Note 1: I'm by default reluctant to write anything explicitly related to gender issues, because our society has a very special way of being stupid about that, and it doesn't feel like adding my voice to the mess would really be, you know, adding anything. I think in this case an exception is justified, because I might genuinely have things to say here which are so controversial that they probably haven't been said before.
Note 2: Yes, I know, it's very easy to nitpick about the title. There's always some clever trick that can turn phrases like "be beautiful" into "have a beautiful body", and "have respect" into "be a respected person". Regardless, I think there's a natural way to cognitively relate "feeling-of-being" to certain aspects of human existence, and "feeling-of-possession" to others. Thank you for understanding.
First, let me tell you how I finally Got feminism. The common image is that feminism is about equality of men and women. It is also that feminism is a social and political movement. Take a few seconds to reflect on how stupid these ideas are. If you consider it from a distance, the movement never actually really managed to convincingly put up a pretense of having any coherent utility function in the political world. And also, taking a honest look at the whole "equality" agenda as it is currently understood, I think it is overall hurting women more than it's helping them.
Instead, I now understand, the appeal of feminism always came from it being mainly a psychological movement. The generator of the political and social side of it was "whatever you had to say at the time to help to put women in a certain mental state". And by its nature, it could never propagate completely by the political message alone. It had to include at least some contact with already-liberated women in real life.
If you look around, the version of feminism we have today is hopelessly garbled, to the point that most women don't even realize that it ever used to be about something else than the political gibberish. I think some of the real spirit has survived in LGBT communities, because they are the ones that are actually forced to stand in opposition to much of the broader society. And who knows, maybe there are some pockets of it surviving elsewhere. But if there are, I haven't seen them.
This brings us back to the One Problem (Almost) All Women Have. There's a very deep level on which human values are basically genetically (or prenatally) programmed, and it turns out that (surprise!) men and women tend to have different values written in. Now this is devastatingly, mind-numbingly obvious from an evolutionary psychology perspective, while also being so controversial as to be basically unspeakable in the current political climate: yes, there are psychological differences between men and women. And yes, those differences are significant.
I am reminded here of the well-known poem about lesbian sheep:
And alas, her true love, just a few yards away,
tries the very same thing in the very same way,
and though they both want to be loved and be held,
they just stand around, and wait to be smelled...
The issue I'm bringing up today isn't quite the same one, but the analogy is obvious. Men are programmed to execute their sexual strategy by a combination of grabbing what they need, in both the social and material sense, with a little bit of personal charm maybe mixed in there somewhere. While women are programmed to mostly want to be intrinsically attractive, according to whatever the society they were brought up in defined that to be.
One of the evolutionary reasons for this seems simple: as a man, you have the option of walking away. It's not great, but if the going gets rough, and especially if you are still young, walking away from your tribe is probably the right choice - and has been for most of your ancestors. While as a woman, if your life becomes unbearable, the best you can hope for is to signal that you wish to be snatched away. Walking away by yourself is very close to (reproductive, evolutionary) death. All of this of course has nothing to do with the modern world, but ancestrally-determined sexual strategies remain the motivation behind most of people's lives. And the number of women you'll see everywhere who feel miserable and just keep on doing the signaling... it's heart-wrenching.
People are very good at pretending that they do something else, while executing their sexual strategies. Obviously, they also pretend this to themselves, most of the time. And yet if you know what to look for, you'll see clearly how sexual strategies are upstream of most of awake time spent by people living on this planet, with exceptions mostly caused by people being in danger of dying.
An attentive reader will notice that according to this framework teaching people rationality and self-awareness should directly reduce their reproductive fitness. Yes, very much so. But it's not that terrible, because the world has a serious deficit of people who do things for other reasons than their sexual strategy.
I've been known to cause outrage by suggesting that people who really care about something shouldn't have romantic relationships. Think what would happen if I dared to suggest that those people should also seriously consider getting castrated. That would be crazy! And who am I to suggest that basically everyone claiming to be doing good is faking it? Then people would feel bad about themselves. We can't have that!