Safe space

(Redirected from Safe-space)

The term safe space refers to places "intended to be free of bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening actions, ideas, or conversations".[2] The term originated in LGBT culture,[3] but has since expanded to include any place where a marginalized minority (e.g. gender, ethnic, religious) can come together to communicate regarding their shared experiences. Safe spaces are most commonly located on university campuses in the western world,[4] but also are at workplaces, as in the case of Nokia.[5]

An inverted pink triangle, surrounded by a green circle symbolising universal acceptance, to indicate alliance with gay rights and spaces free from homophobia. This symbol was introduced at anti-homophobia workshops from the Gay & Lesbian Urban Explorers in 1989.[1]

The terms safe space (or safe-space), safer space, and positive space may also indicate that a teacher, educational institution or student body does not tolerate violence, harassment, or hate speech, thereby creating a safe place for marginalized people.[6]

Countries edit

Australia edit

The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) which claims to represent 200,000 Muslims in Victoria stated that the Muslim community suffered mental health and other problems due to the suspicions to which it is subjected. The ICV proposed that Islamic community groups be given funds to create "safe spaces" where "inflammatory" issues could be discussed without being judged.[7] The government rejected the proposal and instigated a review of government funding towards the ICV.[7][8]

Canada edit

The Positive Space campaign was developed at the University of Toronto in 1995.[9] Positive Space initiatives have become prevalent in post-secondary institutions across Canada, including the University of Western Ontario,[10] McGill University,[11] the University of Toronto,[12] Algonquin College,[13] the University of British Columbia,[14] and Queen's University.[15] The Government of Canada also has a positive spaces initiative that began in 2009 to support LGBTQIA+ immigrants, refugees, and newcomers.[16]

In 2021, Justice Minister David Lametti sought to legislate the internet to be a safe space by introducing Bill C-36, which would remove hateful online content and issue fines to those who spread it, stating that the internet has become the new public square and "that public square should be a safe space".[17]

In 2023, the Ontario New Democratic Party proposed legally enforced safe spaces in Ontario, with Bill 94 (2SLGBTQI+ Community Safety Zones Act). The legislation would make "offensive remarks" an offense subject to a fine up to $25,000 if done within 100 metres of an LGBT event designated by an attorney general.[18][19][20]

United Kingdom edit

In early 2015, the increasing adoption of safe spaces in UK universities aroused controversy due to accusations that they were used to stifle free speech and differing political views.[21]

In September 2016, the then-Prime Minister, Theresa May, criticized universities for implementing "safe space" policies amid concerns that self-censorship was curtailing freedom of speech on campuses. The Prime Minister said it was "quite extraordinary" for universities to ban the discussion of certain topics that could cause offence. She warned that stifling free speech could have a negative impact on Britain's economic and social success.[22]

United States edit

In the United States, the concept originated in the gay liberation movement[23] and women's movement, where it "implies a certain license to speak and act freely, form collective strength, and generate strategies for resistance...a means rather than an end and not only a physical space but also a space created by the coming together of women searching for community." The first safe spaces were gay bars and consciousness raising groups.[24]

In 1989 Gay & Lesbian Urban Explorers (GLUE) developed a safe spaces program. During their events including diversity-training sessions and antihomophobia workshops, they passed out magnets with an inverted pink triangle, "ACT UP's...symbol", surrounded by a green circle to "symbolize universal acceptance," and asked "allies to display the magnets to show support for gay rights and to designate their work spaces free from homophobia."[25]

Advocates for Youth states on their website that a safe-space is "A place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome or challenged on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, age, or physical or mental ability; a place where the rules guard each person's self-respect, dignity and feelings and strongly encourage everyone to respect others."[26] However, some people consider safe space culture as a violation of the First Amendment and a mechanism for retreating from opinions which contrast with one's own.[27][28][29]

In general, "safe space culture" may be individuals or institutions which support a safe space for LGBT+ students and employees. They may offer or mandate staff training on diversity, include being a safe space in the organization's mission statement, develop and post a value statement in the organization's office, online, or on printed documents, or, if part of a coalition, encourage the coalition to include being a safe space in its mission and values.[30]

