks.

    That being said, and even though I personally had no interest in my placenta post-birth, my gut instinct is to be irked when others mock women who do place importance on consuming it in some fashion (or even who wish to bury it in their backyard for that matter.) I think it’s the bigger issue I see coming up time and again with people criticizing or mocking woman who make pregnancy/birth/parenting decisions that don’t line up with their own personal values. To each her own, and unless it is actually causing measurable harm to someone in a significant manner, keep your judgmental criticism and snark to yourself. Or, better yet, learn to be more tolerant of those who don’t agree with you on any or all of these issues 100%.

    Yep, this. Katharine McKinnon is doing some interesting research on ‘the geopolitics of birth’ at the moment. I never realised what a fraught and power-ridden space L&D was until hearing her talking about it.

  99. Chiara
    Chiara March 5, 2012 at 7:24 am |

    You remember the whole Wicca thing? You knew Gerald Gardner?
    It is common knowledge that Wicca turned out to be bullshit, really? Have you done any research on the subject; talked to any Wiccans lately? Or are you just quoting the latest right wing christian bullshit? BTW i am not Wiccan but i have friends who are; they would laugh at your opinion.

    No I haven’t talked to any Wiccans but they’re probably too deep into it you know. I’m not sure it was Gerald Gardner but basically one of those wiccan types just made it up to get laid. I looked on the wikipedia article for Gerald Gardner and it doesn’t mention this, but it may have been censored.

    Also like all religions it’s all bull anyway, so who cares?

  100. Chiara
    Chiara March 5, 2012 at 7:37 am |

    You remember the whole Wicca thing? You knew Gerald Gardner?
    It is common knowledge that Wicca turned out to be bullshit, really? Have you done any research on the subject; talked to any Wiccans lately? Or are you just quoting the latest right wing christian bullshit? BTW i am not Wiccan but i have friends who are; they would laugh at your opinion.

    No I haven’t talked to any Wiccans but they’re probably too deep into it you know. I’m not sure it was Gerald Gardner but basically one of those wiccan types just made it up to get laid. I looked on the wikipedia article for Gerald Gardner and it doesn’t mention this, but it may have been censored.

    Also like all religions it’s all bull anyway and stuff, so who cares?

  101. Crys T
    Crys T March 5, 2012 at 7:47 am |

    I think it’s legitimate to perceive one as enticing and the other not.

    Yeah, if you don’t take into account that what is enticing is entirely culturally based. A lot of people who come from cultures that don’t use dairy have said thinkgs like cheese smells like something rotten (which, heh, it IS) and drinking a glass of milk is about as “enticing” as drinking a glass of cow saliva. What makes you think milk smells nice?

    And anyway, “yumminess” perceptions weren’t even the point of what I was saying: it makes no fucking sense to “eww gross” another person for eating placenta when you personally are gobbling and gulping down cow glandular secretions–for whatever reason. And if you’ve ever eaten pate or a hot dog, it makes even less sense. Hell, I don’t even see how eating the muscular tissue of an animal is somehow more “sensible,” let alone less “gross.” Unless it’s the magical “I like it so it’s ok” card.

    God, threads like this make me question whether people even know what the food they’re eating actually is.

  102. anon for this one33
    anon for this one33 March 5, 2012 at 8:19 am |

    Gappy:

    I mean of course if that’s how you feel that’s fair enough, but why? Is your uterus disgusting? Is your vagina dirty? Perhaps I’m way off the mark, but your comments smack of body hatred to me. I just don’t understand this general revulsion at something that has been such a vital part of our bodies. A placenta isn’t bodily waste in the same way that shit or urine is. It’s an organ that nourishes and keeps the foetus alive for months, and although I certainly do not deify it with any mystical powers, that still felt significant to me. So sue me.

    My uterus is not disgusting, and I’m chill with my vagina, but that still doesn’t mean I want to eat anything that is a part of my body, except for maybe a fingernail or two, or a little bit of blood if I’m trying to cut a papercut to close up. I actually think I have a reasonably rocking body, all in all, but I don’t want to eat something I’ve made inside of me. That’s like a barrier crossed. For me, a placenta is fundamentally a form of a waste product, because as a temporary organ meant to filter things for the baby, I have no need of it after the baby is born. I don’t think it’s indicative of body hatred that I’d like to avoid eating something that I had to labor to take out of my body …

  103. Sandy
    Sandy March 5, 2012 at 8:30 am |

    Background: I planned a home birth with a midwife, because, among other things, I have some issues with doctors and control stemming from traumatic childhood stuff. Did part of me want all the latest medical technology of a hospital right there on standby during my child’s birth, just in case something went wrong? Oh hell yes. But on the other hand there are all those iatrogenic infections and unwanted interventions, Pitocin, episiotomies, etc. I was having a low risk pregnancy, I was privileged enough to be able to afford to pay a midwife and hopefully get reimbursed later, and women still have the right to choose where to birth. After a lot of reading and risk/reward analysis, I decided home was the right place for me. Plenty of people will decide that makes me woowoo or selfish or irresponsible right off the bat. I don’t care.

    I suffer from chronic depression. I made arrangements to have a semi-local doula freeze dry and encapsulate my placenta in hopes of possibly replacing my daily pharmaceutical anti-depressant with my encapsulated placenta.

    I ended up in the hospital, where they refused to let me have my placenta.

    Maybe ingesting my placenta would have helped with my depression, and maybe it wouldn’t, but I was worried about PPD, and concerned about continuing my anti-depressant while breastfeeding, and so I wanted to try it. Supposedly the placenta is full of hormones–hormones that I just lost by shedding the thing. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that ingesting it helps people like me. What did I have to lose? The cost of a nice dinner out. And what’s gross about taking a pill? Nothing at all. I take pills every day.

    The placenta is not sacred to me. Personally I wouldn’t want to eat it raw, and I wouldn’t care enough to ceremonially bury it. But I certainly wouldn’t mock a woman who felt differently. Anyway, yes, I did want to ingest it in pill form. Go ahead and judge and/or mock me. I can’t believe I’m about to use this cliche, but when you become a parent, you want to do your best for your child, whatever that might be. Me, I was really hoping not to have to put an antidepressant into my body while I was breastfeeding, at least for a while, but to still mother my newborn from a good place, not suffering from the very real and very unfortunate symptoms of depression. And if consuming one’s placenta doesn’t actually do anything, hey: as people have mentioned, even the placebo effect can be powerful.

