I just read Jessica Valenti's Full Frontal Feminism, an eminently reasonable and plain-spoken explanation of why young women today still need feminism. It's written from a very down-to-earth, mostly heterosexual (but not heteronormative!) perspective, and it manages to be non-academic without being stupid, if you know what I mean and that's not a common feat in this type of book.
In the past, I've been a little wary of feminism, because my initial exposure was way too academic and way too unrealistic. No, I don't feel that my life is unbearably suffused with phallic energy, and no, I don't believe that the world used to be a utopian matriarchy, and no, I don't think that having sex with boys--including nasty filthy sex, including sex on camera--is betraying the Sisters.
Fortunately it turns out that these things are not necessary to be a feminist. What is necessary is a desire for honest equality, and the understanding that it hasn't happened yet. To be honest it's the second part that I was slower to get to. I mean, I hold a job, I go to school, I vote, nobody ever says to my face that "you can't do this, you're a girl", so what was the big deal? Beer ads?
Actually, yeah, beer ads are a small part of it, but the main thing is a pervasive cultural mindset. It has very real, very obvious effects like women earning less than men and women being denied contraception and given abstinence education. And just the general idea--the feeling you can get from media and politics and casual conversation that men are people and women are a weird subcategory of people. It's everything from talk about "women voters" (men are just voters) to the reason this site doesn't feature my face and last name. (Not that a man could, but someone who didn't talk about sex could. And anti-sex sentiments are directly connected to anti-feminist ones.)
So I guess I'm a feminist because I'd like to be a person, not just a woman. Yeah, we're closer to the ideal than we were in the 1950's; no, we ain't nearly there yet.
And I'm also a feminist because I like to fuck, and I resent everything and everyone that would make that a secret shame. I fuck not to make marriages or babies but simply to fuck, and I am sick and fucking tired of the government and beer ads and my friends and fucking Cosmopolitan telling me there's something wrong with that.
I love men. I love them as partners and as friends and as people. I just want to be 100% certain that I'm people too.
(At least 50% of the people who read this know my face and last name. And home phone number for that matter. But it's the principle of the thing, okay?)