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'A Radical Response to Parenting:' Mother Rebel

An interview with Kim Pratt
from Sebago, Maine, USA


by Elke Zobl


April 2004



A mother of four, Kim's zine
Mother Rebel is mostly about parenting. But the zine is much more and includes a comic strip called "Radical Sluts" which is "about a group of women who are tired of the system so they seduce world leaders to get them to perform good deeds" (by Anna), a journal segment on "A Day in the Life of a Mother Rebel", "Mother Rebel Rants",
essays and reviews, artwork and the like. Kim lives with her faimily in Sebago, Maine, USA. She did an email-interview with me in lightening speed - read here what she has to say about how she became inspired to start Mother Rebel and where that journey has taken her as a feminist mother.
 


Can you tell me first of all a little bit about yourself? How old are you, where are you originally from and where do you reside now?
I am the thirty one year old mother of four. My children are Gannon almost ten, Alana seven, Evelyn six and Henry four. I have been married to Frank for over ten years.

My dad was in the military (air force) so we moved around a lot while I was growing up. I was born in Virginia then we moved to England when I was four after that we moved to North Carolina then back to England when I was nine. We lived in rural English villages and my sister and I went to a three room school house for a while. Then we lived on a military base and went to "American school". We have relatives who live over there and we saw them often. My parents took us on trips a lot and we went to London quite frequently. I spent many hours in Londons National Gallery and I had a good school friend who lived in a beautiful village called Orford. There is a famous castle there and we spent hours playing on the castle grounds and inside. When I was thirteen we moved to Texas. The culture shock of going from England to Texas was pretty dramatic although I do have a romantic fascination with cowboys, cowgirls and the Old West. My dad retired from the military when I was eighteen and we moved to his and my mothers home town in Maryland where I met Frank when I was nineteen. He lived next door and I thought he was hot so I went over and seduced him. We have been together ever since. I am not saying that it has been happily ever after or anything. We just made a commitment to one another. At the present we are living in Sebago, Maine in a very rural area.

What do you do besides your zine?
I raise four kids! The three oldest are in public school and I volunteer in their class rooms every week. I also work part time in a natural food store which is woman owned and local. It feels good to be a part of a woman owned, independent business. Frank and I write songs together and I read at every spare moment.

For how long have you been running your zine now? Are you the only editor or is there a team?
Mother Rebel has been around for about two years. I am the only editor although I will sometimes ask Anna, the Radical Sluts creator and writer, for her opinion sometimes. I do the lay out, printing etc myself.


What made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea and the name?

An old friend who now has the zine Are We There Yet and I were really inspired by some of the zines such as East Village Inky and Hip Mama. We were both thinking about doing a zine so we decided to do one together. She was also involved with mamaphonic at the time. We wanted to show that mothers are more than mothers. That we are also political and involved. I also wanted to share my stories about the darker side of mothering. I came up with the name Mother Rebel because I had read that Margaret Sanger had a zine called The Woman Rebel. I just found the fact that she had a feminist zine all those years ago so exciting and inspiring. The original name was supposed to be The Mother Rebel I really wanted to honor our feminist foremothers. Somewhere along the way the The was dropped and it became Mother Rebel instead. My friend and I did the first issue together then decided to do independent projects. I kept Mother Rebel because I had initiated the idea and came up with the name and she started Are We There Yet.

What do you hope to accomplish by making and distributing your zine?
As I said above, I want to let people know that mothers are multi dimensional. In our culture mothers are supposed to do it all and look sexy doing it and that is not reality. Again, I want to show the darker side of mothering. The part that no one talks about.

What topics do you discuss most often in your zine?
There isn't one particular theme. I jump around a lot.

Which role(s) did (and do) zines and zine making (and reading) play for you as you became a mother?
To be honest, just interesting reading. I remember reading an issue of Ben Is Dead while I was pregnant with my first child. My dad saw it during a visit and he told me that I would have to get rid of all my stuff like that. I never did.


What do you love and find challenging about zine making?
I love writing for Mother Rebel and getting my contributors excited about writing. I love the fact that my kids admire and appreciate the fact that I do a zine. Coming up with ideas and discussing them with Anna is a rush.

Having a deadline was a challenge for me. I finally did away with it and now Mother Rebel gets here when it gets here. I also find the rejection and negative feedback challenging. I am only just now recognizing that it is Mother Rebel being rejected and not me personally. Separating the two was hard. I am also starting to realize the positive aspect of negative feedback, it means I have pressed someone's buttons.

What are some of the zines you read and admire?
Gulk by Tim Hoffman, A Beautiful Final Tribute by Bee Lavender, Create Me Free by Kathryn, Figure 8, Four Letter Word, Burn In Hell Buddy, Assassin And The Whiner, Hermana Resis There are lots.


What advice would you give to a mother who wanted to start a zine?
Do it and don't worry.

Do you feel part of a zine community or network and what does it mean to you?
I am a member of the grrrlzine network. It is a good way to find out about new zines or new zine issues. It is nice to be a part of a zine loving community.

Do you consider grrrl zines as an important part of a social movement? Do you think zines can effect meaningful social and political change at large?
Yes yes and yes.

What were some of main influences that have empowered you (punk/feminism/zines/friends…?) in your life?
All of the above. I also have to include my parents as an influence because they never censored literature. We were allowed to read anything we wanted as long as we were reading.

Which role does play the Internet for you?
I am pretty low tech, but the internet has made it possible for me to get Mother Rebel out in a way I could not have otherwise. Also it has given me the ability to connect with other zinesters.

Do you define yourself as a feminist? What are the most pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life (as a woman/mother/feminist)?
I am a feminist. One of the most pressing and disturbing issues that I am confronted with is women telling me that I can not be a feminist because I am a stay at home mother as though because I am at home hanging out with Henry my mind stops working. There seems to be this backlash against mothers all of a sudden. I was recently reading Bust magazine when I came across a letter to the editor that said stay at home mothers can not be independent and don't want to work. The letter was really closed minded and offensive. I am committed to raising feminist, independent children. Just because I stay at home with my kids it doesn't mean that I have turned into a bumbling moron. As women we need to support one another even if one woman's choice differs from our own.

What do you think about feminism today? Do you see yourself as part of "Third Wave Feminism" and if yes, what does it mean to you? Or why not?
I appreciate the feminism of today. You can like make up and getting your hair done and still be feminist. I do think of myself as part of "Third Wave Feminism" because I am part of this generation. In the book Manifesta Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards say that "feminism wants you to be whoever you are - but with a political consciousness". I agree with that.

Can you see any unique contributions grrrl zines may have made to the feminist and trans liberation movement?
The written word is very powerful. You can touch someones life just by sharing your experience. It can help another see that they are not alone.

Email Kim at:

momrebel [AT] localnet.com

 


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