In a bizarre attempt to experience “the one thing unavailable to men as parents”, writer Benjamin Percy wore an empathy suit complete with a fake belly, for nine weeks. You’d think the efforts of a man trying to go through the hardships of pregnancy would be applauded by women, right? Well, no…
Although fully aware that he couldn’t go through all the stages of pregnancy or experience all the nasty symptoms, Percy thought that by wearing an empathy suit for a condensed pregnancy period of nine weeks would be “a way for me to alter my point of view, deepen my empathy, help me overcome my mouth-breathing-caveman deficiencies.” He may never be able to go through child birth, but he wanted to know what it felt like to carry carry one with him wherever he went. To aid him in this “pregnant man” project, the noted fiction and non-fiction writer used a special suit designed by the Japanese scientist Dr. Takayuki Kosaka of the Kanagawa Institute of Technology. It was made of thick nylon, had a fake belly and fake boobs, but instead of adjusting his wardrobe, Benjamin opted to wear the unusual accessory over his regular clothes. As the weeks passed, he added extra weight to the belly, to match the growth of his imaginary baby. It was a unique experience, but a lot of women aren’t exactly impressed with his stunt.
Constantly bumping into things, having trouble performing the most mundane tasks, feeling hot and sweaty all the time and being stared at and questioned by strangers are just a few of the things Benjamin Percy had to deal with throughout his nine-week experiment. When he first got the idea for this simulated pregnancy period, the American writer says he thought most women would applaud his efforts, but instead, they chose to focus on all the things he didn’t go through: itchy skin, swollen ankles, boob growth, nausea, having to go to the bathroom every five minutes, and all the other symptoms of pregnancy. Plus, the option to take off the suit whenever he wanted to didn’t sit too good with them either. And Percy agrees that his wasn’t exactly a perfect simulation, just a way for a man to understand mother better. The father-of-one hoped that his time in the suit would make him a more compassionate dad, a goal shared by Dr, Kosaka, who after the nine-week period invited Benjamin to Tokyo, to test out his most recent of the Mommy Tummy pregnancy suit, which simulates a baby’s kicking.
After wearing a pregnancy suit that ended up weighing 33-pounds in the last stages of the experiment, in the hottest months of the year, and suffering ridicule from mothers everywhere, Benjamin Percy summed up his experience with the phrase: “I learned that I’m not man enough to be a woman.” If you want to know more about his fake pregnancy, the writer describes everything in detail in the March issue of GQ Magazine.
This isn’t the first time men have tried to emphasize with pregnant women. Just a few weeks ago, two Dutch presenters strapped electrodes to their stomachs to experience the agony of giving birth.