It’s crucial that we do not recreate structures in our groups that would silence people who are already silenced in society. Instead, we aim to cultivate an atmosphere of open expression and active participation. To this end, Cuts Cafe operates a safer spaces agreement throughout the whole building, during our meetings and at our events.
We use the term “safer space” to acknowledge that no space can be truly safe for everyone.
What a safer space is for…
Oppression can happen at a political, social or personal level and typically occurs on the basis of ethnicity, class, gender, gender identity, gender presentation, sexuality, age, income, ability, appearance, immigration, activist experience, and other forms of difference and inequality. A safer spaces agreement aims to create a space free from the experience of marginalisation and inequality that many people regularly face.
What a safer space means…
A safer space is a dream and a vision of a better society, of what it could be like to feel supported, to feel autonomous, to feel free, and most of all to feel safer. In a safer space we recognise and respect that we experience things in different ways and that we have different ideas and ideals on how to make changes in the world. If we want to create a radical community then we have to question our learned behaviours and challenge others and ourselves. We need to work towards acting in ways that are respectful, and build a community of trust and support.
Creating a safer space…
This is a space in which we agree to observe and uphold the following ideas:
– Everyone has an equal right to be heard & an equal responsibility to listen.
– Those who are perhaps used to doing the talking, may feel it benefits them to do more listening, and vice versa.
– However strongly you feel about a particular topic, do not allow a discussion to get abusive.
– Any behaviour (including body language and verbal language) that demeans, marginalises, dominates, or perpetuates hierarchies, is not tolerated.
– Identify your own privilege(s) and actively challenge them.
– Be aware of the range of different identities that people may identify as, and avoid making sweeping generalisations about people.
– Be aware that anyone in the space could be a survivor of a particular form of oppression, for example, violence & abuse.
– Anyone who is responsible for any kind of violence, intimidation, or harassment will by their behaviour exclude themselves from the space (meeting/event etc.)
– If someone is feeling uncomfortable, do not hesitate to say so.
Challenging unsafe behaviour
By being in this space you are not only agreeing to the safer spaces agreement, you are also agreeing to work together to confront and challenge all behaviour which is inappropriate. It can be difficult to pull people up on their negative actions, but it is essential that we come together to do this, and do it in the best possible way that we can.