    I discussed continuing my antidepressant while nursing with a positively silly number of different doctors the week my daughter was born. I’d already discussed it with my own doctor and my daughter’s pediatrician, but a bunch of random doctors kept popping into my hospital room to discuss with me the risks, because the medication was probably safe and totally my decision, but they wanted to warn me about the risks. Cause risks, there were risks. Did they mention the hazy unspecified risks? Taking anti-depressants while breastfeeding involves a risk/reward assessment, doncha know. The parade of doctors was like what you’d expect from a clown car.

    From what I have read, ingesting one’s placenta does not have any risks. But apparently this part of my body was too dangerous to let me keep. Because I might potentially in theory let someone else have it and potentially thus spread disease?

    FUCK YOOUUU.

    I get waves of frustration and anger welling up just thinking about this. My placenta was mine and if I’d stayed out of the hospital it would have stayed mine, but because I ended up in the hospital, someone had the right to take it away from me and either dispose of it as medical waste or sell it.

    In the grander scheme of things, no, not a big deal. But the reason I wanted a home birth was so that I would have a degree of control over what happened to me. Instead I went to the hospital and labored with tubes in me, two monitors strapped to my stomach, Pitocin dripping in my IV, random people I didn’t know coming in and out of the room, and a feeling of zero control over anything. I finally gave birth paralyzed from the neck down with Duramorph, with a nice urinary catheter and about ten people in the room I’d never met before. My husband was not allowed into the operating room at first. They finally allowed him in right before they removed our daughter from my body. Even though I obviously hadn’t wanted a C-section, I was grateful the misery of the induced labor was over. I remember lying on the surgical table, trying to clear a pile of phlegm with the muscles of my throat and wondering if I was going to choke, because I couldn’t move my chest enough to cough or even breathe deeply. (I knew the doctors would suction me if I stopped breathing or my vital signs went down, so it was never really scary, just kind of … “wow, can’t lift chest enough to cough, chokey mucus, hmmm.”) I’m privileged to live in the US and have ready access to proficient medical care; at no point was I worried about dying. But knowing that I am privileged and lucky did not make me feel much better about what was a kinda shitty birth experience because my autonomy was the first thing that went in the trash can when I walked through those doors.

    Anyway, my point is that I would hope even people who think placenta nomming is gross can agree that there’s a problem when bureaucratic hospital protocols blow off patients’ agency, decline to honor extremely modest wishes (I’m not even talking about the placenta now, I’m thinking of something really minor that they initially agreed to and then were like, “no, stfu and do what you’re told” about) and leave patients feeling disempowered, disrespected, even traumatized. My experience in the hospital, a small part of which was being denied my placenta, my own damn body part for which I had a planned use, definitely left me feeling shitty. There’s a wonderful piece at BalancingJane about how the Hospital vs. Home Birth Debate misses the point, which is that going into the hospital shouldn’t mean you have to give up all your autonomy, all control, all privacy, all dignity, all the things that can make a birth experience positive.

    http://www.balancingjane.com/2012/02/follow-up-to-birth-debate-of-homemade.html

    My happy ending was having an easy, wonderful baby and no PPD. In that, I really got lucky.

    (Though the practice of processing it into pill form seems like a good way to part gullible people from their money.)

    To this I must say: the woman I hired for this, or had arranged to hire, had astonishingly inexpensive rates. She was a doula and she was personable and awesome and obviously not doing it solely for the money. Just … I mean, think about it. Dealing up close and hands-on with other people’s placentas for a pittance. I have no idea if she was the norm or an outlier in what she charged.

    My midwife, on the other hand, said placentas smell gross and she didn’t deal with them; to her they were medical waste, no more.

    I did wonder if the lady might be a scam artist, like, you hand her a container of placenta and five seconds later, “Here are your placenta capsules, enjoy!” but she was willing to prepare it at her home or mine, in my own kitchen, right in front of me.

    I’m sure there could be people out there who think placenta preparation is absurd and are just trying to make a buck off the women who want to do it, but the first woman I came across clearly did it because she truly believed it could help other women, not because it was an uber-profitable business venture that was making her wealthy.

    If I were going to try to part gullible people from their money, it wouldn’t be through handling their placentas. Just me though.

  104. m
    m March 5, 2012 at 8:38 am |

    Someone pointed this out way back at the beginning of the thread, but it seems to be getting lost in the shuffle: some cultures (Hmong being one example) place an extremely high value on performing certain rituals with the placenta. Not being allowed to take it home from the hospital and perform these rituals is harmful.

    Dismissing these cultural values as “woo” (as several commenters seem to be doing when they imply there is NO valid reason for wanting to take the placenta home), is maintaining systems of oppression.

  105. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 5, 2012 at 8:59 am |

    Because, yeah: “your own placenta”=”ewwwww, yuck yuck yuck!”, while “glandular secrection from an animal of a different species”=”oohh, yummy!” Right. Hypocritical much?

    How is this hypocritical? I don’t make fun of babies who drink “glandular secretions” from a human animal.

  106. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie March 5, 2012 at 9:04 am |

    I’m frankly pretty over the idea that birth is this magical mystical experience that connects women to their bodies in fantastic and extraordinary ways.

    Sorry that you’re “over” the idea, but – yeah, for lots and lots of women, it is magical and mystical. Growing and bringing forth a new life, using only your own body in the process? Pretty freaking amazing, even if you personally disdain it.

  107. Other Miriam
    Other Miriam March 5, 2012 at 9:11 am |

    I’m sure there could be people out there who think placenta preparation is absurd and are just trying to make a buck off the women who want to do it, but the first woman I came across clearly did it because she truly believed it could help other women, not because it was an uber-profitable business venture that was making her wealthy.

    If I were going to try to part gullible people from their money, it wouldn’t be through handling their placentas. Just me though.

    I don’t doubt that my doula meant well by offering to encapsulate my placenta and told me that I would suffer an array of adverse post-natal side effects if I didn’t eat my own placenta. I think she believes every word of what she said. Of course there are “legitimate” reasons for taking home your own bodily organs from the hospital, but we don’t choose our choices in a vacuum.

