University feminism shouldn’t just be for extremists

Is a ‘safe space’ really necessary?


I believe in equal rights for men and women, which makes me a feminist.

But what I don’t believe in is the rising “victim feminism” attitude, because the implication that women today all need protection is actually just insulting to females everywhere.

Don’t burn this it’s from Boux Avenue

I went to the Women’s Forum, which had less than 15 women attending out of the whole female population of the university. The forum did discuss some great ideas, like surveying which areas women feel unsafe in and why, and organising a committee for the Reclaim the Night march.

All the women there were lovely people and genuinely interested in helping women.

But the attitude of victimisation and self-righteousness in the meeting was way too much for me to swallow. For example, there was a heated rant against the “consent is sexy” campaign, because consent is mandatory, not sexy.

Well, obviously that’s true. But for an advert it’s just not as catchy, is it?

Calling consent sexy isn’t demeaning to women, it’s just a way of re-branding an issue to make people actually talk about it. Such an uptight reaction to it just encourages the view that feminism is only for extremist bra-burners.

It’s time feminism included some common sense and a sense of humour instead of such an uptight attitude. The constant reference to “safe space” and the sanctimonious attitude about it also isolates “normal” women from feminism.

Safe space is literally censorship; whatever its principles, it is a way of preventing people from holding a differing opinion to the mainstream. It means there is no room to debate anything, because odds are your opponent won’t be allowed to speak. Let’s say a Catholic person genuinely opposes gay marriage; can you ban them for a ‘homophobic’ attitude, just because you don’t believe what they believe? I’m not advocating any kind of hate here, but if they can’t even discuss or debate their beliefs because of “safe space,” that is straightforward censorship of a genuine, serious belief.

Are they safe here?

Freedom of speech should be taken more seriously than the fear of hurting people’s feelings.

The principle of protecting “vulnerable” groups is good, but in practice, hiding away from any controversial (or even just differing) opinions isn’t helpful in the long term – in other words, shutting me down because my opinion is different to yours isn’t okay.

The SU shouldn’t be able to decide what will and won’t hurt our feelings without even asking us. The idea that women need a “safe space” to protect them, and are considered “vulnerable” solely because of gender, is far more offensive than any verbal insult could be.

And anyway, I’d much rather learn to debate and defend my equal rights than be kept in a “safe space” for three years, thanks.