Let us now examine the last of the NOWSA conference's “safer space” rules.
Some More Rules – Privilege and Victim-Blaming
We will begin where we left off last time (yes, I will be critiquing every rule on the list.)
“-Try to be conscious of and communicate your own needs while also being attentive to and respecting of other people’s.
- Be responsible for your own action. Be aware that your actions do have an effect on others despite what your intentions may be.”
I honestly have no idea what these rules are about. They are far too vague, but once again the liberal inventors of these safe space rules appear to stressing the importance of merely thinking the right way instead of acting the right way through their use of phrases like “be conscious” and “be aware”. I call vague or otherwise difficult to understand statements like this “liberish” (the word is a combination of “liberal” and “gibberish”.)
“- Challenge inappropriate and oppressive behaviour, including your own, and if possible support people to challenge their own behaviour. This includes an awareness of your own or other peoples privileges, which may include: race, class, gender, age, sexuality, experience and ability.
(see the “feminist discussion group” discussion thread on “The UMSU Wom*n’s Department!” facebook page for links to readings on privilege!).”
Again we see the importance which liberals attribute to “awareness” of problems. I have never really liked the concept of “privilege”, which is not to say that what liberals call "privilege" does not exist, rather I do not think "privilege" is a useful term for understanding how men and women, whites and blacks, rich and poor, etc. interact in our society.
I think focussing on all the ways in which we are “privileged” encourages us to downplay our own oppression and thus discourages us from engaging in political activism. There is always going to be someone who is more oppressed than you, but that does not mean that you should shut up and deal with the oppression that you face. Even white, middle-income males are by no means the most powerful group within our society (though white males do tend to be more powerful than non-whites and women.) That would be the capitalist class and yet I never see anyone telling capitalists to “check their privilege”.
I fail to see what we accomplish by asking people to acknowledge that they have privilege. Is our aim to create some sort of humble feeling among males, whites and other dominant groups or are we trying to bring about actual changes in the way these groups behave? Any man can “check his privilege” by reading some formal statement in front of a group of women and then continue watching hard core pornography every night, interrupting women when they speak and so forth. I suggest that instead of telling males to ceremonially “check their privilege” so that women can have warm, fuzzy feelings, we should be telling them to stop behaving in an aggressive, dominating and masculine manner and instead behave like decent human beings, so that women can actually be free from rape and abuse in the real world (that liberals seem determined to ignore.)
Of course, readers are free to disagree with me about this point and to express their disagreement in the comment section. Unlike liberals I think that criticism and self-criticism are good things. If anything I say ever seems racist, homophobic or unjustifiably prejudiced, feel free to criticise me for it and tell me how I can do better. I fail to see how simply informing people that they have “privilege” over and over and over again, can help them improve the way in which they behave towards others. I think "check your power" would be a more useful phrase than "check your privilege" and should be followed by "stop behaving in a dominant manner". It may not be a terribly catchy phrase, but it is more honest and useful, since it addresses something individuals can actually change, their actions.
“Get help to assure your safety/wellbeing if you need it (see grievance blurb for more info r.e. support on offer).”
This implies that it is the job of women to prevent rape and other traumatic events from happening to them. Women do not need rules mandating that they look after their own safety, since not getting raped/attacked is already in their self interest. I have nothing against women who try to protect themselves from rape, but creating rules which make such action mandatory implies that women who fail to prevent their own rapes are guilty of wrongdoing. The last thing rape victims need to be told is that they should have gotten “help to assure [their] safety/wellbeing” beforehand.
This points to a more general problem with this list of rules and perhaps liberal discourse in general. It seems they cannot tell the difference between behaviours that may be good ideas (e.g. asking for consent before hugging someone, protecting yourself from violence) and behaviours that ought to be mandatory (e.g. asking for consent before having sex.)
“- We would like all the workshops to be sober spaces. During events where alcohol will be present be aware of how the consumption of alcohol and other substances can affect your behaviour in ways that impact on others. If you so choose, drink & be merry, just make sure you do so safely & responsibly.”
Alcohol companies never define what they mean by “drink responsibly” and, apparently, neither do liberal feminists. I guess they would rather not interfere with the alcohol industry’s profits.
“- Any group or individual engaging in violence (including sexual violence and harassment) or offensive behaviour of the nature outlined above may be asked to leave immediately. This includes expression of pro-non-consent views.”
If we assume that this statement is meant to be taken literally, then a person can be kicked out for speaking too much, touching somebody in a non-sexual, non-aggressive way without their consent or making a statement that is not an “I” statement, since the other points on the list imply that these behaviours are “offensive” and wrong. Of course actual violence and sexual harassment should not be allowed and people with “pro-non-consent” (which I assume means “pro-rape”) views should not be attending the conference to begin with.
That said I have only ever heard of one case where the organisers of a liberal feminist conference forcibly evicted a group of attendants. In May of 2013, members of an anti-pornography organisation called “Stop Patriarchy” were removed from a liberal conference regarding abortion rights. They were allegedly removed for breaking some of the rules listed above (they had the guts to make general statements about women and abortion, how horrible) but given that some of the rules are downright ridiculous, I suspect that everyone was breaking them and I do not think it is a coincidence that they got expelled right after an argument that they had with a group of “empowered sex workers”. I daresay that the rules were used as an excuse to censor anti-pornography discourse.
This brings me to the end of the list of liberal “safer space” rules. I hope you have enjoyed this journey. If you have, I doubt you will want to attend the NOWSA conference or any similar event which involves listening to liberals make “I” statements about how much they love pornography and boob jobs while trying very hard not to touch each other by accident. I hope you find a more pleasant way to spend your time.
“This is the Safer Spaces Policy from UMSU’s Queer & Wom*n’s Departments’ "Rad Sex & Consent Week 2012”
I am not at all surprised to find out that these rules came from an event devoted to discussing the benefits of hard core “feminist” pornography, BDSM and painful anal intercourse. They clearly promote individualism and encourage us to put more emphasis on changing our thoughts than changing the world. Oh and by the way, critically analysing sexual activities to determine whether they are egalitarian or not is way more radical than having sex will ever be.
|An event involving workshops on "Feminist Porn", "BDSM", "Fisting" and "Anal Play for Everyone"|
That concludes my discussion of liberal "safe spaces". I was going to feature the whole the poster for "Rad Sex and Consent Week" , so you could all see for yourself what was being promoted, but the writing on it was too small, so you will just have to trust me. I guess even liberals can be embarressed by what they promote.