    I can’t speak to what the rural Chinese do. In the US this obsession around the placenta is part of a greater trend of monetizing birth by setting up cottage industries that prey on women’s anxiety over childbirth, parenting, and the moral comeuppance around green, responsible, “natural” lifestyle choices. It capitalizes on breastfeeding services, placenta encapsulation, herbal remedies, etc., by promising a “natural”, “healthier” childbirth experience if you take part in their classes and use their methods. For a fee. It is all very much connected to the “woman as earth mother” stereotypes, and is completely ripe for feminist examination. These groups advocate breastfeeding by any means necessary, they advocate placenta-eating over pharmacological medication for women who suffer depression, and yoga is prescribed as a cure for all ills. At its root, this is one facet of yet another version of competitive motherhood. Why anyone thinks its above feminist criticism is beyond me.

  108. Other Miriam
    Other Miriam March 5, 2012 at 9:22 am |

    My primary criticism with the whole movement is that between the breastfeeding, the cloth diapering, the attachment parenting, and the urban homesteading, the “natural” birth/parenting movement basically requires its adherents to be stay at home moms. Placenta-eating is just one piece of the puzzle. The bigger implication is that some moms are willing to make sacrifices and commitments for their family’s health (by eating placenta, cloth diapering, making their own organic baby food, breastfeeding, baby-wearing) and some aren’t (working mothers, mothers who can’t/won’t breastfeed, mothers who are weirded out by eating their own organs, taking meds that contraindicate breastfeeding, etc.).

  109. anon for this one33
    anon for this one33 March 5, 2012 at 9:33 am |

    Sorry that you’re “over” the idea, but – yeah, for lots and lots of women, it is magical and mystical. Growing and bringing forth a new life, using only your own body in the process? Pretty freaking amazing, even if you personally disdain it.

    I’m not referring to pregnancy there–If you noticed, I was referring to birth in specific, and to the idea that a birth must be magical/mystical/orgasmic/insightful/beautiful, or else you’re doing it wrong.

    Birth is not always insightful. It’s not always great. It’s not always beautiful. I think that we all get this at a fundamental level. It can be great. It can be something that can make you feel like a woman, I guess, whatever that means.

    There’s this whole cottage industry built up around the idea of shaming women for having “non-natural”, non-organic, insufficiently green birthing and child care practices, and it’s especially prevalent among young women of my age. It promotes practices seen as empowering to women which may or may not actually be that empowering, and actually rely on a lot of gender-essentialist woo. When natural childbirth, extended breast feeding, placenta-eating, cloth-diapering, home-cooked baby foods, quitting a job to stay home with the baby, etc., are centered as the best option, without a doubt, as opposed to only one option, I think it’s a damaging thing. I’ve got a lot going on in my life that is probably going to preclude me from doing all of these things that you’re supposed to do to be a good mother (I can, with perfect clarity, envision myself laundering cloth diapers exactly never), and I’m not interested in feeling bad about it and resent the implication that I should. Furthermore, I can’t be the only one to notice that a lot of crunchy practices that are meant to be best for the child by default end up making the lives of mothers harder by enshrining self-sacrifice via domesticity as the best choice for families.

  110. Crys T
    Crys T March 5, 2012 at 9:42 am |

    PrettyAmiable, if you can tell the difference between a baby animal drinking the secretion specifically designed for its nutritional needs by millenia of evolution, and members one species drinking the secretions of another–and waaaay past any reasonable age of weaning– then turning round to a fellow species-member and squealing, “You eat placenta? Eww, YUCK!” then I can’t help you.

    And please note: you wanna do the dairy, fine. I do some myself. I just don’t lie to myself that I’m doing anything more “reasonable” or “less disgusting” than eating my own placenta.

  111. Crys T
    Crys T March 5, 2012 at 9:43 am |

    Damn! “can’t tell the difference,” “can’t!”

  112. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 5, 2012 at 9:48 am |

    Some people are starting from the assumption that mockery is great fun and harmless and should be aimed at everyone, man or woman. And others are starting from the assumption that mockery is mean and should be avoided and only used if someone really, really deserves it. So the pro-mockery people are saying “why shouldn’t we be able to make fun of people who eat their placentas? It’s silly and we mock all sorts of other people for similiar woo-woo things all the time, both men and women.” And the anti-mockery people are saying “wait a minute! It’s mean to mock women and anti-feminist because it’s tearing down something that’s very important to these women. You’d never do that to a man!”

    I think this is actually a dead on take of how this whole discussion is going down.

    I’ve been thinking about this post and ensuing comments in an attempt to figure out why it pushes my buttons to such a degree and I think there are two things in particular that are bothering me. First is my already mentioned take that it’s criticizing women to an extreme degree that men are usually not criticized. But the second issue that is bothering me is the characterization of certain women’s birth-related decisions as “new-agey” and “woo” and thus utterly dismissable as silly and ridiculous.

    I strenuously object to dismissing the vast majority of birth related decisions a woman makes as too woo or whatever because I think it’s just used as yet another cultural cudgel to tear women down and dismiss them as silly. And who gets to decide what is woo, because depending on who is making the call the spectrum can be pretty damn broad. No elective c-section? You silly little thing, why not just let the doctor do all the work and get it over with. Why don’t you just let the doctor induce you, and stop being so ridiculous and get the epidural already? VBAC, don’t be stupid, that’s dangerous and pointless.

    Oh, and once you have the temerity to actually have a child the criticism and mockery gets even louder, and one needs a scorecard to keep track of what is or isn’t going to subject him or her to criticism and mockery on their parenting-related choices. Breastfeeding, that’s just silly, and eww gross, why don’t you just formula feed like everybody else. How dare you put that baby in a stroller, or do you think you are proving your crunchy bona fides by wearing that baby in a sling or something?

    So that is why I get my back up so quickly in this kinds of discussions.

  113. Other Miriam
    Other Miriam March 5, 2012 at 9:52 am |

    anon for this one33, you read my mind.

    PrettyAmiable, if you can tell the difference between a baby animal drinking the secretion specifically designed for its nutritional needs by millenia of evolution, and members one species drinking the secretions of another–and waaaay past any reasonable age of weaning– then turning round to a fellow species-member and squealing, “You eat placenta? Eww, YUCK!” then I can’t help you.

    The primary weirdness here is not “a” placenta, but “my/your own” placenta. We eat all kinds of animal products as a matter of course, up to and including glandular secretions and organ meats, but most of us draw a line at eating our own kidneys, livers, or, say, cheese and placenta.