Criticism edit

Opponents of safe spaces argue that the idea stifles freedom of speech,[31][32][33] or blurs the line between security against physical harm and giving offense.[34] In response, advocates for safe spaces assert that people subject to hate speech are directly affected by it[35] and that safe spaces help maintain mental health.[citation needed]

In their 2015 essay in The Atlantic, "The Coddling of The American Mind", Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff warn of the rise of college campuses as safe spaces, and argue that valuing "emotional safety" as a sacred cause ignores practical and moral tradeoffs, exacerbates political polarization, and can stunt the emotional and intellectual development of students.[36] Writing for The New York Times in 2015, journalist Judith Shulevitz distinguished between meetings where participants consent to provide a safe space and attempts to make entire dormitories or student newspapers safe spaces. According to Shulevitz, the latter is a logical consequence of the former: "Once you designate some spaces as safe, you imply that the rest are unsafe. It follows that they should be made safer." She gave the example of a safe space at Brown University, when libertarian Wendy McElroy, who was known for criticizing the term "rape culture" was invited to give a speech: "The safe space ... was intended to give people who might find comments 'troubling' or 'triggering,' a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma."[37] The same year, journalist Conor Friedersdorf criticized the use of outdoor safe spaces to block press coverage of student protests. According to Friedersdorf, such uses reverse the intent of safe spaces: "This behavior is a kind of safe-baiting: using intimidation or initiating physical aggression to violate someone's rights, then acting like your target is making you unsafe."[38] Then-President Barack Obama also critiqued safe spaces as promoting intellectual disinterest:

Anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with 'em. But you shouldn't silence them by saying, 'You can't come because I'm too sensitive to hear what you have to say.' That's not the way we learn either.[39]

In 2016, British actor and writer Stephen Fry criticized safe spaces and trigger warnings as infantilizing students and possibly eroding free speech.[40][32] Frank Furedi of the Los Angeles Times and Candace Russell of HuffPost similarly stated that safe spaces contribute to echo chambers surrounded by like-minded people, insulating those inside said chambers from ideas that challenge or contradict their own.[41][42] Other speakers who have criticized the concept of safe spaces at universities include philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers,[43] and sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom.[44]

In 2016, the University of Chicago sent a letter welcoming new undergraduates, affirming its commitment to diversity, civility, and respect and informing them the college does not support trigger warnings, does not cancel controversial speakers, and does not "condone the creation of intellectual 'safe spaces' where individuals can retreat from thoughts and ideas at odds with their own".[45][46]

Despite the criticisms, some academics have defended safe spaces practices. Chris Waugh, a PhD student at the University of Manchester, draws on the work of Jurgen Habermas and Nancy Fraser to argue that safe spaces do not censor or impinge on free speech, but are "subaltern counterpublics"—that is, alternative discursive arenas where vulnerable groups can reconfigure and reframe their experiences of the dominant, public sphere, with the ultimate aim of returning to the public sphere better armed to combat their oppression. Safe spaces, therefore, "represent an often clumsy—but still vital—attempt to create counterpublics for marginalised groups. These counterpublics serve two purposes; first, they provide spaces for groups to recuperate, reconvene, and create new strategies and vocabularies for resistance. Second, the presence of these counterpublics makes visible collective and individual traumas that disrupt neoliberal narratives of self-resilience."[47]

Safe spaces in education are criticized for making students feel unable to express their ideas.[48] Boostrom (1998) argued that we cannot foster critical dialogue regarding social justice "by turning the classroom into a "safe space", a place in which teachers rule out conflict. ... We have to be brave because along the way we are going to be "vulnerable and exposed"; we are going to encounter images that are "alienating and shocking". We are going to be very unsafe."[49] Developing from Boostrom's ideas, in 2013 Brian Arao and Kristi Clemens introduced the term "brave space" to replace safe spaces for learning about diversity and social justice issues.[49][48] According to them, brave spaces have several characteristics: "controversy with civility", "owning intentions and impacts", "challenge by choice", "respect", and "no attacks".[49][50] National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) has proposed the term "brave space" to be adopted to replace safe spaces in campuses.[50] Michael Wilson, the principal of Magic City Acceptance Academy, a charter school in a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, called his school a brave space.[51]

