Safe Spaces are for everyone.
Even if your ideas aren’t quite on the same wavelength.
Last night, I was at an event which was dedicated to people telling stories about their sexual experiences, themed around being a fool, loosely.
It felt like a very positive, open and accepting space in which people could share snippets of their lives, their fuckups, their hilarious anecdotes and everything inbetween.
One guy stood out, though.
He talked about two women that he had attempted to date simultaneously in college, years ago, in the most ham-handed attempt at non-monogamy I’ve yet to encounter. Ethics didn’t really come into it — it was mostly just a college guy’s attempts to bed both women.
He focused mostly on their physical attributes — one was The Tall One and the other The Short One. They were both French and therefore exotic.
Predictably, his story finished with both women telling him to fuck off.
The language he used was heavy on the objectification and the story was very much centered on what he wanted out of the relationship(s) with no consideration of or reflection on what the women he was trying to deceive might have been feeling or wanting.
Throughout his 5-minute tale, members of the panel as well as many people in the audience cringed or outright scowled at his descriptions, use of language and subjective lack of self-awareness. Here and there, I heard the hiss of indrawn breath — shock, outrage, surprise, incredulity.
The audience was very mixed — kinky, vanilla, queer, poly, straight, gay, monogamous, cisgender — and consequently the range of opinions and reactions was very broad.
The overall impression, though, was largely negative. You could almost hear the questions: “How can he say that about a couple of women?”, “How could he be so blasé about this?”.
While I agreed with the overall sentiment, a thought struck me:
These spaces exist for the benefit of creating common ground between people. They’re there both for those who are “awake” to the nuances and shades of meaning that envelop human sexuality and gender to share their stories and affirm one another and for those who are trying to find their feet in this new world.
If someone’s opinion or modes of speech or thinking don’t mesh with your views, it doesn’t make them invalid. We are all here to learn.
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