  114. chava
    chava March 5, 2012 at 9:56 am |

    The naturalism fallacy does seem to play a huge role in this lifestyle or identity ‘package’ for young mothers at the moment, absolutely. Which is such a shame, because a nice chunk of the “natural parenting” choices make life easier and/or cheaper (babywearing, breastfeeding, more birth options, etc).

    I’m not sure how it got tied into the we-hate-plastics, organic, urban homesteading movement, the anti-vaxers and intactivists, plus yoga and the (faux) frugality thing, but it all seems to have combined into a new, regressive model for women my age. As my husband pointed out the other day, almost all these lifestyle choices only save money if you value women’s labor at zero.

    FWIW–I have repeatedly and publicly gotten in the face of people who insist on asking me if I am having a “natural” birth. Pointedly and loudly saying “Unmedicated? Probably. Natural? I don’t like that word” is at least a conversation starter.

    All that said, as for the placenta issue? You should be able to take your own damn body parts home, or at least have the right to the cash the hospital gets from selling them.

  115. chava
    chava March 5, 2012 at 9:59 am |

    PrettyAmiable, if you can tell the difference between a baby animal drinking the secretion specifically designed for its nutritional needs by millenia of evolution, and members one species drinking the secretions of another–and waaaay past any reasonable age of weaning– then turning round to a fellow species-member and squealing, “You eat placenta? Eww, YUCK!” then I can’t help you.

    And please note: you wanna do the dairy, fine. I do some myself. I just don’t lie to myself that I’m doing anything more “reasonable” or “less disgusting” than eating my own placenta.

    What about the part where cannibalism is a nearly universal human taboo? Yes, yes, a very few cultures ritually consume parts of their dead, but it ain’t common. That doesn’t mean it’s a priori wrong or bad for you, but it’s a hell of a lot more uncommon than pastoralism.

  116. Crys T
    Crys T March 5, 2012 at 10:02 am |

    Jill:

    For me, the “eew gross” comes in because it’s your own body part

    I can’t see why that makes it “more gross” than eating another animal’s body part. Hell, at least if it’s yours, you know the animal who contributed it is consenting.

    species matters

    To

    you

    , personally. Not to me, and not to a lot of other people.

    The point I was making is that people are either shockingly ignorant or willfully ignoring what the food they’re already eating is actually made of. If they really acknowledged it, a lot of what they eat is pretty “ewww.” At least as “eww” as someone eating their own placenta.

    So yeah, hypocrisy. Own up to what it is that you’re putting in your mouths before you start squealing over someone else’s choices.

  117. Crys T
    Crys T March 5, 2012 at 10:03 am |

    Ooh, that didn’t come out right.

  118. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 5, 2012 at 10:04 am |

    There’s this whole cottage industry built up around the idea of shaming women for having “non-natural”, non-organic, insufficiently green birthing and child care practices, and it’s especially prevalent among young women of my age.

    Huh, that is so completely the opposite of what I have experienced here in the Midwest/Chicago area. Perhaps it’s that opposite coast-ism thing again?

    Because I have gotten so much push-back socially for choosing non-medicated births for my last two pregnancies, as well as for breastfeeding and not corporally punishing my kids on a regular basis. And don’t even get my started on my hospital birthing experiences, because the push back I got there was staggering.

  119. Other Miriam
    Other Miriam March 5, 2012 at 10:10 am |

    Lolagirl, I’m in the Midwest/Chicago area, and my experience was opposite. Even from the hospital.

  120. Other Miriam
    Other Miriam March 5, 2012 at 10:12 am |

    Own up to what it is that you’re putting in your mouths before you start squealing over someone else’s choices.

    Squealing. Like a delicious suckling pig.

  121. chava
    chava March 5, 2012 at 10:13 am |

    I think the counterculture (call it Naturalism, or whatever) is present alongside the more mainstream, and often equally harmful, models of mothering and childbirth. Both have positive and negative elements, but the counterculture presents itself as a cure for women’s subjugation by the system, rather than as participating in the cultural double bind of motherhood where women (once again) can’t do anything right. Too sexy, not sexy enough. Too natural, not natural enough. Ad infinitum.

  122. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve March 5, 2012 at 10:21 am |

    Because I have gotten so much push-back socially for choosing non-medicated births for my last two pregnancies, as well as for breastfeeding and not corporally punishing my kids on a regular basis.

    People regularly criticize you for not corporally punishing your kids on a regular basis? I’m stunned. That’s totally outrageous. What is it their business anyway? I don’t think you can put this down to just people being from a certain geographical area.

  123. Sandy
    Sandy March 5, 2012 at 10:29 am |

    I don’t doubt that my doula meant well by offering to encapsulate my placenta and told me that I would suffer an array of adverse post-natal side effects if I didn’t eat my own placenta. I think she believes every word of what she said. Of course there are “legitimate” reasons for taking home your own bodily organs from the hospital, but we don’t choose our choices in a vacuum.

    We don’t make them in a vacuum, but we need to be free to make them. It’s the pressure that’s the problem. It’s the pushing of this anxiety onto women, period, and it can come from crunchy doulas or OB’s who need to practice defensive medicine or a million other sources, because they deeply believe what they’re saying or they want to make some money or both.

    Lolagirl, thank you for 115. It rings so true to me.

  124. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 5, 2012 at 10:29 am |

    Lolagirl, I’m in the Midwest/Chicago area, and my experience was opposite. Even from the hospital.

    Do you mean your experiences were similar to mine, or that you felt pressured to embrace the woo?

  125. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 5, 2012 at 10:50 am |

    People regularly criticize you for not corporally punishing your kids on a regular basis? I’m stunned. That’s totally outrageous. What is it their business anyway? I don’t think you can put this down to just people being from a certain geographical area.

    I think it is a geo-cultural issue, at least to a certain extent.

    The bigger issue is that being “crunchy” or “woo” is, first of all, pretty subjective, and second of all, the cultural acceptability of those qualities is far from universal depending on where one happens to live. Some posters here have commented that they feel unfairly pressured to embrace and be woo-woo crunchy when reproducing and parenting, and others of us have found that being considered woo-woo crunchy is not at all socially acceptable in our social circles and geographical areas.

    You are absolutely correct that it is nobody’s damned business if my husband and I don’t believe in corporal punishment, nor is it anyone’s damned business that I chose to have non-medicated VBAC births for my last two pregnancies, or that I chose to breastfeed our babies, and the list goes on.

