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This question has been on my mind for awhile, but I've felt unsure about how to address it. On the one hand, I feel like it's an unnecessary question that harks to the fallacious belief that feminists are women and that men can't be part of the movement. But on the other hand, there are some legitimate questions about how feminist men can be full participants in the movement, without reinforcing patriarchy (for my LDS readers, remember - we 're talking about the form of Patriarchy that Hugh Nibley refers to as a fallen patriarchy - one that is about control and power over women, not about partnership and service). So, what are some of the inherent obstacles we need to consider? Well, for one, most research finds that if more than 25% of the people in a discussion are men, the majority of conversation comes from men, and the same phenomenon takes place in a lot of feminist discussions.
Now, some bloggers - like Twisty from iblamethepatriarchy - have gone so far as to discourage men from participating on their websites, but that's obviously something we'd never do here at NAW. A solid portion of our readership is male, and each of our male readers contributes a unique and interesting personal perspective. Plus, how could we ever sacrifice the great discussions between Jeremy and Jon? But the blogs that discourage male voices (as much as I disagree with their policies) do so for a reason: they get sick of a phenomenon known as "mansplaining." What is "mansplaining"? Well, it's a term feminist bloggers use to refer to men who show up and attempt to set all the feminists right, usually prefacing their comments with something along the lines of, "As a man, let me tell you what men think about ______."
Why isn't such a helpful comment appreciated on a feminist blog? Well, generally such comments miss the point. For instance, a couple years ago I wrote a post in defense of feminine styles of communication. A few men showed up and took it upon themselves to explain male communication and encourage women to adapt to male communication patterns. But the whole point of my post was that feminine communication was just as valid as male communication. If I'd written a post about how confusing I found male communication, those responses would have made sense. As things stood, I personally already communicated in a more masculine style, as I had stated in the original post. So, as great as their intentions may have been, those particular male readers were only exacerbating the situation by making the discussion all about how women should adapt to male needs, and by refusing to listen.
So, with all these issues in mind, let me repeat the question:
Where do men fit in feminism? How can female feminists help male feminists feel welcome, while avoiding some of those obstacles I just listed? And what should a man do if he's new to feminism and wants to join the discussion?