Monthly Archives: October 2015

Content Warnings, Safe Spaces and Privilege. What could possibly go wrong?

***Content Note: Richard Dawkins: Nuff said. Mention of childhood sexual abuse.***
There’s a Richard Dawkins quote from Twitter about university and safe spaces doing the rounds.
“A university is not a “safe space”. If you need a safe space, leave, go home, hug your teddy & suck your thumb until ready for university.”
A friend posted this and agreed with it. I’m not in a good enough place for an internet argument with this person’s friends who also agree with it so I sent this as a PM.

If I remember correctly that Dawkins’ quote is in relation to Content Warnings as well as Safe Spaces. Content Warnings do not exist so that people with “delicate sensibilities” can get out of any lectures on that topic. Their purpose is so that people who may find certain topics triggering have advance notice and can be more prepared to encounter them. Or, if they are having a really bad time, can keep themselves safe until they can manage it.
I’ll give you a real life example of this. I went to see a play based on a much loved tv old series. Unfortunately the modern play decided that paedophilia was something to joke about. I freaked out and left part way through in tears. I wasn’t the only one. Four other people in our vicinity left with me. I didn’t know them. On my way home I remembered that a friend of mine who was a victim of a paedophile had tickets to this play later in the week. I called them, still in tears, and did my best to explain without spoilers but that wasn’t possible so I explained. They gave it some thought and decided they’d still go. However they said that if they’d encountered it the way I had they’d likely be running out like I did. That is what Content Warnings are for.
Safe Spaces allow people like me, people of colour, LGBT+, mentally ill, physically ill, and religious minorities to be able to interact without having those things used as weapons against us. And they are still used against us. I was a victim of a racially aggravated hate crime on Wednesday. Dawkins’ comment sounds like an irate toddler throwing a tantrum at not getting his own way. He doesn’t like having to respect people who are a bit different or may need different support to him. I believe we should be supporting people who need a bit more help to access higher education. It’s not just for able-bodied, mentally well, white, Christian, cis-het, well off people. That’s what Dawkins is saying. He seems to have zero respect or empathy for anyone who isn’t the same as him. Newsflash! Most people aren’t like him. We’re different and many of us have different needs.
Will some people abuse a safe space policy? Probably but getting rid of something just because a tiny, tiny minority of people are frauds is ridiculous. It’s like getting rid of disability benefits because only 99.3% of claimants are genuine. That’s messed up.
Dawkins doesn’t realise just how lucky he is. He has pretty much all the advantages and none of the disadvantages that others may have. He’ll probably never need a Safe Space for they are a lifeline for people like me. I know lots of people think like this but it’s still rather terrifying to be reminded of it.

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A text dump rant. Pay no attention. You won’t like it.

This rant is being brought to you by Too Little Sleep, Too Much Energy Expended, Too Ill To Cope, and I’m Not Freaking Out About The Flecks Of Blood That I Coughed Up Yesterday, Honest! (It’s tiny amounts and most likely nothing but Evil Brain Pixies!) I hope it makes sense.

There was an article on cultural appropriation. A woman of colour wrote about why white belly dancers annoy her. What a friend of a friend, who saw the article across the table on my tablet, said to me in the pub was that if PoC don’t want white people doing belly dancing or Indian dancing then Scots should stop Americans from wearing kilts because it’s Exactly the same thing. *facepalm* There was other stuff too but I’m too tired to repeat every single bit of fail,

I tried to explain the power imbalance between white Scottish vs white American and white vs Middle Eastern/Indian but the moment I said privilege the snort told me everything I needed to know about my chances of success. I rolled my eyes and ignored them for the rest of the night.

Not wanting your culture twisted and ripped away from it’s actual origins (Indian dance is a form of worship!) and meaning is selfish according to some white people. “Why won’t the brown people share Mommy?” *sigh*

I am tired of fighting this fight. I’m tired of being expected to comment on behalf of ALL people of colour. And I’m tired of people expecting me to be nice about it.

If I go outside in the kind of clothing my grandmother used to wear, salwar kameez and saris, I get a shitload more abuse. White people can put “my” culture on like a costume and take it off again. People like me are stuck with it and the abuse all the time. We can’t take off our skin colour. We get accused of not assimilating but it’s perfectly ok for white people to do the things that mark us out as different!

Personally I don’t give a shit about dancing but the woman in the article, who is from that part of the world, is upset by it and who the fuck am I to invalidate her feelings.

Paranoia, phobias and panic attacks. Oh my!

Do not read if you share my phobia of eight legged monsters.

I was just jolted out of whatever calmish (for once) state I was in by a thud. If I wasn’t so fricking paranoid I could have assumed it was my boyfriend¬†turning out the light but I had to go check that we didn’t have intruders. Upstairs was fine but I didn’t make it to the bottom of the them before spotting an intruder by the front door.

Continue reading Paranoia, phobias and panic attacks. Oh my!