I've always loved the '80s definition of feminism: “the radical notion that women are people.” Though only 24% of women and 14% of men in the USA consider themselves feminist in the absence of a definition, when you give them a definition like the Oxford English Dictionary's "the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes", the percentage of people who accept the name shoots up to 65% of women and 58% of men.
And if you don't use the name "feminism", the percentage of people with traditional feminist goals skyrockets. In 2010, support for "a new law that would provide women more tools to get fair pay in the workplace" was at 84% in the US, which breaks down to 77% of Republicans, 91% of Democrats, and 87% of Independents. To put that in perspective, 40% of Americans consider themselves conservatives, 35% consider themselves moderates, and only 21% consider themselves liberals, so conservative and moderate support for feminist goals is crucial.
I've always been among the classical feminists. My father may have done the most to make me a feminist. He grew up on a farm where all the boys and girls did whatever needed doing, so he raised my brother, my sister, and me the same way. I've never thought of cooking or taking care of the house as "women's work". My sister reinforced my feminism: she never saw why being female should keep her from having as much fun as a boy, and she was prepared to fight me—literally—if I ever claimed that being older or male meant I was entitled to more. My mom's quiet example ensured my feminism would never waver: she always worked outside our home, for others and in family businesses. My first heroes included Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis because they were doing the same thing that Wonder Woman did, bravely battling for their place in Man's World.
At some level, very early in life, I simply got the notion that everyone should have the same chances in life. Maybe I picked it up in Sunday School from St. Paul's, "There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female." Maybe I got it in elementary school from the Declaration of Independence's "All men are created equal", because I read "men" in the generic sense of "humans"—the fact that the US's Founders didn't mean to include women, slaves, free black folks, or white men without property was a subtlety that I missed until after my beliefs about equality had formed. For most of my life, if you asked me if I was a feminist, my "yes" would've come without hesitation or qualification.
But feminism changed in the '80s and '90s. I wrote about that in The Man Who Changed Middle-Class Feminism. While feminist goals were being achieved, middle class identitarian feminists narrowed the definition of who was feminist. Self-declared feminists on the political right and left like Camille Paglia, Katie Roiphe, Dita Von Teese, Christina Hoff Sommers, and Naomi Wolf have been denounced as anti-feminist, even though none of them want a world of unequal opportunity. Men can no longer be feminists in the eyes of identitarians; googling shows the new term is "male ally". What identitarians make of the fact that "feminism" was coined in 1837 by a man, the socialist Charles Fourier, I haven't found.
Ask me if I'm a feminist now, and my answer is, "What kind?" You could call me a traditional feminist, a second wave feminist, or an equity feminist. I'm not an identitarian feminist, a third wave feminist, a bourgeois feminist, or a gender feminist. I'd prefer to say I'm a socialist in the tradition of Fourier, and Frederick Engels, who wrote in The Origin of the Family:
In an old unpublished manuscript, written by Marx and myself in 1846, I find the words: “The first division of labor is that between man and woman for the propagation of children.” And today I can add: The first class opposition that appears in history coincides with the development of the antagonism between man and woman in monogamous marriage, and the first class oppression coincides with that of the female sex by the male.I'm not a Leninist, but I love Lenin's observation that "No nation can be free when half the population is enslaved in the kitchen."
It may be that it's time to let "feminist" join its place in history with "suffragist" and "abolitionist". I much prefer "equalist", a rare English word that dates back to 1661. There's no suggestion in equalist that one side might be better than the other, and it applies to all social inequalities rather than one.
If you accept the CDC reports on rape and abuse, remember that it finds no saints. Many women and men are the victims of physical and sexual violence, the CDC reports: "Men have been victimized as well: About one in seven reports an intimate partner has been physically violent and one in 19 has been the victim of stalking."
When discussing the CDC reports, remember that there are good reasons to question the approach and conclusions: How the CDC is overstating sexual violence in the U.S.: "The agency’s figures are wildly at odds with official crime statistics. The FBI found that 84,767 rapes were reported to law enforcement authorities in 2010. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, the gold standard in crime research, reports 188,380 rapes and sexual assaults on females and males in 2010. Granted, not all assaults are reported to authorities. But where did the CDC find 13.7 million victims of sexual crimes that the professional criminologists had overlooked?"
If you believe the presumption of innocence should not be granted to men accused of rape: Do Women Lie About Rape?: "Research has shown that only roughly 2 to 8 percent of rape reports are untrue, (for car thefts, another felony offense, that number is about 10 percent [pdf].)" That article acknowledges the problem while downplaying it. For a much harsher take on the same fact: Sometimes, women lie about rape.
ETA: The 2% figure is often claimed, but it's never been substantiated. There's another take on the issue at 'Truth test' to uncover false rape allegations - Home News - UK - The Independent: "Between 10 and 41 per cent of allegations of rape are made up by the "victim", according to previous research."
False Rape Accusations May Be More Common Than Thought | Fox News focuses on DNA evidence: "the rate of false reports is roughly between 20 (if DNA excludes an accused) to 40 percent (if inconclusive DNA is added). The relatively low estimate of 25 to 26 percent is probably accurate, especially since it is supported by other sources." The writer makes two important points: "the category of 'false accusations' does not distinguish between accusers who lie and those who are honestly mistaken. Nor does it indicate that a rape did not occur, merely that the specific accused is innocent."