Mar. 4th, 2009

eruthros: Wizard of Oz: Dorothy in black and white, text "rainbow" in rainbow colors (Dorothy singing rainbow)
Take Back the Night at my undergrad university had a strict policy that only (self-identified) women could march; there was an ally's meeting for men to talk about violence against women. And there were two ways that men dealt with this:

"But I'm an ally! I support you! Don't you want men to support you? You can't fight this battle alone. Is this equality? Don't you want people to stop using gender to divide us?" etc This is the ally as Nice Guy TM, as a self-defined ally -- as an asshole.

"Part of my support involves not intruding on your space -- and hey, the men's meeting sounds really informative! Is there anything else I can do to help? I could make posters -- I have smelly markers!" This is the ally as actual nice guy.

***

I've been thinking about safe spaces lately, both in offline and online life. I've been thinking about the degree to which some people don't understand what a safe space is, and what it means -- a self-determined space, a space I declare safe, a space under my control. When the above asshole tries to march with me, he's saying: I know what is safe for you. I know that I'm okay and I declare that you are not allowed to be uncomfortable around me, because I'm an ALLY, so therefore you're just being mean. He is saying: your emotional reactions are just ridiculous. He is saying: I will call myself an ally, but never respect your ability to speak, to define yourself and your spaces. He doesn't understand that sometimes a safe space means he's not invited.
safe spaces )

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eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)
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