Thanks to Doulicia, I just stumbled upon a new blog, written by a male doula named Matt. I wanted to give him a shout out, and refer you all over to read his thoughts if you are interested. I think being a male doula (and a gay male one at that) deserves a radical doula mention.
I have thought often about this idea of male doulas and midwives, particularly because of my own thoughts about the gender binary. The argument among the doula and midwifery community that doulas can connect with women simply by being women themselves has always troubled me, as it implies some sort of intrinsic female-connection. What does that imply about women’s brains?
I think being a doula is about listening, and connecting with someone, and learning what kind of support they need. Just like I don’t think you need to be a mother to be a doula (I know some people would disagree), I don’t think you need to identify as a woman. Each person has to choose a doula they feel comfortable with, and with whom they can connect.
Keep on trucking Matt.
Thank you. 🙂
I have to admit that I’m guilty of some of this bias– I personally loathe going to a male gynecologist. But all women definitely have different preferences, and I think that any person who is in the field of women’s health deserves applause. There aren’t enough of you! Rock on, Matt!
I’m personally really conflicted about this. I want to educate myself and remain open minded, but I have hard enough time believing that women who themselves have never given birth make good birth attendants. Yes I agree, the gender binary sucks, but would you be equally happy with, say, a man leading menstruation parties? My fear is that it’s another way of men usurping women’s spirituality, the last time that happened women ended up getting burned. Literally. Still I want to hear what he has to say, so I’ve got some more blog reading to do.
I never got this particular bias. Somehow, I see this bias as demeaning to women, instead of making birth a powerful rite of passage, I see this-“only mothered women can be acceptatble attendants to laboring women”, thus making this work less than and women’s work, and we all know how women’s work gets demeaned in this society. Why shouldn’t men who are kind, compassionate, good listeners, calm, and attentive be doulas also? We never quibble with clients when they tell us that they have a male obsectrician as their other birth attendant, or we shouldn’t. But somehow, when it comes to being a labor doula it’s all about direct personal experience of pushing a kid out of your vaginia. If that was the criteria, almost half the doulas I know would be disqualifed, as they had full, medicalized births, in fact the most popular doula had 3 c-sections, and let me tell you, she makes her clients sign contracts that if they get pain medication or go for the c-section she will leave them to their own devices. After reading Matt’s blog, I can’t see him doing that.
I don’t see this usurping women’s spirituality, and I also suggest that you do some historical reading on exactly why women got burned at the stake, it wasn’t because of their spirituality, in fact most women burnt at the stake were godfearing christians common folk who had been put to death due to property issues and petty jealousies of other common folk/villiagers who needed to feel powerful and wanted the lovely public spectacle of a burning or hanging. Not much TV back in those days, so firing up the old fagot(Medieval term for that hay bale thing they used to start the burnin, not the insultg) was very exciting.
I am a witch, but people who just spout off historical inaccuracies and fallacies even when it can cast witch-women/women’s spirituality in a victimizing positive light, I just can’t let it stand. Stop reading Walker and Gimbutas, and get into some 21st century anthropology, please, it’s so embarrassing to have such statements such as “women were burned at the stake when they couldn’t cavort at full moon rituals or pass out healing herbs”, next you will be telling millions of women died at the hands of the church during the burning times, sheer demographics makes that a total myth.
And, now, I won’t visit this idea of the “burning times” again as I don’t want to derail the conversation from the great gender binary discussion. If you would like to continue the discussion off here, please email me at rowanleigh AT FASTMAIL DOT FM