Hey, Everyday Feminists! If you haven’t heard these words today, let me be the first to tell you: I love you.
Really, I do. This community has created a safe space for productive dialogue to educate us about one another.
Sometimes we can take this openness and understanding for granted, so I just wanted to say thank you.
Thank you for your compassion, support, commentary, and ability to question everything.
Thanks, also, for providing us with truly fascinating topic suggestions, like this one that we received recently:
“I think it would be great to explore this perception of Feminism as ‘Common Sense’ that so many of your readers have. Not that I disagree with the concept, ‘Feminism is common sense,’ but because I think there are a lot of misperceptions (of) what ‘Common sense’ really means in a broader, societal sense. I sincerely hope you take this into consideration.”
Whoever you are, I sincerely hope you continue to write to us here at Everyday Feminism!
Common Sense Isn’t Actually Common
Because we all have different lived experiences, what we consider to be “Common Sense” can vary greatly.
For example, people who are more privileged in the class department might think it is Common Sense to start a four-year university education straight out of high school.
But if someone doesn’t have a more affluent lifestyle, is it Common Sense for them to go into thousands of dollars of debt once they enter the “Real World?” I don’t know about that.
At the end of the day, all parties consider it Common Sense to work with what they have to further serve themselves. Kind of like low-risk, reasonable selfishness.
Common Sense is relative to the experience and needs of the individual.
Come Together – Sort Of
At the risk of sounding trite, we all do have one thing in common, regardless of background or walk of life: We all want what’s best for ourselves.
That’s not to say that you don’t have altruistic intentions, but let’s be real: We all have a mental list of priorities, and we all place our own health and prosperity somewhere significant in that list. And that’s totally normal and okay.
We can all agree on the fact that we need to take care of ourselves and our own. It seems like a shaky foundation, but it’s better than nothing, right?
We all need to survive. It’s the ultimate need.
Does Everyone Really Need Feminism, Though?
Disclaimer: If replacing the word “Feminism” with “Humanism” or “Equality” in general will help you sleep at night, please know that I agree with all those concepts. I don’t want you to dismiss what I have to say based on my terminology. Thanks in advance!
Social activism in general can seem like a fringe issue.
How many times have you heard someone imply that equality is unimportant compared the so-called “Real Issues?”
Hold on, though. What are the “Real Issues?”
Usually, when people want to seem pragmatic in their criticisms of world issues, they tend to bring up economic problems and war.
Those are real issues, but that doesn’t mean that they are the only ones or that feminism is separate from them.
Feminism and ‘Real Issues’
Feminism and the U.S. Economy
In the case of economic issues, the fact that women still earn less than men absolutely affects the United States economy in a real way.
In a recent study, it was determined that nearly forty percent of poor working women could leave welfare programs if they were to receive pay equity wage increases.
This “feminist issue” affects the state of life of the American worker and government aid programs. Seems pretty important to me.
If we move in the direction of gender equality, that means about half of the population will be more self-sufficient and able to energize the economy as consumers.
Feminism can support the underrepresented so that everyone can benefit.
So, hold on, if we all benefit from equality, what’s the actual problem here? Change? Admitting that maybe some policies were straight-up discriminatory? Adjusting hourly wage expenses by no more than 3.7 percent? Giving women and minorities the credit they deserve as equal human beings?
I think we can handle that, especially if it ultimately helps everyone when all is said and done.
Feminism and the U.S. Military
No, I’m not talking about the War on Women currently wreaking havoc on reproductive justice.
I’m talking about something that makes a nationalistic country rooted in colonialism even more uncomfortable: There are actual flaws in our military.
Of course, I appreciate the sacrifice and true love it takes to volunteer to defend a nation. That is no small feat. Veterans and current military members, you kick major ass, and I salute you. Make no mistake.
However, in the United States Armed Forces, there are issues that affect marginalized people in a truly grotesque way. One is sexual assault among American soldiers.
To put it in perspective, there are people who sexually assault others in their workplace, it goes underreported, and the perpetrator is often allowed to go back to work even if they are found guilty.
Add into the mix that the victims are already making traumatic sacrifices before the sexual assault even happens, and then they face multiple challenges in receiving care for Military Sexual Trauma afterwards.
For all the love we have for our soldiers and veterans in this country, the fact that it has taken this long to make changes in how we punish perpetrators is especially harrowing.
The United States majorly relies on its military, especially in an age where fear is the only thing more rampant than terrorism itself. If we honor and provide for our armed forces, they will be able to provide even better protection for us, right?
I’d like to think that’s reason enough for the new Military Justice Improvement legislation to pass, fully supported.
Feminism gives voice and support to fellow citizens, who can, in turn, serve you.
Hopefully, changes in legislature and increased awareness will transform a hush-hush “feminist” issue into action to aid victims and further improve our armed forces.
Varying Degrees of Feminism as Common Sense
I’m not saying that it makes sense for everyone to center all conversations around the faults of patriarchy, drop everything to get a Master’s in Gender Studies, and take work off to go to every SlutWalk you can. That would probably leave you friendless and broke.
However, if you are a parent, it makes sense to watch Disney Channel over your kids’ shoulders to observe what messages they’re receiving about how to treat others.
Your kids, your responsibility. If they grow up to be sexist cretins, Disney Channel won’t be the only one to blame. Just sayin’.
Your financial situation and current job may not allow you to be out of the closet at work. It isn’t common sense to lose your job and blow your savings over declaring your sexual identity or orientation. It is, however, common sense to privately support Anti-Discrimination legislature, for the sake of yourself and your community.
As selfish as it sounds, it can actually be helpful to think “What’s in it for me?”
Humans and issues are all interconnected, so making someone else’s life easier can help you, indirectly or otherwise.
You can tailor your activism and involvement to benefit yourself and your loved ones.
Common sense, right?
Maddie McClouskey is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. She’s a twenty-something lesbian in New York City and currently writes weekly dating advice pieces for the LGBTQ event app and website SheSeekOnline and was a regular contributor to the sexuality and feminism site ToughxCookies. When she’s not writing articles about gayness, she’s performing stand-up comedy, singing show tunes to her girlfriend and dog against their will, or making up jokes for Twitter @SoundofMaddie. Read her articles here.