In part I think that feminism
is controversial because people don't know
what it is -- they misinterpret it as being
a movement that wants to blithely take
power away from men and give it to women.
They also think that it's a laundry
list of irrelevant requirements -- you
must not shave, etc... The other reason
that many people reject feminism is because
people do know what it means and fear
that they either aren't worthy of the
label (i.e. they aren't resolved enough
with their body image issues or political
enough with their school's policies)
or they aren't strong enough to use it.
Feminism does require some responsibility
to speak up and to take action and
sometimes people fear that will require
them to challenge things and people
they like and also that they don't
want to disrupt things. In reality
though, more people simply live feminist
lives even if they don't use that word.
I think it's important to prioritize
those actions than the words.