From the “Technician Thing” to the “Mental Game”: Masculinity and U.S. Homebirth

Previous research on pregnancy and birth from the perspective of men has found that men approach them from the perspective of hegemonic masculinity, though many find that hospital birth is a time of potential failure at masculinity. In this qualitative study of 11 men who had children born at home, I find that, like their hospital-birth counterparts, they find roles in their partners’ pregnancies and early labors that are congruent with hegemonic masculinity. In ways that converge and diverge with the experience of hospital-birth fathers, they find their masculinity disrupted as the birth approaches, becoming nurturers and servers rather than technicians and protectors. These acts shift them from the masculinity of a young man to that of a father. This is consonant with Connell’s (1995) theory that masculinity is not singular, but shifts situationally and across the life course, and Butler’s (2003) theory that gender is constructed through acts.

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