  126. Other Miriam
    Other Miriam March 5, 2012 at 10:53 am |

    Do you mean your experiences were similar to mine, or that you felt pressured to embrace the woo?

    I felt very pressured to “embrace the woo”.

    I had a hospital birth attended by a midwife (in a medical practice, not “freelance”) and doula (who is part of a natural birthing/parenting center) with the aim of having a medicine-free birth, mostly due to fear of loss of control, but ended up having an emergency c-section after 24 hours of labor. The university hospital proceeded with the assumption that every new mother would breastfeed, but other than that was very value-neutral. I don’t want to splash my business all over the internet, but the midwife and doula made extreme statements about breastfeeding and placenta encapsulation all throughout my pregnancy, pressured me for months to do both and would not listen to my reservations or take my individual circumstances into account. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence suggesting that this pressure is not just one or two bad apples, but part of a larger movement toward “natural” parenting ideals in the US and Europe, couched in a lot of moralistic language about good mothers, responsible lifestyles, and parenting ideals.

    I have no conflict with most of these practices individually. Eat your placenta, don’t eat your placenta. Use a sling, don’t use a sling. But like chava said, there are big problems with taking this lifestyle as a whole, presenting it as the cure for the subjugation of women, and not taking into account the sexism and classism inherent to its practice as presented.

  127. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 5, 2012 at 11:16 am |

    I felt very pressured to “embrace the woo”.

    I find that really interesting, I kind of wish there was some way we could take this discussion off-board because I’m so suprised to read someone having such an experience outside of what I and other women I know have had.

    I’ll come out and say that all 3 of my births were at NMH (all with an OB, no midwife or doula would take me because of twins the first time and the VBAC for the other two births.) I’ve had nurses, OBs and Anestheseologists (residents and attendings) criticize me quite vociferously for the whole gamut of choices while in the hospital from the VBAC, no epi, breastfeeding (eww, you’re not a cow, why do that? Yes, a nurse did say exactly that to me, repeatedly.) And I’m not some in your face type who leads with the offense. But I have done tons of research and talked with my OB at length (he is actually quite supportive but was unable to attend my first two births, he ended up coming in in the middle of the night with my third birth because the chief resident was refusing to cooperate with my VBAC.) Oh, and I actually worked for a few years as a med-mal defense attorney, so I also bring that knowledge to the table with me.

  128. Contag
    Contag March 5, 2012 at 11:43 am |

    Considering that a great many cultures around the world regularly consume the body parts of other animals but very, very few regularly consume the body parts of human beings, I would say it’s not just “me, personally.” Nor is it hypocritical. It’s a nearly-universal truth that human beings do not eat human organs. There are a handful of exceptions, but only a handful.

    A great many cultures have been and are misogynistic – that is not a compelling reason as to why something should or should not be acceptable.

    In regards to the ‘only a handful of exceptions’ comment, more than a billion people are vegetarian. If you were unaware of this, it’s probably because they’re non-western, so that’s understandable.

  129. EG
    EG March 5, 2012 at 11:46 am |

    In regards to the ‘only a handful of exceptions’ comment, more than a billion people are vegetarian. If you were unaware of this, it’s probably because they’re non-western, so that’s understandable.

    How many of them have chosen vegetarianism, and how many vegetarian out of poverty?

  130. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve March 5, 2012 at 11:53 am |

    A great many cultures have been and are misogynistic – that is not a compelling reason as to why something should or should not be acceptable.

    In regards to the ‘only a handful of exceptions’ comment, more than a billion people are vegetarian. If you were unaware of this, it’s probably because they’re non-western, so that’s understandable.

    E.G. clearly stated there were a only a ‘handful of exceptions’ to the ‘nearly-universal truth that human beings do not eat human organs.’ What makes you think that non-western vegetarians eat human organs?

  131. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve March 5, 2012 at 11:55 am |

    Sorry, the original comment was from Jill, not EG….

  132. anon for this one33
    anon for this one33 March 5, 2012 at 11:57 am |

    Wait, where are you getting the statistic that more than a billion people are vegetarian? Obviously, there’s a great chunk of the world that’s vegetarian for religious reasons (some branches of Hinduism, a small number of Buddhists, Jainism, a few sects of Christianity, Rastafarians, and I’m sure probably others) but if that’s in some way based off of the number of people in India + millions of non-Indians, I don’t think that works. If we define vegetarianism as the deliberate avoidance of meat, something like 35-40% of India is considered vegetarian, with many others eating only specific kinds of meat. I don’t think that adds up to a billion in the end–given that the population of India is something around a billion, and we’ve got 400 million Indian vegetarians, I don’t know that there are more than 600 million non-Indian vegetarians in the world.

  133. Contag
    Contag March 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm |

    How many of them have chosen vegetarianism, and how many vegetarian out of poverty?

    It is considered a major tenet of most strains of Hinduism, and with a variety of other Asian religions.

    Even in sub-Saharan Africa, most people have access to meat, even if it’s only on a very limited basis. E.g. having bush meat to celebrate a special occasion.

  134. Katya
    Katya March 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm |

    Slightly OT, but in response to the poster who discussed continuing anti-depressants while breastfeeding–

    The advice you got seems totally opposite to the advice I did. My OBs told me that if you use SSRIs during pregnancy, you should continue to use them while breastfeeding, because the baby will go through a mild withdrawal otherwise. While popular culture bombarded me with messages that taking antidepressants was some huge threat to my baby, my actual physicians agreed that it’s better to keep taking antidepressants during pregnancy, because symptoms of depression can worsen during pregnancy and interfere with your ability to properly care for yourself and your baby. They said that most SSRIs are generally safe during pregnancy (I think Prozac is an exception).

  135. Contag
    Contag March 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm |

    Wait, where are you getting the statistic that more than a billion people are vegetarian? Obviously, there’s a great chunk of the world that’s vegetarian for religious reasons (some branches of Hinduism, a small number of Buddhists, Jainism, a few sects of Christianity, Rastafarians, and I’m sure probably others) but if that’s in some way based off of the number of people in India + millions of non-Indians, I don’t think that works. If we define vegetarianism as the deliberate avoidance of meat, something like 35-40% of India is considered vegetarian, with many others eating only specific kinds of meat. I don’t think that adds up to a billion in the end–given that the population of India is something around a billion, and we’ve got 400 million Indian vegetarians, I don’t know that there are more than 600 million non-Indian vegetarians in the world.

