A DRAFT SAFER SPACES POLICY/GUIDELINES. OBVIOUSLY UP FOR DISCUSSION!.STEVEN BENSON

1.WHY is there a need for a safer spaces policy?

Because we live in an unequal, normativising, sometimes prejudiced world, where , for example, women, lgbt/queer people, people from ethnic minorities(these are only examples!)sometimes experience verbal abuse/harrassment, marginalisation,fear of being themselves because of possible  reprisals from others around them. A concrete example: myself and another gay man were discussing lgbt issues and Queer Theory in a fairly crowded cafe; we were aware of the people around us, looking out for possible homophobia, we muted our voices(but were not silenced-so there is no “victim identarianism” re safer spaces policies)

2. WHERE/IN WHAT SITUATIONS  does a community need a safer spaces policy? Well, if a community (or a subsection thereof)meets in a semi-public(eg cafe/bar) or wholly public(eg a park) space; see point 1. above for the reasons for this need.

3. WHAT WOULD /COULD(IN MY OPINION) A SAFER SPACES POLICY CONSIST OF?

1.that at least we can ATTEMPT to avoid, eg cafes, where there is likely to be problems, eg a regular known troublemaker/disrupter; in Liverpool we can choose, eg,places more likely(we can make no guarantee in the outside world)to be less  likely to be sexist/racist/antigay. For instance, I and a friend formed two lgbt groups and we, without really even thinking, chose a rota of lgbt -friendly venues,ie. “Camp and furnace”, “The Egg”, “The Brink” etc, for our meetings. Hitherto, touch wood, we have had no homophobic incidents, though that possibility, as I say,can never be WHOLLY ruled out; it is just a case of doing our best to lessen it. So, in reference to the two lgbt groups, this policy has WORKED for over a year: we have chosen our venues  as carefully as realistically possible in a largely hegemonic world.

2. It would stress that people, as INDIVIDUALS, can, obviously,choose to visit any place they like; that is self-evidently THEIR business; but when a group or subgroup of a community comes together to meet in a public or semipublic space(eg a cafe),the safety(as much as can possibly be forethought), physically, psychologically or emotionally,of any ONE individual must be the priority; if ONE individual feels unsafe , for whatever reason, that should be respected, and the venue should be changed. This might have to be at short notice without FULL community consultation(though if there were time, full consultation would obviously occur). In a community of which I am part, there was an example of such a situation: we changed venue(necessarily at short notice and only with time to consult a few people because another meeting was due and we needed to change venues swiftly and inform the members of this subgroup of a community-therefore itself a community-quickly too). Someone felt unsafe; we moved cafes; we informed as many people as realistically possible within the time-scale.This was appropriate and would form part of a safer spaces “protocol” for implemenatation.

3. I wrote “FEELS”{sic} unsafe.a I have heard one person argue that it is upto individuals/ the group concerned to “challenge” offensive (in this case, verbal) behaviour. In a safer spaces policy this would not be appropriate, I would very strongly argue; and I would argue it would often be inappropriate anyway, unless the person who had received the abuse/prejudice CHOSE to tackle/educate the person(and under no duress from any other member of the group)b.  The person who says they feel unsafe should be fully believed and appropriate action taken-eg to change venue, see 2 above

(There are more aspects I would think to a safer spaces policy but the group concerned is going to research them, backing them up with critical thinking/philosophy and imaginative texts)

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ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)
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