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UNCLE RHESUS, AUNTIE PACHYDERM, AND MOM: ALL SORTS AND KINDS OF MOTHERING DANA RAPHAEL, Ph.D.* The eponym "auntie" presently stands for the relationship between an adult female with a gravid female, new mother, or newborn of the same species. The term leads a double life. On the one hand, we are thoroughly amused in academia at the thought of elephant or langur aunties or dear aunt rhesus. On the other hand, we use it in all scientific seriousness to express an observable behavior and a relationship. And here is the rub. Once we have had our laugh, the term ceases to be funny or useful. In fact, it clarifies nothing about the behavior it purports to describe. Why is it so unacceptable? Mainly because the human kinship term "aunt" implies real or fictive kin—"blood" or affinal ties—and because it indicates certain rights and obligations which go with certain roles that specific people carry out with specified persons. The term must go. It is used to describe non-human animals where blood ties most frequently cannot be demonstrated, where affinity certainly cannot be, and where duty and demand are out of the question. Moreover, discrimination ofnon-human adult females of Clan A versus adult females ofClan B—monkey or ape—has yet to be reported. Descriptions of"aunt" behavior have included activities ofadult rhesus females toward infants [i, 2] as well as interaction between adult females in the absence ofany infant as, for example, when a female or two attend a pregnant elephant [3]. Further, the expression ofthis behavior can and has been seen in males, compounding the sin, for it negates one of the few definitive statements that can be made about "aunts," namely, that they are not "uncles." * Present address: 666 Sturges Highway (Fairfield), P.O. Westport, Connecticut 06880. I am grateful to Mrs. Eleni Rassius for bringing the term doula to my attention, and to Professor John Rassius and Mr. P. S. Stergianopoulos for the analysis of the Greek terms. 290 Dana Raphael · Kinds ofMothering Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Winter 1969 Ifwe throw out this nomenclature, what can be used in its stead? The answer is that several terms will be necessary. This is a multidimensional phenomenon spanning a wide range ofpotential individuals as well asbehaviors . We attempt a clarification here by differentiating the actors from each other and from their activities. Following this, a further division and a finer classification of those activities occur. Table I attempts to clarify these several levels by outlining them. TABLE 1 Actor-Activity Patterns in "Doula" and "Not-Doula" Behavior Actors and Direction of Activity Positive* Behavior (i.e., Caretaking, Retrieving, Feeding, Holding, Grooming, Investigating, etc.) Negative t or Neutral Behavior (i.e., Agonistic, Play, Sexual, Dominance, Rejecting, etc.) gravid Mother toward infant ....... Adult individual(s) toward female or mother................ Adult individuals) toward infant___ Adult individuals) toward motherinfant pair..................... Maternal behavior Doula behavior Doula behavior Doula behavior Maternal behavior Not-doula behaviorÍ Not-doula behavior% Not-doula behavior^ * Positive means beneficial, fulfilling, supportive, aiding, etc. t Negative means detrimental, frightening, harmful, etc. J This category may include male paternal or fathering behavior. The Actors Since we are dealing here with interactional patterns, the participants are most often described in relational terms, that is, the mother, her newborn , or both treated as one unit, interacting with one or two other individuals . In the case ofa mother and her young, the interaction is clearly one to one and a complete role relationship. One ofthe functions ofthis paper is to define and name a role identity for the other actors. For a few paragraphs more they will be identified without this role determinant as an adult female or two interacting with a gravid animal, an adult female (male or even sub-adult) interacting with an infant, or one ofthese same animals relating to the mother-infant dyad. Types ofMothering What we are singling out is some form ofmothering by one ofthese (animal) actors toward one or more other individuals ofthe same species. Within this general idea ofmothering, two maj'or subtypes appear. One is the mothering ofan infant by the "natural" mother. It is distinguished 291 from the other type...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 290-297
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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