This is one of those threads that makes me feel, as Kenneth Anger captioned a picture of Judy G., "old, old, old." I entered college in 1975--so long ago I had a girlfriend (she decided she was a lesbian, I figured out I liked men, and we've remained friends, though it took a cooling off period of a few years first). I remember describing myself as a feminist in one of those cringe-worthy conversations new college students have with their parents when they visit home, and my mother responding antagonistically and argumentatively. She was in her mid-fifties and had worked as a nurse the first several years of my parents' marriage, because she had an RN, whereas my father had dropped out of high school to fight in WWII. He got a job with a bank, where he worked for thirty years, and was more than happy to quit her job before I was born (my father did most of the childcare when my brother and sister were little--I was the last, born when mom was 39) and spend the rest of her life keeping house and doing the majority of the child-raising. She was rather defensive about feminism and particularly dismissive of my allegiance to its principles. When I took a course in women in literature my freshman year I was one of only two men in a class of fifty (and the only man who came to class regularly). I remember feeling overwhelmed the first day and the instructor asked me to stay behind the second day. I expected her to tell me she would prefer I drop so it could be a women's space. Quite the contrary, she strongly encouraged me to stay, saying she was pleased to have me there and was even more impressed that I was a first-year student (it was a junior level class). And I got an A, not by kissing up, but by taking the work seriously. I read Simone de Beauvoir and Virginia Woolf's feminist theories for the first time, was introduced to Kate Chopin and Doris Lessing (and broke up with my girlfriend--who was at a different college). My closest mentor throughout college, grad school, and my professional career has been a professor who was the youngest woman to be president of the AAUP--I wrote a dissertation on a female poet under her supervision.
None of this was by design or in an arch or self-conscious way of trying to prove my support of "feminism" as an ideology--it's just what happened as the result of a series of encounters that taught me how to value women's lives, struggles, and accomplishments, and to understand (as an emerging gay men) how the difference was that women as a category had had to work harder through history to have access to education, power, support. While, like most other gay men, I suppose I admit to squeamishness about ladyparts, but I assume that's my psychological adaptation, nothing inherent in comparative attractiveness of our genitalia (I also am squeamish about uncut cock--so sue me).
Can I still find myself falling into stereotypes about women and particularly lesbians--of course, I'd be a liar to deny it. Stereotypes are simply lazy generalizations, even in those instances where they are based on noticeable social traits found in many members of a group. Some are just fun in a juvenile way (I love the Michfest threads because they often do capture the all-too-silly if in many cases well-intentioned linguistic acrobatics and circumlocutions, and the statements that, under the guise of liberatory rhetoric, mask just as tyrannical a desire for control as that of any male chauvinist pig). And yes, there have been times when I've socialized with my old girl friend and her partner (she's had the current one for ten or more years, but had a number before that--more domestic partners than I, anyway, even if I confirmed the stereotype of the gay man who has more sexual partners) and have found not them, but some of their female friends smug and dismissive of men as a group. That annoys me. But they've also been awfully friendly, warm, and supportive, too--generous of heart. So, feminism has never meant "hating men" for me--and there's no need for it to.
So there, bitches! :)