Vir Cotto's BDSM Blog

Safe spaces are about excluding (you) and that's okay

As a dominant cis het man in the scene, I've had to accept a long time ago that there are spaces that I'm not allowed in. Some exclude me because I'm dominant, some exclude me because I'm white, some exclude me because I'm cis male. I had to throw away that stick up my ass that told me that I should be allowed to go anywhere I want to go and be included in any group I want to be included in.

I've also learned to stop asking why. It ultimately doesn't matter why someone else may want to exclude a certain group from their events. Knowing why is useful, but only in an academic sense, and sometimes asking why can be seen as a form of harassment.

And if that were all there was to say, I wouldn't need to make a writing on it.

What concerns me is the conflict between the idea of safe spaces vs inclusion. Groups who have been historically underrepresented or discriminated against want to be included in safe spaces for other groups- specific safe spaces created by minority populations to support each other. That's understandable. After all, who would want to be excluded? Being excluded is terrible. But I can't help but be a bit surprised at the lack of sensitivity around this issue.

I hate being excluded. Maybe it goes back to being last (or never) picked for teams on the playground, or being alone in my room when other kids were outside playing. Being told 'You can't join our special club' feels like a kick in the gut. But I've learned to get over that feeling because it's not my place to judge another's needs.

Let's be honest here...

It's not possible to be entirely safe and entirely inclusive at the same time.

We can do our best... And goodness knows we try to do our best. Groups I belong to try to be as open and welcoming to all people. But I know that in a group that includes heterosexuals, that homosexuals won't feel entirely safe. I know that in a group of mixed race people, people of color won't feel entirely safe. In a group of cis people, trans people won't feel entirely safe, no matter what I do.

So when a group says that they're being exclusionary, whoever you are, you don't have to like it, but they don't have to change either. If you feel angry or hurt- you have an absolute right to those feelings. But you don't have the right to force them to let you in, or to change their practices.

What you can do is try your best to practice love and inclusion, and maybe when you run your own events, take your feeling of indignation and consider putting it towards inclusivity and education as your means of achieving safety. It's the more difficult path, but then no one needs to feel like you do now.