In popular culture edit

"Safespace" is also the name of a proposed hero from Marvel Comics, who assists the New Warriors in their most recent incarnation alongside their sibling, "Snowflake", both non-binary. Snowflake possesses ice-based abilities similar to those of Iceman of the X-Men, while Safespace possesses the ability to generate reactive, defensive force fields that can only protect others.[52] While criticized by some as a mocking reference to the term's slang use, the idea is still going forward.[53][needs update]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Nicole Christine Raeburn (2004). Changing Corporate America from Inside Out: Lesbian and Gay Workplace Rights. University of Minnesota Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-0-8166-3998-4.
  2. ^ "Safe space Definition & Meaning". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  3. ^ Crockett, Emily (August 25, 2016). "Safe spaces, explained". Vox. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  4. ^ Amenabar, Teddy (19 May 2016). "The New Vocabulary of Protest". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  5. ^ The Safe Space Program Alcatel lucent, n.d., accessed 11 Nov 2017
  6. ^ Waldman, Katy (2016-09-05). "What science can tell us about trigger warnings". Slate. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  7. ^ a b "Muslim 'safe space' plan sparks row in Australia". BBC News. 2017-06-08. Retrieved 2017-06-11.
  8. ^ "Vic Islamic Council funding under review". News Com Au. Retrieved 2017-06-11.
  9. ^ "About: Overview". University of Toronto. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  10. ^ Safe Campus. "Safe Campus". University of Western Ontario. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  11. ^ "FAQ - Queer McGill". Archived from the original on 2013-06-21.
  12. ^ Office of Student Life. "Positive Space Campaign". University of Toronto. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  13. ^ "Positive Space | Counseling". Algonquin College. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  14. ^ Positive Space. "The Positive Space Campaign". University of British Columbia. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  15. ^ Queen's Positive Space Program. "The Queen's Positive Space Program". Queen's University. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  16. ^ "Positive Spaces Initiative". Government of Canada. 9 March 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  17. ^ Leavitt, Kieran (June 23, 2021). "Liberals unveil law to tackle online hate speech". Toronto Star. "The online world has become our world, for better or for worse," Justice Minister David Lametti told a news conference Wednesday."It has become another public square. That public square should be a safe space."
  18. ^ Jones, Allison (April 4, 2023). "Ontario NDP urges legal protections for drag performances". Global News. Ontario's NDP urged the government Tuesday to create community safety zones that would protect drag artists and LGBTQ communities from harassment and intimidation at their performances.
  19. ^ Hopper, Tristan (April 6, 2023). "Ontario MPP wants to demarcate areas in which 'offensive remarks' are illegal". National Post. "Offensive remarks," would be banned, even if in writing. So would distribution of literature, as well as any gathering deemed to be "furthering the objectives of homophobia and transphobia." Any contravention could net fines of up to $25,000, and a conviction under the section of the Criminal Code covering the causing of a "disturbance in or near a public place."
  20. ^ "Bill 94" (PDF). Ontario Legislative Assembly. April 4, 2023.
  21. ^ Dunt, Ian (6 February 2015). "Safe space or free speech? The crisis around debate at UK universities". The Guardian.
  22. ^ Hughes, Laura (14 September 2016). "Theresa May hits out at universities 'safe spaces' for stifling free speech". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  23. ^ Hanhardt, Christina B. (2013). Safe space : gay neighborhood history and the politics of violence. Durham. ISBN 978-0-8223-7886-0.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  24. ^ Kenney, Moira Rachel (2001). Mapping Gay L.A.: The Intersection of Place and Politics. Temple University Press. p. 24. ISBN 1-56639-884-3.
  25. ^ Raeburn, Nicole C. (2004). Changing Corporate America from Inside Out: Lesbian and Gay Workplace Rights. p. 209. ISBN 0-8166-3999-X.
