"When you're pregnant, you become public property," father of one, Benjamin Percy, wrote after spending nine weeks in a pregnancy simulation suit.
Percy experienced some of the physical inconveniences of carrying a child during his time as a "pregnant man" -- knocking into tables, being perpetually hot and the inability to pick things up -- but was also subjected to the constant questions and stares from strangers. A feeling, he writes, that his wife was already familiar with.
In the march issue of GQ, Percy explains his motivation for the experiment. "Maybe -- by helping me experience the one thing unavailable to men as parents -- it will be more than a costume, but a way for me to alter my point of view, deepen my empathy, help me overcome my mouth-breathing-caveman deficiencies."
Dr. Takayuki Kosaka, of the Kanagawa Institute of Technology, sent Percy the prosthetic suit. The writer wore it for nine weeks then at the end of his experiment, Percy flew to Japan, met Dr. Kosaka and was allowed to test drive a more-advanced version -- the Mommy Tummy. Kosaka told Percy that he hopes his invention will teach men to be more considerate of pregnant women.
Percy admits that when he first agreed to suit up, he thought the women around him would applaud his efforts. But instead, they focused on the suit's flaws -- it doesn't simulate boob weight, itchy skin, or swollen ankles. "They wanted me to pee every five minutes,” Percy told Steve Harvey in an interview.
In January, when two men underwent simulated labor for a Dutch TV show, blogger Karen Alpert was equally unimpressed by their attempt to experience pregnancy. In a guest post on Scary Mommy, Alpert suggested ten ways men could truly understand what it's like to carry a baby including eating 50 hardboiled eggs and wearing pants that are too small for six months.
Though acting as a pregnant man was difficult, Percy is fully aware that wearing a prosthetic suit doesn't actually emulate pregnancy. It did, however, reiterate a valuable lesson. "I’m not man enough to be a woman," he told Harvey.