I’m here today with Brock Kankerwicz, founder of the feminism-for-men website thefemanist.com, to ask him a few questions about his website.
1. Let’s start with an icebreaker: If you were a story, what story would you be?
I think I would be Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. But instead of turning into a monarch butterfly or badger or whatever, I’d wake up as a man. Like, being a man is hard, right? I mean, every day I wake up and I’m different than the day before—I’ve turned into a different man. Basically my life is already The Metamorphosis. It feels good to be yourself.
2. What brought you to decide to create thefemanist.com?
Well, there are all these female feminists, right? And they have, like, their own spaces where they can talk about feminism, like facebook walls and twitter and stuff. But then I thought—where are the spaces for feminist men? Don’t men deserve some space too? So, as a feminist, I decided to make a website specifically for men. Feminist men, mostly, but we accept all kinds of men.
3. No women?
I mean, of course female feminists join the forums, but it’s hard because sometimes they don’t just listen, you know? It’s like they HAVE to say something. How can they understand men’s feminism if they aren’t quiet and listen to us male feminists?
4. How do you feel about online movements like #NotAllMen?
I think their hearts are in the right place—but, like, not all men are feminists too, you know? Some of us are, but not all of us. I feel like they should have a more inclusive hashtag, like #Men or #AllMen. Because we’re all men, except those of us who aren’t. I don’t know what you’d call those people.
5. What are some of the things you would like to achieve with thefemanist.com?
Oh man there are so many things! Like, objectivism, right? That’s a thing. And it being a thing is, like, objectivism, and me talking about pointing out objectivism objectifies my statement about objectivism. It’s crazy! So part of the website is dedicated to an ongoing list of objects.
6. But what are some of the feminist issues you’re trying to tackle with thefemanist.com?
Well, like I said before, I wanted to create a space for male feminists. It’s really hard to learn about feminism when you’re a man, because often female feminists just want to say things like, “Women earn less wages” and, “Women have less representation” and stuff. And some of it might be true, but what does that mean in terms of feminism? My website gives men a chance to explain feminism in male terms.
7. And how exactly do you explain things like the wage gap and representation in media and politics?
Well, it’s all about context. Like babies! You obviously can’t, like, email someone while you’re having a baby. One of thefemanist’s top posters—his handle is ActuallyMAN—created a nice pie-chart explaining how, as the men currently running huge corporations die off from old age, some women will get to run some corporations. Progress is beautiful.
8. What are some male-specific “feminist” issues that people talk about on thefemanist?
There’s a bunch lately about so-called “man-spreading” or whatever. Like, hey, you know, we have something down there? I don’t want to be crass. Balls? We have balls? Should we be sorry we have balls and don’t want to crush them? I’m not sorry I have balls and don’t want to crush them!
Also, there’s this big movement to read more diversely and buy from diverse authors, but we feel like it’s important people continue reading David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen too. So when we see these types of conversations we make a point to chime in that we think reading diversely is great—because it is great!—but so is Infinite Jest. Some members have gone so far as to hand out The Corrections at diverse books rallies.
9. What are some of the common criticisms you and other members of thefemanist.com receive?
So, so many! It’s really confusing and hurtful! That we’re invasive, that we—of ALL people—don’t “get” it, that we’re just Men’s Rights Activists who have appropriated feminist vernacular as a method to try and “control” the feminist conversation—this is what I mean when I say women join the website but they don’t listen to us! It’s all very frustrating. I think the low point was when our Lilith Fair 2015 booth application was returned in the same envelope but with nothing but ash inside.
10. What are some of your goals or plans for the future?
Well, ‘feminism’ is a problematic name. I am a man, I am not a fem. So it seems contradictory for me to be a feminist. I wish I could change the name to something more appropriate, like humanism. It could be called manism for short!
I am also really disappointed in how female feminists engage with me and my buddies at thefemanist.com. I know I keep saying this, but it’s just so frustrating to deal with such a lack of critical self-evaluation. I just want to have a conversation about feminism without female feminists trying to barge in and control it and tell me that I’m wrong!