Grab your popcorn for Ijeoma Oluo’s amazing story about pumping at work and her ‘breastmilk bowl’
If you’ve ever had to pump breastmilk at your workplace, then this Twitter thread is for you. Writer Ijeoma Oluo was inspired to share her own personal tale of workplace pumping woe, and be warned — it’s a doozy.
But it’s also the kind of story literally every working, pumping mom can relate to because it doesn’t matter how progressive we think we are as a society, there is always that One Person™ you work with (usually someone with a penis) who finds it “offensive.”
Oluo’s story takes place awhile ago, back before workplaces were required to offer designated, sanitary places for breastfeeding employees to pump (spoiler alert: we’ve still got a long way to go on that one, even in 2018). The content of her thread, however, is extremely relatable.
I came back to work after I had my son & pretty much stuck to myself, so lunch wasn't a social thing to me.— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) March 30, 2018
Especially since I was a breastfeeding mom.
This place was so NOT breastfeeding parent friendly that after complaining about how it was not acceptable for them to expect me to pump milk in the bathroom stall, they just put a curtain over the closet where they kept the bathroom cleaning supplies and were like "HERE"— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) March 30, 2018
UGH. WHY ARE EMPLOYERS LIKE THIS.
So every lunch I would spend the 30 minutes on a stool, facing the corner, in a closet with nothing but a curtain to separate me from everyone walking by.— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) March 30, 2018
Every single day someone would open the curtain wondering what the noise was & then they'd yell "JESUS" like I pranked them
After each lunchtime pumping sesh, Oluo says she would take her supplies to the breakroom sink to wash them out and store her milk. She says every single day, without fail, she’d endure complaints about it, because people have some serious Freudian issues about breastmilk being out in the open I guess?
Like no, guys, it’s not jizz. It’s the literal nourishment breastfed babies need to live — oh, and also THE ONLY REASON WHY WE HAVE FUCKING BREASTS.
And this dude Rich would complain every day about how disturbing it was. "Bodily fluids.." blah blah blah.— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) March 30, 2018
He was this gross conservative woman-hating asshole with a severe buzz cut.
Because of course he was a woman-hating asshole. When it’s not some pearl-clutching prude, it’s always the women-hating assholes who do this.
But then one day I came out of my pumping closet & went to grab the bowl that I use for transferring my milk and cleaning my equipment was missing from my cubicle. Like, the cleaning supplies were dumped out on my desk & bowl was gone.— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) March 30, 2018
So I'm like, shit. I can't get this milk in the fridge & my equipment sanitized without this bowl. And I search up and down the aisles of cubicles.— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) March 30, 2018
And Rich is fucking eating popcorn out of it.
Hoo, Richie boy, are you and your buzz cut in for a real treat.
I was like, "Rich, that's my bowl."— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) March 30, 2018
He's like, "Well, I didn't know it was YOUR bowl specifically." All smarmy like I'm being unreasonable.
I'm like, "Dude, you literally took it off my desk."
He says, "I use it all the time. It's no big deal. You never even noticed."— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) March 30, 2018
I was like, "STOP EATING OUT OF MY BREASTMILK BOWL DUDE."
And he immediately started choking on his popcorn.
He was like, "A BREASTMILK BOWL ISN'T A THING WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT."— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) March 30, 2018
I was like, "Dude, you see me use this bowl every single fucking day. You bitch & moan while I use this bowl to transfer my breastmilk & clean my equipment."
OMG. Dead. Dying. D-E-A-D.
"AND YOU LITERALLY DUMPED MY BOTTLES AND CLEANING BRUSHES OUT OF THE BOWL IN ORDER TO USE IT."— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) March 30, 2018
Dude looked like he was going to die right there.
So then he's hell flustered and looks around at his teammates & is like, "Well, did you all know it was a breastmilk bowl?"— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) March 30, 2018
And I shit you not, everybody around him said "YUP" with shiteating grins on their faces.
YES RICH LITERALLY EVERYONE KNEW.
So then he just handed me my bowl and stormed out and was gone for like an hour. Everybody started laughing their asses off the moment he left.— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) March 30, 2018
And he never touched my shit again.
Oh man, this story is better than gold. Better than the liquid gold that caused this entire debacle in the first place, even. Why is it always men who cause the biggest stink about breastfeeding moms and pumping?
Plenty of nursing moms are probably reading through Oluo’s thread, nodding — I know I am. When I went back to work, my super progressive, super swanky advertising agency offered me the use of a dusty, musty handicapped restroom to pump in. The problem with that (aside from the fact that it was a dirty bathroom with no stall, just a toilet and a chair) was that it was apparently the Designated Shitter for every guy in I.T.
And boy, were they put out by the fact that once I returned to work, they had to waddle their dirty jeans all the way down to the eight-stall bathroom meant for able-bodied, non-nursing men. But that didn’t stop them from taking dumps in the handicapped bathroom, where I had to pretend tiny poop particles weren’t getting into my baby’s breastmilk. They harassed me about it through email, passive-aggressive comments, and even BY SCRIBBLING SIGNS ON THE DOOR to deter me from using their precious pooping space. Two years later, and I’m still livid every time I think about it.
Moral of the story: sometimes, men are the worst. Especially when it comes to women’s bodies, and mothers they work with. If this compels you to pipe up with “not all men,” go ahead and make like Buzz Cut Rich and see yourself out.