I haven't been on the boards much lately and only just noticed (and read) this thread. It has been interesting.
To the first three questions: My answer is NO. (Hear the echos through the canyons of downtown Manhattan.)
To the fourth: Well, someone here used to have Rebecca West's great statement "People accuse me of being a feminist anytime I express opinions that distinguish me from a doormat." as a signature line.
I cannot answer this succinctly and I fear that this deep in the thread, no one is going to read this anyhow.
Feminism for me means humanism (and, yes I read the post about the guy who called himself a humanist seing only part of the population...but I see it as enveloping the world). And it means fairness. It also means that I am not forced into a role chosen for me by another (male OR female). Instead of telling you what I think, let me just give you some examples from my own life that made me a feminist. I think everyone here can see where this is going.
I was protected until at school. Then I, at an Episcopalian school, learned that the rest of the world was not going to let me get away with being me.
(1) I was prevented from playing with the "boys' toys" on the other side of the kindergarden room, even though I found playing exclusively with dolls and hairbrushes boring. (I thought the dolls should get to ride in the trucks, too.)
(2) I was prevented from playing ice hockey and told that I should dress like the girls (tights and short skirts), instead of the snow suit with pants that I was wearing, and I had to use figure skates. Well, my parents let me keep the hockey skates (handmedowns and free and I had been using them since I was 2.5 years old) and also still let me play hockey with my cousins...who were the ones I learned it from.
(3) I was sent to the principal's office because I hit back at a boy who gave me a black eye. (I got his nose. It bled. Too bad.) The reason was NOT that hitting back was bad, it was that GIRLS DON'T HIT BECAUSE IT IS NOT LADYLIKE. My father said that was insane. I had a right to defend myself and rules should be enforced equally.
(4) After my parents got divorced, my mother couldn't get a credit card in her own name because she was a divorced woman. She had to go through many machinations to get one. That's a story for another thread.
(5) With my father I saw working class women who got paid less than the men for the same job...and they had to do the job because they needed to pay the bills when that all-important man walked out on them. (My father works with a labor union.)
(6) People told me that I should be 'nicer' or I'd never get a boyfriend. So, I'd have to lie about myself in order to have a companion?
(7) I got coddled again when I went to a single sex school after two years of torture at Breck School. (See stupid stories above. Those of you in the Twin Cities, MN area may have heard of it. Supposedly it is good. Maybe it has changed.) At an all girls school, I didn't get told I couldn't do something 'cause I was a girl. But, we didn't have a hockey team. Nor a lot of other sports. I could compete in tennis. :Puke Or volleyball. :Puke :Puke Hey, if you like them, more power to you. I was no good at volleyball for some reason and I didn't like tennis unless I played doubles. I LIKE team sports. I don't think that everyone should like them, too, but I think I should be allowed to do what I am good at.
(8) I applied to high schools. Two of the high schools I wanted to go to funded girls and guys sports VERY unequally. And I wasn't so thrilled about their "security" arrangements. At one of them, the girls had earlier curfews...to protect them. I wondered (out loud, at the "presentation" by their admissions office recruiter) why the guys then weren't given an earlier curfew so all those horney and bullying teenage boys were locked up?
(8) I am a hunter. I get told frequently (by women) that that is something for men only. OK. Whatever. I'm good at it and I like eating organic, lean meat. And I am married to a jewish man who doesn't keep kosher but has said he doesn't see himself ever taking up hunting.
(9) I am good at lots of things (in all due modesty
) and many of them are called "men's things". Some aren't. Anyone here going to question Ms Sisko's reason for working on cars?
(10) Anyone wonder why cooking is women's work but all the great chefs until Julia Childs were men? And mostly still are?
(11) And clothing designers...sewing is women's work....but there's Karl Lagerfeld? Oscar De La Renta? Balenciaga? Kurt Steiger? Christian Louboutin? Salvatore Ferragamo? Versace? (Of course, if you look at what these guys expect us to actually wear, one starts wondering if it isn't just a kind of sadistic mysogyny at work.
(12) And there is much anthropological AND historical evidence that the neolithic revolution (farming) was started by women. But, now when the USDA talks about farming, they talk about "farmers and their wives"....like, what, there's masses of ladies-of-leisure on all the family farms in this country?
I wonder about the farms they visit.
(13) And, yes, I was the one who was pregnant, and I was the one who gave birth, and I was/am the one who lactated. And I'm still nursing (20 mos. and going strong), but I must confess, as much as I enjoy my little one's company, I also like what I do outside the home. And I am good at it and I feel that IF it is true that there is a God who is a Creator, and our talents were gifted to us by Him or Her, then it would be a sin not to use our talents for their intended purpose. I look upon my job as a calling. And my father looked upon his as one, too.
Of course, one's calling might be very different depending on different periods in one's life. Each person here must find her own path and follow it. You only know what you are supposed to do by looking into your own heart.
It is not narcissism.