Audience Education Volunteer Jorie Slodki's, Between the Lines is a regular feature on this blog. Between the Lines gives theatre goers the inside scoop into productions at Riverside Theatre with short, factual essays including playwright biographies, production histories and historical context and references. Today Jorie tells us about the history of the "man-cave", the setting for Sean Christopher Lewis' new play, Manning Up, and explains the role of the doula, a birthing assistance which the character Donnie and his wife have enthusiastically employed to prepare for the birth of their first child.
From left: Martin Andrews as Raymond & Jim Van Valen as Donnie in "Manning Up" at Riverside Theatre. Photo by Bob Goodfellow.
Do you have memories of your father keeping a room to himself to pursue his hobbies? A garage for fixing up cars . . . a den for stamp collecting . . . a basement turned into a makeshift workout facility. These rooms still exist, but today they have a much wider focus and a new name. Behold . . . the MAN CAVE.
A man cave (also known as a “manspace” or “mantuary”) is a room that has been designated by a man as his space in the house—presumably because his wife or girlfriend has control over the rest of the house. They might be decorated with posters of the man’s favorite movies and sports teams and contain the man’s hobbies, such as video game consoles and musical instruments. There might also be seating so that the man can hang out with his friends on weekends.
The man’s aesthetic choices emphasize that this is a space where he can go and be himself, without being judged, and have time alone. Psychologist Steve Brody said, "Separate time is important. A good relationship has both intimacy and independence. Man caves may just be the 21st-century wrinkle to it."
Though men have always kept up a separate space for their hobbies, the term “man cave” has only been in use within the last several years. Today, there are entire businesses focused on outfitting the perfect man cave. One man even designed his man cave to be a replica of the bridge of the Enterprise from Star Trek.
Such devotion to fixing up the space can create problems in a relationship. A man can isolate himself in his personal space, leaving his wife or girlfriend feeling left-out or unappreciated. Brody noted, “The man cave in many instances can be more harmful than helpful because it develops distance, it establishes a barrier, and people take it personally.”
What is the solution? Writer and handyman Sam Martin notes that any area can serve as a man cave—even an easy chair and a pair of headphones. The important thing is that relationship partners agree on boundaries, and both maintain a balance of relationship time with personal time.
From left: Jim Van Valen as Donnie & Martin Andrews as Raymond in "Manning Up" at Riverside Theatre. Photo by Bob Goodfellow.
The term “doula” was first used in its current context in 1973 and comes from the ancient Greek word meaning “female servant/slave.” A doula is a non-medical professional who provides physical, emotional, and informational assistance to a woman in labor and post-partum. Unlike doctors and midwives, who serve the needs of both the mother and the coming baby, a doula is entirely focused on the needs of the mother. Some forms of support she can provide include:
- Physically supporting the mother in a birth position
- Providing information on what the medical professionals are doing
- Talking to the mother in a soothing manner
- Speaking up on the mother’s behalf to the medical team
The mother-to-be usually finds a doula in the eighth month of pregnancy. There is no central governing body to provide certification for doulas, but several organizations exist to provide training and credentials, such as Doulas of North America (DONA). Doulas might be connected with a hospital, or working in their own private practices.
Studies show that continuous care from a doula during labor is associated with positive childbirth outcomes, such as shorter labors and fewer medical interventions. The recent emergence of the field and lack of oversight, however, have lead to “turf battles” between doulas and medical teams. Some doctors fear that doulas can interfere with the medical team’s actions, and some hospitals even ban doulas.
Before selecting a doula, a mother-to-be should do careful research among the options in her area. She should ask questions about training, experience, and credentials. She should interview potential doulas in person, seeing if their personalities and philosophies are a good match. Ultimately, she should go with someone who makes her feel comfortable—this is a field where compatibility is just as important as experience.
To learn more about doulas and DONA, CLICK HERE.
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