I found the reading “Feminist Hackerspaces as Safer Spaces?” very thought-provoking. I have visited very inclusive, open, and friendly hackerspaces, and though they were not specifically for women, I felt perfectly safe and at ease. Many of the spaces’ by-laws worked to construct a “safespace” environment for all members of the community– the #1 tenet of the first havckerspace I ever visited was “Be Excellent (to each other)”. The wiki on safe-spaces quotes Advocates for Youth, defining a safe-space as: “A place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe 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 and dignity and strongly encourage everyone to respect others”. I wish for all communities to strive to be safe-spaces. But, the term safe-space is unsettling to me, and maybe others are perturbed by it as well. To me, the word ‘safe’ has connotations of being safe *from* someone. It conjures images of both a victim and a predator. Safe is a word with weight, and I worry it may serve to exclude rather than facilitate inclusion. I feel like this sense of ‘other’ that ‘safe’ can convey is detrimental to all members of a community– queer or straight, male or female.
The author mentioned the term ‘radical inclusion’ early in the piece– perhaps this could be a more fitting moniker? A google search of radical inclusion lead me straight to burning man–It is one of the ten principles of the festival. “We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.” Bullying, harassment, and violence can not be tolerated. All deserve safety. Yet, I cant help but feel that ‘safespace’ just isn’t the right word for the ideal it connotes. This piece really was a sort of can of worms for me– got a lot to contemplate on!