I was going to post this over my apology from last night, so as to obliterate the evidence, but then I read it and realized I spelled 'write' as 'right' thus backing up my claim to incoherence. This is amusing enough to grant it a stay of execution, so my "Friday" update is here, on Saturday, in a new post.
Feminism is a dauntingly broad subject to address, so let me begin in a manageable piece. I consider myself a feminist. Of course what I just said can be interpreted in a plethora of ways, I am not a separatist, nor an eco-feminist, and Third Wave feminism seems a little too debauched for me at times. One of my philosophy professors would quote the definition paraphrased here, "A feminist is one who holds the radical belief that women are people."
This seems too easy, but I believe this may be a product of the era in which I grew up. I too have been influenced by the Girl Power culture of the nineties, and find it almost unbelievable to consider women as anything other than people. Watching the TV show "Mad Men" recently hit home the fact, which I knew intellectually, that as recently as half a century ago women were considered to be of similar competency as the children they raised. So, if I am perceiving our society correctly when I say that women, for the most part, are people too nowadays, this is something to be celebrated.
However, I do not believe that the progress is sufficient for us to grow complacent and lapse into a post-feminist society. There are inherent differences between males and females that necessitate treating women as people in their own right, rather than simply adding them to the "guys." In other words, although women and men are both people, women should not be forced to conform to the male-presuming standards for being a person.
For example, a woman may give birth, a man cannot give birth, thus denying a woman the right to take a break during an examination to lactate is not treating her equally to a man. While it is true that men are also not permitted to pause for lactation during the exam, it is a non-issue for a man. To hold a woman to the same standard despite the inherent differences in situations would be to declare that women may take a place alongside men in society, but only if they take the route of conforming to the traditional male role (the Margret Thatcher route you might cal it). I guess I'm not a liberal feminist either (one who believes women will achieve de facto [real] equality with men simply through de jure [legal] equality with men).
This leads me to why feminism is so important for everyone, because we are all individuals. While permitting women to assume male-roles in society may be a step forward, it is my dream that one step of the future will be to let go of the dichotomous nature of male/female roles in society and instead consider each individual as just that, an individual. This will be a boon to anyone who fails to fit either role perfectly. So, if you aspire to be something other than the perfect 60's mother or father, it is in your interest to be a feminist too.