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I have come across many conversations among straight women and lesbian women regarding "safe space." This can also be argued between white women and women of color, or any privileged group vs. historically under-represented group.

In the interest of being brief, I will over simplify the situation with this example:   privileged groups hear about a "queer only" group or "women of color only" group forming and want to be a part of this group. The women from the disadvantaged group are offended that the privileged group wants to "invade" their space and deny them entry. A fight ensues, and no groups form; the original agency, bookstore, consciousness-raising group disbands.

What do you think of this phenomenon and what do you think women should do about it?





Dear Lori -

I totally hear what you are saying -- been there!

Others have tried to rectify the situation by encouraging the "powerful group" -- i.e. straight or white or middle class -- to organize their own group, but addressing the issues of the "oppressed" group. That never sat right with me especially as long as the focus is ultimately inclusion -- segregation rarely creates that result. I think that an ideal situation is for the group to forum and initially only be for that group -- but once a month or something like that open the meeting up -- but have a limit and then after a year or so see if the mission of the group has been filled and if it's safe even if "others" are there.

I once attended a meeting sponsored by the Latina Institute for Reproductive Rights -- that agenda was a piece of Supreme Court legislation and I had to leave half way through. As the only non-Latina there, the organizer said to me later -- "glad you came, but glad you left."

I think that's the type of space that should be created -- inclusive, but with a limit.

I hope that helps,

-- Amy

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