Kate Parfet on Normalizing Reproductive Health Taboos
Photography by Dimanche Creative
Meet Kate Parfet, an author and advocate for reproductive health whose recently published book, "Milking a Duck," explores the complex realities of motherhood while advocating for more open conversations about reproductive health. With a focus on individual experiences and the importance of advocating for oneself, Kate hopes to spark conversations that normalize reproductive health taboos.
In this interview, we have the privilege of getting to know Kate on a more personal level as we visit her home in LA. As she shares her insights on personal style, motherhood, and reproductive health advocacy, we catch a glimpse of her personal sanctuary.
describe your style in four words.
What would (Grandma) Betty do.
Tell us the story behind your favorite wardrobe piece.
I inherited my grandmother’s smokey blue, knee length suede coat. She had it made to measure in the ’60’s, in Rome. When I wear it, I like to imagine her strolling through Piazza Navona after a late dinner with my grandfather. She embodied simple elegance.
Tell us more about your new book. What inspired you to write "Milking a Duck”?
Milking a Duck is a representation of the female experience, and more specifically motherhood, recognizing all mother stories as both universal and singularly unique. Drawing on my own experiences with IVF, an exploration of the ways in which politics, medicine, and society shape the motherhood experience inspired me to write this book.
What message do you hope readers take away from the book?
We need to be more open, to share more, in order to educate and support each other. I hope to spark conversations that look past one-size-fits-all motherhood narratives and start normalizing reproductive health taboos.
How did you incorporate art into the book to convey the experiences of individual mothers?
Along the lines of mother stories being both universal and singularly unique, I invited a group of friends to explore these complex realities through drawings, graphics, and photographs, bringing a new dimension to the text. Some of the book’s subject matter is quite heavy, so adding imagery allowed space for reflection.
Humor and tenderness are important themes throughout your book, "Milking a Duck." How do they factor into the book's exploration of motherhood?
The phrase, Milking a Duck, is an idiom that references an impossible task, and that’s what my journey towards motherhood has felt like at times. I wanted to bring some levity to the situation, as my partner and I have worked hard to maintain our relationship through laughter. I’ve had so much input and advice from friends, family, doctors, nurses, surgeons etc., so boiling all that down to a ridiculous idiom felt right.
Why is it important to openly discuss misrepresentation and oppressive figures in the context of motherhood?
We need not look further than the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v Wade to understand the degree to which women’s health issues are stigmatized and devalued. Only after fertility enters the equation do diseases like Endometriosis or P.C.O.S. suddenly become compelling, but even then, the focus is on enabling us as women to fulfill the societal expectation to make babies. This has to change.
What advice would you give to others who are navigating the complexities of motherhood and reproductive health?
Advocate for yourself and persist. Only continue on with doctors you trust. Really dig into your insurance plan. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network for recommendations and support.
What's a small way you've introduced sustainability into your lifestyle?
Friends are always surprised to discover my small closet. Call it conscious or obsessive compulsive, but I feel best with less. I think the natural editor in me comes from my mother. Can I breathe comfortably in these pants? Will I wear these shoes more than once? I love a good clothes swap or donation.
What does it mean to be a modern woman?
Exercising the right to lead a healthy, productive life, independent of societal pressures and expectations.
Name a few places you source inspiration from in LA.
Moon Canyon, Sea View Lane, and The Self Realization Fellowship atop Mount Washington.
What affirmation are you living by today?
My body, my choice.