Putting on socks was a serious struggle for these governors.
Every country with a patriarchal system varies in how much the average man’s and woman’s “duties” differ. In Japan, studies revealed that men only did approximately one hour of chores everyday while women engaged in about five hours of chores.
This is a substantial difference, and it’s especially alarming when mothers and women who are pregnant are expected to carry on with their normal tasks despite the added weight and responsibility. While Japanese men are among the least likely in the world to help out with housework and child-rearing, men in the Kyushu and Yamaguchi areas are even less likely to help out than the average Japanese man.
In response to these studies, the governors of the Saga, Miyazaki, and Yamaguchi prefectures put on pregnancy suits to attempt to understand what women endure when they’re expecting. Though it doesn’t simulate any of the side effects of pregnancy, the sheer weight of the suit has caused 97% of men to agree that men need to be involved more in the home and with child-rearing after wearing the suit.
The suit itself is about 16 pounds, which is the average additional weight a woman carries during her 7th month of pregnancy. A short video titled “The Governor is a Pregnant Woman,” was produced to depict the struggles the men faced during the experiment, as they were forced to go through the daily activities that women often perform, such as grocery shopping, cleaning, and riding the bus. This was particularly difficult for the men who don’t often perform these tasks even without wearing the suit.
Even the most trivial of tasks, like putting on socks or bending over the sink to wash dishes, proved to be troublesome with the bulging belly, something most men didn’t foresee being an issue. The new perspective certainly opened the eyes of all the progressive governors.
“I really didn’t understand,” admitted one of the participants, Yamaguchi governor Tsugumasa Muraoka. “Now that I understand what my wife put up with for so many months, I’m full of gratitude.”
The idea and the video are the brainchild of the Kyushu Yamaguchi Work Life Promotion Campaign, which aims to inspire men to better balance their work and home lives. As the video states,
“Happiness is brought about by a healthy balance of work and family.”
This is certainly a creative way to promote a balanced life and to aid in transitioning to a culture that believes in gender equality. As more men experience what women must endure, and vice versa, the two genders can learn to reconcile the significant differences in their roles and re-evaluate what it means to be a man or a woman.
Watch the short video below about the campaign.
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