    It’s a rough figure, and the one most commonly thrown about.
    500 million or 1 billion, it is still far more significant than ‘a handful’.

    I think you’re missing the point, which was that the acceptability of an action shouldn’t be tied to its prevalence.

  136. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date March 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm |

    @Contag, given that Jill actually said

    It’s a nearly-universal truth that human beings do not eat human organs. There are a handful of exceptions, but only a handful.

    perhaps your post would be more relevant if you had said “In regards to the ‘only a handful of exceptions’ comment, more than a billion people do eat human organs.”

    (Which, do they?)

    I do not think that this thread is about eating animal products, in general. I think that it is about eating one very specific animal product.

  137. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 5, 2012 at 12:18 pm |

    perhaps your post would be more relevant if you had said “In regards to the ‘only a handful of exceptions’ comment, more than a billion people do eat human organs.”

    (Which, do they?)

    This was already discussed upthread, and I think that it is pretty universal that meat-eating cultures (of the non Anglo-white US variety) tend to be of the nose to tail variety. Off the top of my head, I can think of plenty of Asian and Latin cultures that eat pretty much all of it, in part because of economic necessity (because throwing out technically edible animal parts is expensive) and also because most organ/offal stuffs is pretty darn yummy (especially when prepared and cooked properly.)

  138. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date March 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm |

    Human organs. Not organ meat in general. Human organs.

    (Belated trigger warning for cannibalism.)

  139. chava
    chava March 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm |

    Now I’m wondering if a vegan would eat their own placenta as it is arguably the only truly ethical source of meat from a veg’n/animal rights framework (well, other than perhaps roadkill or animals who have died of natural causes).

    How did this thread take the veg’n turn again? Oh right, the “milk is disgusting” saw. Color me unsurprised.

  140. Adaquinn
    Adaquinn March 5, 2012 at 12:25 pm |

    It’s cannibalism.

    Yes, it starts with a woman eating her own organ, but it ends with packs of post-partum hippie mothers roving through Central Park, taking down joggers, and devouring them alive.

    Which is to say, I support this movement.

    Maria, you may have just answered the question of how the Zombie Apocalypse starts!! Nutty New York Placenta eaters!

  141. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm |

    Sorry, I missed the part about human organs. But we did also have a side discussion about Chinese medicine utilizing dried placenta. Does that count?

  142. igglanova
    igglanova March 5, 2012 at 12:45 pm |

    I see we have entered sanctimonious vegan territory. Good show, everyone.

  143. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll March 5, 2012 at 12:48 pm |

    I just don’t eat filter organs. It’s almost like eating poop.

  144. Chiara
    Chiara March 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm |

    You know it’s interesting that nobody is putting any work into synthesizing random meat. Like you key in some random genetic stuff and it cultivates the cells and st, and then it produces some meat, no animals harmed. And then you could have stuff that wasn’t even available with real animals. Like half beef half pork though that would be gross. IMO half chicken half bacon would be alright.

  145. Donna L
    Donna L March 5, 2012 at 12:52 pm |

    I’ve got a lot going on in my life that is probably going to preclude me from doing all of these things that you’re supposed to do to be a good mother (I can, with perfect clarity, envision myself laundering cloth diapers exactly never), and I’m not interested in feeling bad about it and resent the implication that I should

    A lot of the pressure to do this kind of thing has been around for quite some time. For example, before my son was born in 1990, there was already a huge amount of cloth diaper advocacy going on, along with shaming for damaging the environment by using disposable diapers. So my ex and I started off using cloth diapers, a diaper service, and all of that. We lasted a couple of weeks. What a nightmare, even without laundering them ourselves.

  146. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date March 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm |

    What a nightmare, even without laundering them ourselves.

    (We used cloth diapers for two children, with no diaper service, and we didn’t find it a nightmare. It wasn’t even self-sacrificial — it actually saved us time, trouble, and expense, under our specific circumstances. Others’ experiences differ, of course.)

  147. Sandy
    Sandy March 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm |

    we don’t choose our choices in a vacuum.

    I would like to reiterate, again, that this particular article is not about us gullible dirty hippie woo-woo earth mother women subtly or not so subtly pressuring other women to do whatever it is we do. It’s about us not being allowed to choose our choice. It’s about this particular choice is being made for us by others and how, since our choice would be harmless, we’re a little aggrieved about that.

    I am heartened that almost all commenters, whether of the belief that consuming a placenta is totally gross or no big deal, either way support a woman’s right to do it.

    The pressure to parent the One True Way is bogus, I wish it didn’t happen, and I think it is deserving of feminist examination and criticism so long as we’re acknowledging that the pressure comes from both “sides,” mainstream and counter-cultural alike. I say sides in quotes because it’s not a true dichotomy, more like a spectrum. There are even, as Lolagirl mentioned, counter-counter-cultural sources (is there a better term for them? right wing?) like the people who push spanking and physical discipline, which I do not think either the parenting mainstream or the parenting counter-culture accept as good practices.

    Some posters here have commented that they feel unfairly pressured to embrace and be woo-woo crunchy when reproducing and parenting, and others of us have found that being considered woo-woo crunchy is not at all socially acceptable in our social circles and geographical areas.

    This. Or you get it from both sides. Whenever I talk (usually rather cautiously) about my parenting practices, I wonder whether I’m going to be judged for the cosleeping, breastfeeding on demand, planned home birth, placental encapsulation, etc, OR for accepting a labor induction that led to a C-section, not cloth diapering, vaccinating, using formula, using a crib, and not making my own organic baby food but rather going with the stuff that comes in plastic containers. You’re too mainstream for some, too crunchy for others, and with some insecure people, whatever you’re doing differently, you’re doin’ it wrong. You can even get judged for doing the “right” thing for the wrong reason. That, to me, is fucking hilarious. But it sucks, all of it.

    They said that most SSRIs are generally safe during pregnancy (I think Prozac is an exception).

