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openDemocracy's Editor on how an open debate between men and women could be one way in which openDemocracy moves ahead

Rosemary Bechler
11 March 2013

I’m glad that Andrew is calling for ‘a new, transparent and better back and forth with you our readers and contributors’ about what’s happening at openDemocracy. I’d like to echo this. It has been one of the real paradoxical pleasures of this crisis, to be back in touch with so many contributors, talking to supporters old and new and making new friends.

On March 8, Jobardu commented on the lead article in our International Women’s Day coverage, that one way for openDemocracy to ‘move ahead from where it is now’ is ‘to provide a platform where men can describe their experiences of being a male in today’s world, and their views on fatherhood, marriage, social controls and gender specific issues.’ He urged us to move beyond feminist articles written for feminists, and warned us that since, ‘openDemocracy is known as having a feminist orientation… extra care will be needed to assure male readers that they are encouraged to participate.’

I agree such an open debate for men and women, bringing readers and contributors together would be a fine thing and I think we should look into the possibility. Extremely delicate of course, since look no further than Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce today to see how reliant men and women often are on each other for their happiness, and how easily this can go wrong. But also because gender is constructed around binary opposition - a recipe if ever there was one for wholly unilluminating mutual accusation and reductive stereotyping.

Still – it’s just the sort of debate, bringing readers and contributors together, that I would love to see happen, and I think we must look into it with the help of ideas like those from Jobardu and fellow-commenters. In the meantime, I would just like to point you back to the archive for something I wrote on openDemocracy’s ‘feminist orientation’ in 2010, defending the value of having a 50.50 section on the grounds that it was a chance to ‘persuade openDemocracy readers of the genuine difference of perspective on world affairs that a gendered awareness brings.’

Have we been successful? Not if we have excluded any voices ready to make an argument that is relevant to the debate and not ad hominem. It’s as simple as that, and it’s a high standard to aspire to. Only you can judge – and hopefully, more than before - you will tell us what you think…

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