"Feminist Men Of New York" Calender Kickstarter Is Either An Important Statement For Gender Equality Or A Way To Derail It
Where do men belong within feminism? On calendars, of course! There is currently a Kickstarter for a calendar of male feminists going on — so if you've ever wanted to plaster your walls with pictures of dudes who happen to believe in gender equality, now is your chance.
The project, called Feminist Men of New York, is spearheaded by Marcella Leininger Kocolatos and will profile 12 men who identify as feminists, one for each month. The each page of the calendar will include a photo, a short biography of the man depicted, and a statement explaining why he's a feminist. But lest you hope that the calendar will try to subvert the patriarchy by catering to the female gaze, sadly, the men will not be getting naked. Instead they will dress and pose however they feel comfortable.
The calendar, which is within $100 of its $1,800 goal as of press time, will also note important dates in women's history. Half the proceeds will be donated to an unspecified reproductive health charity.
In the description for the project, Kocolatos writes, "I want to show that identifying as a feminist and advocating for gender equality through words and actions is part and parcel with being a compassionate, intelligent man." She also states that she believes that men can and should identify as feminists — which I agree with, so long as those men are feminist enough to accept that feminism absolutely should be helmed by women, and that feminism does not need men to come in and decide the best way to fight a form of oppression they have never personally experienced.
So is the Feminist Men of New York calendar a way of encouraging men to be feminists? Or is a way of centering men within feminism? After all, promoting the stories, viewpoints, and opinions of men without also doing the same for women is the sort of thing that the feminist movement is supposed to counteract. And while it's certainly true that women's experiences and perspectives are frequently highlighted within feminism, the wider culture frequently pays far more attention to men and takes male opinions much more seriously. Which is why it's important for feminism to change that dynamic, and one could argue that highlighting a bunch of feminist men as opposed to women fails to do that.
However, from my perspective, the real question here is who this calendar is meant for. One of the best things that feminists dudes can do to advance feminism is to challenge other men on feminist issues, to use their privilege to make people listen or better yet direct people's attention to women speaking up about the issues, and to generally confront sexist views and assumptions among men, especially those men who would be unwilling to listen to a woman. So from that view, if this calendar is a way of reaching out to men in order to explain why men should support gender equality and to provide models for what a male feminist looks like, then I call it a good thing.
If, on the other hand, the calendar winds up being mostly bought by and for women... well, I'm not saying it isn't nice to know there are feminist guys out there (there's a reason we all love Joseph Gordon Levitt and those feminist Ryan Gosling memes), but expecting women to glorify male feminists is a little played out at this point.
You can check out the Kickstarter below.