    BUT THE RISKS. Yeah, they all said the anti-depressant (I’m on Wellbutrin) was probably safe to use while nursing, but there could be adverse effects and they needed to make sure I knew that. An anti-depressant should only be taken if the benefits to the woman outweigh the risks to the fetus or baby (but no one could seem to specify to me what those risks were, because there is no actual evidence of harm, just the knowledge of transmission of a certain level of the drug to the baby via breastmilk) so was there any possibility I could leave off taking it for awhile? (I had stopped taking it a couple of weeks before my due date on my own doctor’s advice, so withdrawal was not a concern, just the issue of reintroducing it.) And lots of ‘we won’t tell you to do it, we won’t tell you not to do it.’ The weird part was how many of them wanted to have this conversation with me. You’d think one would have noted in my chart that the subject had been discussed.

  148. Other Miriam
    Other Miriam March 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm |

    Yeah, they all said the anti-depressant (I’m on Wellbutrin) was probably safe to use while nursing, but there could be adverse effects and they needed to make sure I knew that. An anti-depressant should only be taken if the benefits to the woman outweigh the risks to the fetus or baby (but no one could seem to specify to me what those risks were, because there is no actual evidence of harm, just the knowledge of transmission of a certain level of the drug to the baby via breastmilk) so was there any possibility I could leave off taking it for awhile? (I had stopped taking it a couple of weeks before my due date on my own doctor’s advice, so withdrawal was not a concern, just the issue of reintroducing it.) And lots of ‘we won’t tell you to do it, we won’t tell you not to do it.’

    Interesting! I was on Wellbutrin, which I was taken off of while pregnant as soon as the pregnancy was confirmed, and which I was warned Should! Not! be taken while breastfeeding, which started the whole argument I had with the doula and midwife anyway. They were bothered that I wanted the anti-depressants more than the breastfeeding experience, and I kept reiterating that if I or my children were going to have a “parenting experience” that I needed to be present and stable.

    It is a mindfuck that the different medical information you get in basically the same circumstances depends on who’s telling it and to whom they’re telling it.

  149. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm |

    The pressure to parent the One True Way is bogus, I wish it didn’t happen, and I think it is deserving of feminist examination and criticism so long as we’re acknowledging that the pressure comes from both “sides,” mainstream and counter-cultural alike. I say sides in quotes because it’s not a true dichotomy, more like a spectrum.

    I agree, and why all the damn pressure anyway? I no more feel any compunction to garner the approval of my neighbor/MIL/peers than I do the majority of feminists view of the “right way” to reproduce or parent. And that, I firmly believe, is what this should all boil down to, the person doing the reproducing and parenting should be the first and last arbiter of what constitutes the right way.

    There are even, as Lolagirl mentioned, counter-counter-cultural sources (is there a better term for them? right wing?) like the people who push spanking and physical discipline, which I do not think either the parenting mainstream or the parenting counter-culture accept as good practices.

    Unfortunately, stuff like corporal punishment is still considered pretty mainstream around these parts. While my marital unit is non-religious, most of our family and peer group is (although mostly Catholic, not the fundie Pearl type commonly associated with corporal punishment.) Mainstream also includes highly medicalized birth, formula feeding, sleep training at a really early age, starting solids early, and mom staying at home with the kids, among other things. Doing anything outside this mainstream will result in heaps of ridicule and scorn and people gossiping about what a silly pushover of a parent you are, especially if you are the mother part of the equation (shocker, I know.)

  150. chava
    chava March 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm |

    And lots of ‘we won’t tell you to do it, we won’t tell you not to do it.’ The weird part was how many of them wanted to have this conversation with me. You’d think one would have noted in my chart that the subject had been discussed.

    WTF is up with this line? I get this from my OB as well. Look, guys–when I ask you to make a recommendation, MAKE A FREAKING RECOMMENDATION. You have a degree, I don’t. That’s why I’m paying you.

    Most recently they refused to make a recommendation on what I could take for a 4-day migraine, telling me “oh, well, WE can only tell you to take tylenol, but go to the ER, they might give you something,” and flat out refusing to make any sort of suggestions regarding genetic testing.

  151. Emily
    Emily March 5, 2012 at 4:46 pm |

    If I may make my pitch for the anti-mockery position: mockery draws boundaries; we, the mockers, are “in” and you, the subject of mockery are “out.”. I don’t know anyone who likes to hang out in a location where his/her beliefs/practices/opinions are mocked. So mockery polices the boundaries of the Feministe community. I don’t cry over the “top troll” mockery because there is no question that those trolls are useless to the Feministe community and hamper rather than aid discussions here. But mocking women who want their placentas seems to me most likely to make members/allies of this community feel unwelcome. I welcome reasoned feminist critiques of things I do. I don’t appreciate pointless mockery. It just perpetuates the pressure women get from all sides to make the “right” family decisions or be punished by mockery and a basic lack of respect.

    I specifically am not talking about the commenters who have pointed out how an emphasis on the “natural” can oppress women or how pressure to parent a certain way is only cheaper if you don’t value women’s work/time. That’s the difference between criticizing and mocking.

  152. Sandy
    Sandy March 5, 2012 at 7:16 pm |

    It is a mindfuck that the different medical information you get in basically the same circumstances depends on who’s telling it and to whom they’re telling it.

    I could not agree more.

    Adding to that is that the manufacturers’ official statements about drugs are often fairly ambiguous and open to interpretation by care providers. Which isn’t bad, exactly, but it means even more is riding on who your care providers happen to be and how they happen to think about these things.

    WTF is up with this line? I get this from my OB as well. Look, guys–when I ask you to make a recommendation, MAKE A FREAKING RECOMMENDATION.

    I have a sneaking suspicion it has to do with defensive medicine and lawsuits. Because the less opinionated they are about your treatment, the harder they’ll be to sue if something goes awry with it? This statement (and the way they repeated it!) seemed to me to make it clear that they are warning you, however vaguely, about something, going over risks versus benefits and thus giving you all the information available to make a choice. The secondary implicit meaning being: that choice is yours alone and they want no part of the blame if you aren’t happy later with what you chose.

    I’m not sure how a doctor could be held responsible for a medication causing problems, I would think that’d be the manufacturer of the drug… but that’s the impression that that “nope, not gonna say” line made on me.

    I like being the ultimate arbiter of my own health care, but yeah, they’re the professionals and sometimes you go to them for, hey! an opinion.

  153. EG
    EG March 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm |

    It’s like this: if I have to give up mockery of everything except things that are blatantly misogynist, or I have to give up feminism, well, if I can’t mock, it’s not my revolution. So being anti-mockery draws boundaries too.

