Published in Broadly, 2017
I am seated cross-legged in an oppressively hot room, waiting for eight men to give birth.
To be clear: this is not the product of a fantastical scientific experimentation that has managed to successfully impregnate men. It is a meditative session designed to simulate the experience of labor for men, guiding them through the process until they have squawked a baby straight out of their imagination.
We are at a "Male Labor" class at the Really Good Sex Festival in Sydney. Its attendees are seated in a circle on the floor. Some appear to meditate, occasionally reaching out to touch one another. Everybody in the room is smiling very serenely.
Christine, the workshop's Danish instructor, takes her seat on a pillow in the circle and begins to introduce the concept of the class. She ruminates on the gender divides in society; the way we are constantly fighting to attain stability in our lives—a venture she defines as fruitless when "we have so little stability in our own bodies."
The class, she tells me later, had its debut at a festival in Berlin for gay, bi and trans men, but it was first devised as dance choreography. Sadly, the arts funding didn't go through, so "There I was, the only woman at the festival, guiding a room full of naked or half naked men through a process of birth."
"I encourage them to surrender," she explains. "To allow themselves to be moved. Essentially it is a process of opening up to the force of Nature to move through you. To clean you. To bring to consciousness what might be in your way, in order to live as a whole being ... male and female qualities."