Category Archives: Feminism

Call for Research Participants: Full Spectrum & Radical Doulas

Below is my call for participants for an ethnographic research project on full spectrum doulas and radical doulas.  For more info or to participate, contact or (970) 210-7156.  Please distribute!


Dear Doulas,

My name is Laurel Ripple Carpenter, and I am conducting research on doulas who are expanding their identity and practice to encompass pregnancy outcomes other than birth, including abortion, stillbirth, miscarriage, and adoption. 

I am looking to interview people involved in this movement, often called ‘full spectrum doulas’ or ‘radical doulas.’  Participants should be doulas who are either currently practicing, have practiced in the past, or are in training, and who identify as radical, pro-choice, or as a part of the full spectrum doula community.  Certification status, geographical location and other characteristics are not of particular concern.

I am asking participants to join me for a one hour interview via Skype video chat.  The interview will be recorded and used as data for a short ethnography in Spring 2011, and then expanded into a thesis length ethnography in 2012-2013.  The work may be published in various forms in the future.  If material from your interview is used in the ethnography, you will be given a pseudonym.

This research is part of my work for a degree in the Anthropology of Reproduction at Burlington College, in consortium with faculty at Mesa State College.  You can learn more about me here, and contact me directly at or (970) 210-7156 to participate.

I look forward to meeting you!

Laurel Ripple Carpenter, CD(DONA), PES


Gendered Language in this Safe Space

This post originally appeared today at the Full Spectrum Doula Network, so the language is directed toward that particular community.  But the message applies to the larger reproductive health community as well–and is a key element to the work we have to do to create an inclusive movement that fully represents the vibrance and diversity of this world.

One of the core goals of this community is to create a safe space for the full spectrum of doulas and other reproductive health workers.  For transgender or genderqueer folks working in the reproductive health world, part of feeling safe is not being asked to constantly, on a minute-to-minute basis, identify within the conventional gender binary of male and female–and not constantly, on a minute-to-minute basis, having your gender assumed as female because of your work as a doula or midwife.

This post is just a gentle nudge to remind folks here that your language matters.  To remind folks that part of creating a safe space lies in challenging ourselves to change our behaviors that might be alienating or denigrating to folks we really don’t mean to oppress.

Here, in this safe space, you don’t have to be a ‘lady’ or a ‘she’ or a ‘woman’ (or even a ‘womyn’ for that matter) to be a doula or a midwife or an advocate.

Many of us have talked about how Continue reading

this is THE conference to be at. see you there!

The annual conference ‘From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom’ is the closest thing to a major radical reproductive rights conference out there.  I suspect that a good number of you have already been to it before, and I’ll be there in April 2011.  Come! 

Every year 1,000+ reproductive health advocates gather for an Abortion Speakout, plus workshops on incredible topics like:

  • Expanding the Doula Model of Care: Training and Being Abortion Doulas
  • Abortion Care
  • Abortion Access Internationally 
  • Abortion Funding and Access in the U.S. 
  • Mothers Among Us 
  • Empowering Birth 
  • Politics of Family Creation 
  • Healthcare for All
  • Translating the Gender Landscape: Creating Awareness and Activism 
  • Trans Feminism
  • Beyond the Gender Binary: A Trans 101
  • Blogging for Reproductive Justice
  • Self-Help/Self-Exams
  • Demystifying Reproductive Health
  • International Reproductive Rights Roundtable 
  • Organizing for Health Care Access

These workshops are from last year, but this year’s schedule promises to be even more ridiculously great–it’s the conference’s 30th anniversary.  It’s hosted by the Civil Liberties & Public Policy program at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. 

The real kicker is that this amazing event is free.  Yeah, I said free.  So, no cost for the conference, plus a bunch of meals are included, plus free transportation around the area, means this is probably one of the most accessible (as well as the most fly) conferences around. 

So join me!  Come and share and learn and grow and network!  Who’s in?

Beginning a Thesis on Full Spectrum Doulas

It’s 2am and I’m huddled in a blanket in my basement, typing furiously with my computer setup on my laundry table and the noise of the furnace blasting in my ear.  And I’m excited.