  154. Donna L
    Donna L March 5, 2012 at 7:42 pm |

    Thanks, Emma. (Although, sadly, I understand that she never actually said it.)

  155. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 5, 2012 at 11:49 pm |

    I don’t know anyone who likes to hang out in a location where his/her beliefs/practices/opinions are mocked.

    Well, I appreciate that everyone has different boundaries or thresholds for this sort of thing. And yeah, mockery can make someone feel unwelcome, especially if ze is really getting piled on and the mockery is focused on “othering” zer.

    But I also think some of this might just depend on one’s social/cultural background. Personally, I’ve usually hung around people who were irreverant and quick to mock anything, including each other. So that’s actually the sort of environment that feels most natural and comfortable for me. Of course, there’s different levels of mockery. . .anywhere from gentle teasing to hateful, enraged denigration. I’m generally OK with receiving anything on the light to moderate end of the intensity spectrum, although there’s certain areas and topics I’m more sensitive about then others.

  156. EG
    EG March 5, 2012 at 11:56 pm |

    But I also think some of this might just depend on one’s social/cultural background.

    Seconded very, very strongly.

  157. Sandy
    Sandy March 6, 2012 at 7:47 am |

    Aww. EG, I want you in my revolution.

  158. Jen in Ohio
    Jen in Ohio March 6, 2012 at 8:31 am |

    Thanks, Emma. (Although, sadly, I understand that she never actually said it.)

    She sure enough did. She just didn’t phrase it like a slogan. She wrote the sentiment out more completely, and I actually prefer the more complete version of it to the slogan. I’m not sure who shortened and sloganized it or when that happened. These are her words, though:

    I became alive once more. At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause.

    I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business, I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for, a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from conventions and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to became a nun and that the movement should not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. “I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.” Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world — prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own closest comrades I would live my beautiful ideal.

    Living My Life, by Emma Goldman, 1931
    page 42 in my copy
    available online

  159. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 6, 2012 at 9:25 am |

    PrettyAmiable, if you can tell the difference between a baby animal drinking the secretion specifically designed for its nutritional needs by millenia of evolution, and members one species drinking the secretions of another–and waaaay past any reasonable age of weaning– then turning round to a fellow species-member and squealing, “You eat placenta? Eww, YUCK!” then I can’t help you.

    Really? You think drinking something designed to fit your nutritional needs by millennia of evolution is totally just like eating waste from your own body that has not been designed to fit your nutritional needs by millennia of evolution is totally the same?

    And the problem here is that you think you can’t help me? Well, yeah. It’s because I don’t listen to people with poorly constructed arguments trying to play gotcha with analogies that make no sense.

  160. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve March 6, 2012 at 9:26 am |

    I think criticizing someone for their initial ‘ick’ reaction is being equally culturally insensitive as criticizing someone for eating placenta. If I spent my whole life in a housing project in New York City, never being afford to travel, I might have an ‘ick’ reaction on finding out that people who live on desert plains on the other side of the world eat rats, as in NY most rats carry disease and are only related by species to their African/Australian opposites. I think the fact that people who have the initial ‘ick’ factor , yet don’t allow that to color their attitude towards others shows that they are indeed being sensitive.

  161. Sandy
    Sandy March 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm |

    I think criticizing someone for their initial ‘ick’ reaction is being equally culturally insensitive as criticizing someone for eating placenta.

    Mmmm. I am pretty sure my split-second first reaction upon learning that people eat placenta was, “Oh my god, gross.” If it wasn’t that, it was, “Oh my god, weird” or “Why would anyone do that?”

    I think the fact that people who have the initial ‘ick’ factor , yet don’t allow that to color their attitude towards others shows that they are indeed being sensitive.

    I agree. I would go even further and say that even after becoming more aware of and perhaps enlightened about practices other then our own, we might still have that gut reaction that something other people consume is gross. I see no problem with that. You can be completely open-minded and accepting and still decide something’s positively icky to you.

    Deriding the people who do or feel otherwise, well, that’s something else.

    The rats are a good example. Or, and this is why I personally feel this way, take entomophagy. Over 1400 species of insects are perfectly good, safe, nourishing, and apparently tasty things to eat. I certainly have no problem with cultures in which insects are considered a valuable and gastronomically pleasurable source of protein. I have no problem with people for eating insects, regardless of their background and culture. I fully support people eating insects if they want to or need to.

    But when I first found out people eat insects and enjoy them, my reaction was most definitely “ew, that is gross.” I think about eating insects now, having learned more about it, having considered it a bit, having been given the gift of candy made with insects (and not as a joke gift), and I still go “ew.” I, personally, cannot get over my revulsion at the idea of eating bugs, however tasty or gourmet or processed or fried or unrecognizable they might be. I know intellectually that eating insects for protein is actually pretty great, it’s much cheaper than beef and better for the environment. And in some places, of course, meat from other sources is not an option. But insects are simply not food to me, and I’m not likely to consider them as an acceptable food unless I am starving. My consciousness may have been raised, but my gut reaction has not changed.

    So it is 100% understandable to me that people might decide initially they think eating placenta is disgusting, and consider the matter thoughtfully and still hold to that opinion, and I think that’s perfectly fine so long as they’re live and let live about it and not tearing people down for holding a different opinion, or indeed, for setting down and indulging in a nice plate of lightly fried cicadas and garlic, or eating a placenta sauteed in olive oil and a splash of wine, or popping a pill filled with dried and ground placenta.

    A handful of people here have said they think eating placenta for perceived heath benefits is a stupid act or for the gullible, and I’m not particularly bothered by that. There’s no hard data on the perceived benefits, opinions are fine, and there’s by and large been support for the people who want to. No one on this thread has said “If you eat placenta, you are a disgusting human being” or “If you eat placenta, you’re probably going to be a terrible parent.” And hey, the people who think it’s stupid probably do something I might think is stupid, but if they’re not hurting anyone, I support their right to do what they want to do in their lives.

    I do wish people wouldn’t be quite so quick to pass judgement when it comes to others’ reproductive and parenting choices, for the reasons I and others have already outlined.

    So… yeah. Tolerance is nice. As someone who totally went “ew” then years later decided to do encapsulation, I don’t think people should be judged harshly either way.

  162. Good stuff on the internet: Part 1 » Gappy Tales

    [...] post here entitled Placenta-Eaters Unite from the website Feministe – although it was the comment section, more than the article [...]

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