Safe spaces are so important to so many marginalized people who feel like they can’t safely use their true voice elsewhere.
A safe space is a place where you can let go, be yourself, relax, speak your mind, and listen to each other. These are all key components of the notion of safe spaces. People with shared experiences and perhaps even traumas come together to give voice to their inner true selves. A safe space doesn’t only have to be a physical space, i.e. a room where people meet to hang out or have different discussions in a comfortable manner. It can also be more of an abstract idea as long as everyone is aware to be more sensitive to the stories that other people are sharing in this environment. Any space can be considered safe, as long as people agree that they are feeling comfortable enough to be in it without judgment. You can also find virtual safe spaces online in which you can let your guard down and converse with people of similar backgrounds.
Why Are They Necessary?
For a lot of people, safe spaces don’t even make sense or they can’t even comprehend why they would be necessary at all. Typically, this can be a sign of either privilege or simply not being exposed to certain people’s experiences out in the world. Life is not the same for everyone and the identity, background, and everyday exposure of each individual plays a huge role for them. A lot of places can have safe spaces depending on the nature of the said place. Most usually, universities in the western world offer safe spaces to people who need and request them. Sometimes the faculty has already decided on a physical space for the students to share and feel safe in, other times the students themselves choose spaces for different groups of people who need them.
Getting back to the idea that some people find safe spaces baffling or are somehow just against the concept even existing; this can, unfortunately, be a common opinion shared among people who are privileged in their identities. If you’ve never had to think about your human rights in a context in which your humanity is being questioned and threatened over and over, then of course the concept of safe spaces sounds absurd. However, for a lot of people by simply existing as a person of color or as a person outside of general social norms, you are usually prone to hatred and/or bigotry. This is why, while it’s not a permanent solution or maybe we shouldn’t even think of it as a ‘solution’ per se, these spaces are needed in order to make everyone feel welcome in sharing their thoughts and feelings.
Who Are They For?
Despite what many people say safe spaces can in fact do some good, especially for those who are a bit shyer or scared to open up. Not only that, but these spaces can be for people within different health-related spectrums, people of any sexuality other than the one that’s societally accepted, people with different gender identities, and even for students afraid of public speaking. On a college campus, for example, you can see different corners labeled as safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community or other minorities in relation to ethnicity. Basically, as aforementioned, any person belonging to a marginalized identity or group of people can be welcomed to either be a part of or even create such a space for themselves. People outside these spaces also need to learn to be respectful and understand boundaries because if a safe space is violated then the people within can be left feeling awful as a result.
Ultimately, just as a society we need to learn to listen and to better understand the needs of each other. It would be great if safe spaces were not needed at all for anyone, but the facts of reality are that generally people are not that open and accepting. This is why, unfortunately, bigotry is so widespread everywhere you go. Thankfully you also have so many people fighting against that kind of ugliness. There are always beautiful and ugly things about everything on Earth, and safe spaces do make it possible for all people to share their ideas in a judgment-free zone so that we can all still have a voice and hopefully advance towards a more productive society together.
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