  26. ^ "Glossary". Advocates for Youth. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  27. ^ volanteonline (19 September 2016). "Safe spaces disrupt the First Amendment".
  28. ^ "Safe Spaces Can Be Dangerous". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
  29. ^ "The Problems With Safe Spaces". The Odyssey Online. 2015-12-21. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
  30. ^ "Tips and Strategies for Creating a Safe Space for GLBTQ Youth". Advocates for Youth. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  31. ^ Ash, Timothy Garten (16 September 2016). "Safe spaces are not the only threat to free speech". The Guardian.
  32. ^ a b Fry, Stephen (12 April 2016). "Stephen Fry: Campus Safe Spaces Are Stupid and Infantile".
  33. ^ Slater, Tom (15 January 2016). "The tyranny of safe spaces". Spiked. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  34. ^ Trigger Warning: Safe Spaces Are Dangerous (debate)
  35. ^ "Free Speech Controversy Erupts At Middlebury College".
  36. ^ Lukianoff, Greg; Haidt, Jonathan (September 2015). "How Trigger Warnings Are Hurting Mental Health on Campus". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  37. ^ Shulevitz, Judith (March 21, 2015). "In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas". Op-ed. The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  38. ^ Friedersdorf, Conor (November 10, 2015). "Campus Activists Weaponize 'Safe Space'". Politics. The Atlantic. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  39. ^ Nelson, Libby (September 14, 2015). "Obama on liberal college students who want to be "coddled": "That's not the way we learn"". Politics. Vox. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  40. ^ George, Bowden (11 April 2016). "Stephen Fry Speaks About Erosion Of 'Free Speech' On Student Campuses In Controversial Rubin Report Interview". HuffPost. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  41. ^ Furedi, Frank (2017-01-05). "Campuses are breaking apart into 'safe spaces'". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  42. ^ Russell, Candice (2015-04-13). "Safe Spaces and Echo Chambers, How Progressive Movements Stagnate Themselves". HuffPost. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  43. ^ Arnold, Tyler (October 14, 2016). "Safe spaces a 'recipe for fanaticism,' Hoff Sommers claims". Campus Reform.
  44. ^ DeRuy, Emily. "The Fine Line Between Safe Space and Segregation" The Atlantic, August 17, 2016.
  45. ^ "University Of Chicago Tells Freshmen It Does Not Support 'Trigger Warnings'".
  46. ^ Students were directed to for more information.
  47. ^ Waugh, Chris (2019). "In Defence of Safe Spaces: Subaltern Counterpublics and Vulnerable Politics in the Neoliberal University". In Breeze, Maddie; Taylor, Yvette; Costa, Cristina (eds.). Time and Space in the Neoliberal University. Springer International Publishing. pp. 143–168. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-15246-8_7. ISBN 978-3-030-15246-8. S2CID 197804696. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  48. ^ a b Flensner, Karin K.; Von der Lippe, Marie (4 May 2019). "Being safe from what and safe for whom? A critical discussion of the conceptual metaphor of 'safe space'". Intercultural Education. 30 (3): 275–288. doi:10.1080/14675986.2019.1540102. hdl:1956/22226.
  49. ^ a b c Arao, B.; Clemens, K. (2013). "From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces: A New Way to Frame Dialogue around Diversity and Social Justice" (PDF). In Landreman, L. M. (ed.). The Art of Effective Facilitation: Reflections from Social Justice Educators. Sterling, VA: Stylus. pp. 135–150. ISBN 9781579229740.
  50. ^ a b Ali, Diana (2017). "Safe Spaces and Brave Spaces: Historical Context and Recommendations for Student Affairs Professionals" (PDF). Research and Policy Institute, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  51. ^ McGibney, Megan (14 June 2022). "Magic City Acceptance Academy Is a Haven for LGBTQ Students as Legislators Attack Their Rights". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  52. ^ "Introducing the New 'New Warriors'". Marvel Entertainment.
  53. ^ Marr, Rhuaridh (March 21, 2020). "Marvel branded "tone-deaf" for non-binary superhero called 'Snowflake'". Archived from the original on March 22, 2020.

External links edit