As my book The Will to Change by bell hooks comes to a close the last couple chapters had me more than engaged, beginning with the concept and seventh chapter "Feminist Masculinity." Bell hooks answers the question: how can feminism relate to men. As hooks has been advocating throughout the book, patriarchy makes life and loving difficult for men: "Patriarchal masculinity teaches males to be pathologically narcissistic, infantile, and psychologically dependent for self determination on the privileges (however relative) that they receive from having been born male." In this chapter bell hooks takes it a step further by claiming feminism as an alternative to our patriarchal systems.
"The core of feminist masculinity is a commitment to gender equality and mutuality as crucial to inter-being and partnership in the creating and sustaining of life. Such a commitment always privileges nonviolent action over violence, peace over war, life over death."
Hooks argument contends that patriarchal masculinity is based in domination. She does not want to end masculinity, or replace it with femininity but instead calls for a transformation from masculinity centered on domination to masculinity centered on partnership. This emphasis on partnership echoes the values of equality and balance. As in the above quote hooks makes the argument that if we transform masculinity in our society, a focus on partnership, equality, and balance could end violence against women.
More on the concept of partnership: "In a partnership model male identity, like its female counterpart would be centered around the notion of an essential goodness that is inherently relationally oriented."
What got me so excited about this argument is that hooks talks about a feminism that does not exclude men. Feminism in my opinion is about equality. For hooks feminism does not exclude/dominate/control/change men; feminism can liberate men.
Gender relations do not have to be a power struggle. It can be a partnership.