The only thing you can know about someone who says “I am a feminist” is that they believe that women are oppressed in some way. Otherwise, people’s beliefs about any given subject that might be called feminist are all over the board (surprise surprise).
There are many topics that feminism covers:
Sexual violence, domestic violence, unequal pay, gender roles, general bullshity messages from everywhere that being beautiful to attract and satisfy a male mate is more important than developing your mind and other survival abilities, the right to a safe and legal abortion (and the list goes on for a very long time).
These are issues that affect women all over the world disproportionately to men all over the world, and the consequences for women can be and are not limited to:
Poverty, depression (or other psychological problems such as anorexia), death, or physical handicap (the list continues).
Men also suffer. They also have special issues. However, my take on feminism is that it exists (and has a name) because not that many people were doing much to change the situations that mainly affect women, so some people stepped up to advocate and fight for change, and voila: feminists.
The reason I feel compelled to write yet *another* node about what feminism is is because, although there stand many a fine node about feminism, I still notice a lot of hostility and confusion associated with the word; and I thought maybe if they read just one more clarifying node, suddenly people who were hissy about the subject would let go of their stereotypes and everything would just settle nicely into place.
Spelled out, what I want realized is that the label “feminist” doesn’t always equate the same thing for every person, and so isn’t synonymous with extremist, man hater or dogmatic; it would be useful if feminism was recognized as a general label describing a system of beliefs, similar to the labels “Jewish” or “Republican” or “Car Enthusiast” or whatever.