McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Beza Merid

Major and Classification

Psychology, Comparative Literature

Faculty Mentors

  • Professor Gloria Orenstein

Department

  • Comparative Literature

McNair Project

"Erasing Couvade: Accounting For Change In Interpretive Trends"

The couvade is a practice found globally, involving ritualized behaviors performed by men in tribal societies throughout a woman's pregnancy and just after she gives birth. Anthropologists have offered a variety of interpretations of this ritual, suggesting it may have fended off malevolent spirits or established social paternity. The two trends that appear most frequently in the literature, however, are those of couvade as a manifestation of womb envy and, as of the mid 1990s, couvade as an act of co-parenthood and spiritual connection. This paper will explore this change in interpretive trends and attempt to bring to light the forces at work, which effectively erase envy-couvade from cultural memory- particularly modern transgender theories and the New Men's Movement.