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This custom is or was once on every continent, and I am about curious on your take about it? Not every society had it, but it was present on 17% of societies.

the father of the child, seemingly instead of the mother, lies in bed, looks weak, fasts, and is attended by the women, in short, behaves just as if he were the person who had given birth to the child and were suffering pains.

https://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/cultures/si07/documents/002

Missionary were really negative about these customs which you can see from this example

I discovered that a case of couvade occurred in Elbasan on January 28th, 1924. A certain Gjon Pal Poplekaj, a Roman Catholic belonging to the tribe of Dushmen in North Albania, had come to work in Elbasan and married an Orthodox girl from that town. On the birth of their first child, Margarita, the Orthodox women went to congratulate the mother and to their horror found the husband in bed beside her on the floor. ‘It made us feel very shy,’ (na erth shum turp) my informants say. His mother-in-law, who had no doubt been scandalized enough herself, explained that he was following the custom of his distant tribe…Unhappily the good folk of Elbasan so laughed at the man that he has not dared to do couvade at subsequent births, and even denies that he did so at Margarita's. His mother-in-law also denies his doing so, though both know how many Orthodox women caught him in the act, and what an outcry it caused. There is thus no hope of extracting an explanation of the custom from him or her. Perhaps some old woman in Dushmen might be more communicative.

https://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=searchFullContext&col=collection(%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Europe/EG01%27)&docId=eg01-016&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

This custom is or was once on every continent, and I am about curious on your take about it? Not every society had it, but it was present on 17% of societies. > the father of the child, seemingly instead of the mother, lies in bed, looks weak, fasts, and is attended by the women, in short, behaves just as if he were the person who had given birth to the child and were suffering pains. https://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/cultures/si07/documents/002 **Missionary were really negative about these customs which you can see from this example** > I discovered that a case of couvade occurred in Elbasan on January 28th, 1924. A certain Gjon Pal Poplekaj, a Roman Catholic belonging to the tribe of Dushmen in North Albania, had come to work in Elbasan and married an Orthodox girl from that town. On the birth of their first child, Margarita, the Orthodox women went to congratulate the mother and to their horror found the husband in bed beside her on the floor. ‘It made us feel very shy,’ (na erth shum turp) my informants say. His mother-in-law, who had no doubt been scandalized enough herself, explained that he was following the custom of his distant tribe…Unhappily the good folk of Elbasan so laughed at the man that he has not dared to do couvade at subsequent births, and even denies that he did so at Margarita's. His mother-in-law also denies his doing so, though both know how many Orthodox women caught him in the act, and what an outcry it caused. There is thus no hope of extracting an explanation of the custom from him or her. Perhaps some old woman in Dushmen might be more communicative. https://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=searchFullContext&col=collection(%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Europe/EG01%27)&docId=eg01-016&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

21 comments

It's a ritualised version of "man becomes sulky because he's not the centre of attention when his wife gives birth."

Or "man goes trans because he's not the centre of attention when his wife is pregnant."

Things I wonder: Were these the most or least chauvinistic societies? I am guessing probably the former? In societies where it was practiced, how universal was it?

I can see it as possibly even serving a positive purpose, for men to get the childish attention seeking bullshit out of their systems and adjust to responsibilities as a father. But most likely it was just to reinforce male dominance and make sure that even in childbirth women aren't prioritised.

Were these the most or least chauvinistic societies? I am guessing probably the former?

I'm also guessing the former. It's a ritualized version of what men are doing today in our age of misogynistic backlash,-- fathers claiming to have postpartum depression and similar ridiculousness.

I wonder. If it were socially normal for men today to get petted and soothed and allowed to be helpless for a period when their kids were born, would we have as many who decide they're dainty ladies as soon as parental obligations arise?

But that is exactly the time when they should be stepping up to look after the mother of their child. A lot of men *do *become whiny helpless babies when their kids are born and it's the most fucked up thing in the world, the woman is at the most vulnerable and tired and stressed she's ever been and she has to look after her husband with "postnatal depression" as well as a newborn.

I can see that a lot of men do have a "need" to be fussed over and petted, and a lot of shitty male behaviour is explained that way, including the behaviour I just described. Maybe they need to go to spas and groom each other like apes or something. But however they meet that need they shouldn't be doing it just after childbirth!

Am I contradicting myself? Maybe, but I think allowing this kind of thing to happen in the liminal space of a ritual could conceivably work but letting it leak into daily life would be terrible!

Of course they should be! However in traditional societies all of this birthing stuff would be exclusionary of males anyway and other women would be dealing with the work of it.

If it were a ritual in which the man "births" his own adult responsible self, I wonder if it would help at all?

I like the mental image of men grooming each other like apes!

However, it made me aware of something : childbirth is also about community - women coming together. Men are no good at this. They hardly ever organize nice things /events for each other.

"If we as a society cared and let men get away with more will they ever treat us with respect and care more about their offspring?" Are you kidding me? How more coddled men should get????!!

[–] crodish 15 points Edited

Isn't there something called Couvade symptom (which is probably where it got its name from, Couvade?) where the father experiences a phantom pregnancy along with his wife that can include back pains, false "contractions" (idk where) and sometimes even "a baby" kicking? I used to think it was sympathetic pains but now I realize it's just men's bullshit coming out so strongly it became its own term, just like transgirl periods uwu

There was a different ritual where when a wife was giving birth, a rope or something would be tied to the man's testicles and she would yank on it everytime she experienced a contraction so he could really experience the pain with her. We need to bring that back. Like in law, not even optional spiritual namaste shit. The world population would nosedive

I can understand the POV of the missionary. It's not the man's job to pretend to be ill next to his wife who actually went through giving birth. A man pretending to "give birth" is just taking up resources that should be focused on the actual mother.

Very interesting, especially given how universal this apparently was. Personally, I think it's due to "birthing envy" - i always felt that penis envy is quite sketchy and it is the other way round.

The "warding off evil spirits" is a big thing - I work with refugees and some ethnic groups have quite a lot of traditions surrounding a newborn to ward off spirits. One time I was asked to provide a knife because it was necessary, according to their superstition, to put a knife in bed with the newborn to keep evil spirits away. The Nigel (southern Italian) uses pet names such "little ugly" - the superstition being, that spirits/the devil will not be interested then.

The Nigel (southern Italian) uses pet names such "little ugly"

Sgorbietto?

It wasn't the most common custom, but all continents had multiple groups of people that practiced it. Personally I feel like it was more common, but like above I mentioned missionary had extremely negative opinion of this custom.

Kind of reminds me of the Handmaid's Tale, but not. Don't know how to describe the way this makes me feel.

If you replaced the infertile wives with TIMs (and allowed them to rape the handmaids along with the husbands), sounds just like that DailyDot writer's wet dream.

I’ve heard that some tribes in the Amazon practice this, but I’d never heard that name for it. It’s not so much the man lying in bed looking weak as standing outside screaming in pain while the mother gives birth inside.

This sounds to me like examples of male fragility. Men don't like not being the center of attention during women's pregnancy. Some of them become violent over it, some of them apparently fake illnesses for sympathy.