I've been reading a lot about feminism recently from multiple sources. For a long time, I did not like the feminist movement, or any other movement that represented one demographic over another (Gay rights, feminism, environmentalism, political activism of all sorts, Occupy, vegetarianism and its derivatives, etc.) In short, I suppose I didn't like activism in general.
The first step in understanding the most rational parts of these movements, for me, came from (of course) the atheist visibility movement. For a long time, I used to feel kind of rejected because of my position on religion, and I never explored why until later in life. I kind of felt selfish because I knew how lucky I was to be a relatively well off person in a good society, and how it could very easily have been much worse for me. I didn't realize that yes, atheists are indeed persecuted by the majority in most places, and that it is cause for alarm. Getting involved in the movement of helping atheists to be more accepted in society was a big step because it made me aware not only of how legitimate my own struggle was, but how much more legitimate other people's struggles were.
After going through my experience, and after having met several other people who were going through different struggles, it made me realize what privileges I had that I took for granted (I am a heterosexual white male from a middle class household with two living parents with the opportunity to pursue my dreams) and made me appreciate them. The struggles other people had made a lot more sense, and I can now understand why things are taken to extremes.
Here's an example: I eat meat. I love it. And I used to LOVE to tease vegetarians. I liked the idea of ordering veal in their presence just to piss them off. Why? The perception: Vegetarians/Vegans are a bunch of self righteous pricks that are all high on themselves and want to dictate the morality of other people in order to claim moral superiority. What have I realized?
THIS IS NOT TRUE!!!
Of course there are some vegetarians and vegans who are really in your face about how much they hate that you eat meat, but to focus on their intensity does not necessarily devalue their central moral question: Is it right to eat meat? Do you know the answer to this question? I really, really don't.
I suspect that there are a lot of people that disagree with feminism because of these same kinds of arguments. The perception: Feminists are a bunch of anti-male self righteous cunts that are all high on themselves and want to dictate the morality of men in order to claim moral superiority. Aaaaand...
THIS IS NOT TRUE!!!
Feminists, in my experience, have been the best people I can imagine. Generally and specifically speaking, the feminists I have known respect equal rights, honesty, compassion and reason. Without fail, anyone I know that has fought for the cause of feminism has been in it for all the good reasons. I've observed one comedian who asserts female superiority over men (Susie Essman) that I don't particularly like, but comedy gets a few passes when it comes to these sorts of things.
I realized fairly recently, given all the exposure that I've had to feminism, that my attitude towards vegetarians was not that different than my attitude towards feminists. I was arguing against a straw man the whole time. I realized that I dislike the idea of women hating on men, I dislike the idea of vegetarians hating meat-eaters, I dislike the idea of liberals hating conservatives, and I dislike the idea of atheists hating theists, and vice versa on all of that.
What I really want is for ideas to be discussed. Open minded ideas that embrace the love that all human beings that care have for each other. Perhaps that's too utopian for reality to deal with, but it's absolutely my utopia.