Belenen (belenen) wrote,

there is no "safe space" from oppression: instead we need a safer space where we grow and learn

icon: "Renenutet (a relief carving of Renenutet, represented as a winged cobra, overlaid with a fractal coloring)"

There is no way to exclude oppression by sorting according to identity. There is no space that is safe for all people in it no matter how specific you get, because oppression is such a tangled web of interconnected forces.

I face oppression for being trans, queer, ADHD, autistic, hard of hearing (auditory processing disorder), anxious, depressed, non-binary, lower class, read as a woman, and fat. I face marginalization for being femme and gender-non-conforming, non-monogamous, and atheist. Not a single one of these identities would provide safety for me as a shared-identity group.

In trans-only spaces, I have faced classism, ableism, sexism, binary-ism (believing that non-binary is not real), thin supremacy, and marginalization. In queer-only and fat-only spaces, I faced all of those plus cis-centrism. In fat-only spaces, I have faced all of those. In non-monogamous, femme, and atheist spaces I have faced literally all of the isms that exist for me.

Non-binary spaces have been a safer space for me because anxiety, depression, autism, ADHD, and being poor are normalized, and of course non-binary people are affirmed as real, and straight cis people are not centered. However in non-binary spaces there is STILL a normative expectation of a "body journey" involving specific medical steps; there is a pattern of AMAB people feeling unwelcome or alienated due to being tokenized; being femme is devalued; and other oppressive forces like racism, ableism, and thin supremacy are present. Everyone is assumed to be non-disabled when it comes to sensory or motor disabilities. I have noticed that the thinner, white, masc-aesthetic AFAB people are more likely to speak up and come back and I feel like that means we are not providing enough sense of community to fat people, AMAB people, femme people, and people of color.

Disability justice has been a safer space for me because depression, anxiety, autism, and ADHD are normalized, and often being poor is normalized as well (but almost as often, classist assumptions are made). But there is still a lack of effort on the part of sighted, hearing people and people who do not have mobility or dexterity disabilities to make sure that all resources are accessible. There is still a stigma against people with cluster-B mental health diagnoses. Cis-centrism, sexism, and thin supremacy are common.

A lot of cis people can be accidentally hurtful and exhausting to be around due to their ignorance of trans-ness, but I have friends who I forget are cis, because they have put in real effort to unlearn habits that center cis people. And I have known people who are trans who make me feel incredibly unsafe because they want to enforce some kind of trans identity standard.

A lot of men enact oppression by talking over others, dismissing people, expecting to be served, etc, but I have friends who are men who are much less likely to do this than many women I know. That is because this behavior comes from being part of the dominant class and is just most OBVIOUS in men (where it is celebrated).

I have never felt safe from sexism in a women-only space, not to mention the lack of safety from cis-centrism and binary-ism. And I have read from many Black women and other women of color who have said that women-only spaces that include white women are usually (if not always) unsafe for women of color.

I do think that having groups where everyone shares an identity can be very healing and is absolutely necessary when that identity is devalued or erased. But there is no escape from oppression, and the illusion of escaping it only exists for those who are the most privileged in the space.

Instead of framing a shared-identity space as a safe space where people can be "free," I want us to frame them as a safer space where everyone is as open to recognizing difference as they are to recognizing sameness. I want safer spaces to be places where expressions of oppression are called out with the goal of everyone learning and growing, and the understanding that everyone needs to learn about their own privilege and change.
Tags: disability, facebook-first crossposts, fatness, femme, gender, growth, queerness, social justice / feminism, transness

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