To be Critical of Safe Spaces
It is not ridiculous to suggest the absolute necessity of safe spaces. For victims of sexual violence and violence generally, safe spaces serve an important function in guaranteeing the safety of victims of violence. On the other hand, for a victim of sexual violence or some other form of violence or threat, what does it mean to admit an individual whom the space cannot guarantee their or others’ safety by such an admittance?
The problem with safe spaces is that they presume inclusion within a context where universal inclusion is almost entirely impossible. The choice comes down to establishing a safe space or establishing a universal space. Both cannot coexist within certain localized sites of struggle.
The fundamental problem is that safe spaces usually defer into a legalistic arena, for funding among other things, that presumes both. Within the law, which reflects only a blurry often times grotesque distortion of the distribution of power, doing so with the codified patina of equal representation, all prima fasci legal entities must be universally inclusive as well as serve their stated goals. Thus, it is this legitimizing function of the state that degrades the real character of safe spaces. Safe spaces are recognized legally as safe spaces only insofar as they are recognized as such by the sate, a condition which either violates the premise of safety or the necessary requirements of universal inclusion. The legitimate safe space is therefore by definition, illegitimate.
To build communities outside the legitimizing functions of state and law have proven, at least rhetorically, to have been monstrous disasters (yet in some capacity, they mark fundamental advances in the struggle). The absolute contradiction of the state against itself, a proletarian dictatorship, proved much too brutal for liberal petty bourgeois reformers to desire a full commitment, a commitment necessary to truly challenge oligarchies and bourgeois statism.
Meanwhile, the Black Panthers reminded the petty bourgeois reformers of what those commitments would have entailed in word and deed. Accusations of patriarchy and abuse notwithstanding, the BPP leaned closer to universalism than safety.
Safe spaces need to convey these inherent contradictions more clearly to the communities they serve. There needs to be an understanding of the problems in such institutions and these need to be communicated to the wider context with minimal occlusion. Often times, this mechanism of occlusion serves as protection against the prying eyes of the state, for it is in the ignorance of the multitudes that the state can carry on in its legitmizing/delegitimizing role and minimize and/or neutralize popular discontent. The answer is to find with absolute precision those channels of information where by the interpretive schema is sufficiently decoded and revealed to law enforcement and statist mechanisms, and here the flow of information must be absolutely choked off. Meanwhile, it is a fundamental necessity that the interpretive schema be as widely available so as to educate the multitudes and increase their consciousness, not fall into a naive and passive trust, and further their autonomous individual struggles as well as the popular struggle.