My perspective on childbirth has altered significantly over the years, but I am still fascinated by male efforts to understand or truly empathize with pregnancy and birth. Recently, author Ben Percy wrote about a 9-week simulated "pregnancy" in GQ. (Read it. It's definitely worth your time.) During the hottest part of the summer, he wore a pregnancy belly suit for 9 weeks to try to understand a little of what his wife had to go through. This was followed by a Today Show interview with host Steve Harvey. Apparently Harvey was at a loss for words. From the LA Times:
In publishing, landing a spot on the "Today" show has traditionally been thought of as a publicity holy grail. Is that why Benjamin Percy wore a pregnancy suit to get there? And did he have any idea just how strange the experience would be?
Not wearing the pregnancy suit for nine weeks -- trying to talk to Steve Harvey. Harvey gets so discombobulated that, apropos of nothing, he asks Percy if he's ever bitten a man.
Percy does have one of the most arresting voices in contemporary American letters. He's also known for writing fiction with a specifically manly bent, like "The Wilding," which is about three generations of men in one family who go on a hunting trip. So imagining him walking around as a pregnant woman does present a little cognitive dissonance.
He committed to a simulated mini-pregnancy, wearing a high-tech pregnancy suit made in Japan that got bigger each trimester. "It looks a little like a flak jacket," Percy writes, describing his mommy-gear in militaristic terms. A chronicle of his experience -- which included shopping, attending public events, and getting a sweaty rash -- appears in this month's GQ.
(Ben Percy is one of my husband's writer friends, and yes, his voice really is that deep. If you ever have the chance to attend a reading of his, please go. He's super entertaining.)
Here's the Today Show interview.
So, what do you think? Is it commendable that men are trying to understand what a woman experiences when she's pregnant? Or, since they can never really understand what it's like, is it just another way to garner praise and attention?
I should add that Eric has often remarked that he is in awe of the birth process and feels a sense of loss that he'll never be able to experience it. That's the kind of man I like :)