Today I’m going to address the issue of what have become known as “Safe(r) Spaces” at conventions. These are, more often than not, enclaves set aside for various minority groups attending conventions so that they can have a place free from the stresses of the maddening crowd.
Most of the complaints about such things I’ve been reading of late take two general forms: “that’s exclusionary and discriminatory and they’re being hypocrites for demanding such things” or “the convention itself is/should be a safe space for everyone…we’re all about inclusion…”
Not to mention the third, sotto voce complaint that the “privileged” aren’t being “privileged” and are unhappy to be feeling the way many minorities do when out and about in mainstream culture.
Which is the real hypocrisy.
My personal feeling is that this is only an issue for some non-minority folks because these are safe(r) spaces for minorities. I don’t ever recall hearing anyone complaining that they can’t get into the green room because they aren’t presenters or guests; never heard anyone complaining that they can’t get into the SFWA suite because they aren’t members. I myself have been at convention hotels without being a member of the convention. I never complained that I couldn’t get in.
This is the way it has always been at conventions. There are open parties and closed parties. Special events for groups that are not necessarily open to all attendees; there was even a time when you had to buy an extra ticket to participate in all of the Hugo Awards ceremony events. You can’t go in to the ballroom when they’re preparing for the costume contest, unless you’re working on it or in it. You can’t attend con-com meetings unless you’re a member.
I’ve got nearly 200 people associated with Amazing Stories in one fashion or another. If they all attended the same convention, they would represent a sizable minority of all of the attendees. If I rented a suite for the “Amazing Stories Team and Guests” and asked the program people to publicize it so that everyone qualifying knew where the Amazing Suite was and when it was open – how many complaints would the convention get for offering an exclusionary space?
Few if any is my guess.
How is that different from any other group that has some external commonality getting a room for their “exclusive” use?
It isn’t, with one possible exception: most of the Amazing Stories Team wandering around a convention aren’t subject to unconscious bias or unintentional micro-aggressions. (I use unintentional and unconscious here to put as good a face on things as possible.)
And please, stop already with the BS “they’re being discriminatory” thing. If you are cis het white male, the whole rest of the convention is your “safe(r) space”. This is not a case of hypocrisy, it is an attempt to level the playing field.
I would be very happy indeed if conventions were able to achieve the fannish ideal of being open and welcoming and comfortable for all attendees, all of the time. This is the goal we are striving for. Safe(r) Spaces are a step towards that goal. If you don’t like it, get over yourself.