I think I need a desk

Excited because the paper I’m finishing up right now is an analysis of the beginning research I’ve been conducting on my senior thesis topic, the burgeoning evolution of the full spectrum doula movement.

I remind myself all the time how ridiculously lucky I am to be finishing my BA in a program that’s allowed me to design my own Anthropology of Reproduction degree, and to be working independently with Robbie Davis-Floyd as my faculty this semester.  If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be sitting in this basement writing this paper right now, I would’ve rolled my eyes.

But here I am, and I’m so excited, and I’m so grateful, and I’m so overwhelmed.  One of the catches with working so closely with world-renowned faculty is that you can’t fuck up.  You have to be and do great.

I think I need a desk instead of a laundry table.  Wish me luck.

Announcing the Full Spectrum Doula Network!

There are unique challenges to being pro-choice, feminist, queer, or a person of color in a doula world that is predominantly none of those things. seeks to change that!

This website is a brand new online networking community for Full Spectrum Doulas and Radical Doulas. Create a profile (don’t worry, it’s all free!) and take a look around–there are forums, blogs, photos, videos, and event announcements, all filled with engaging information.  From critical analysis of the state of reproductive health care, to processing and debriefing from your experiences as a doula, to weekly blogs on placenta medicine and herbs for reproductive health. is the place to develop your understanding of doula support and create community with other radical reproductive health advocates.

The intent of is to create a safe space to share insight and experiences of our work within the whole continuum of reproductive health care. This site also serves to build community within the radical doula movement, embracing the diversity of our own personal identities as doulas and reproductive health advocates.

Let’s get this radical doula party started!  Check out the website, and consider doing the following:

1) Post about yourself in the ‘Introductions’ forum
2) Add yourself to the ‘Member Map’
3) Upload Photos & Videos – of your amazing birth experience, you with clients, your volunteer doula group doing a training, etc.
4) Comment on or add a Blog Post
5) MOST IMPORTANTLY, Participate in a few discussions in the Forums, or post a couple new ones, etc.  This is where the real action is!
6) Join or start a Group
7) Add Events

Please disseminate this announcement far & wide!  Forward, re-post, blog about it, and join us on Facebook.

FSDN’s current sponsor is Confluence Media Collective, an independent radical publisher.  We need more sponsors!  For a $30 donation, sponsors have their ad/logo and link placed on the site for a month.  Please consider sponsoring this fantastic community resource.

Falling for ‘The L Word’

Please don’t tell my boss, my partner, my professors, or anyone else for that matter, but in the past week I’ve watched a season and a half of The L Word. And I think I’m in love.

Where in the world can you listen to three full minutes of women throwing back & forth different names for the cunt on a major television network?  The very end of episode 1, season 3, that’s where.

And yes, I am full aware of the pettiness of this post, and the obnoxious, disgusting privilege of the women in this show.  But I’m also stricken by how good it feels to watch nine lesbians just be out there in the world as beautiful, hip, successful, socially acceptable AND socially rejected women. 

I love knowing that my father could be flipping through the channels and might happen to end up on this show without realizing it.  I love that there are young queer girls in their bedrooms somewhere out there in the Midwest studying this show as an introduction to their own sexuality.

I clearly missed the boat when this show came out in 2004, seeing as I’ve never had cable or satellite in my life.  But now I can watch all the L Word I want on Netflix.  A blessing for me, but probably not so much for my boss or my partner.  Remember, folks, there are only six seasons, so the marathon will be over soon.

Rape Condom: Oppressive to Women?

I never thought I’d see the day when a female condom with teeth would be marketed as an anti-rape device.

The day is here, and it’s inspiring!  Inspiring and…concerning?

Critics of the Rape-aXe condom are concerned about placing the burden of rape prevention on women, as well as the risk of the attacker using increased violence in response to the condom. 

It’s also a form of “enslavement,” said Victoria Kajja, a fellow for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the east African country of Uganda. “The fears surrounding the victim, the act of wearing the condom in anticipation of being assaulted all represent enslavement that no woman should be subjected to.” Continue reading