Oxford’s equality militants must reconnect with reality

17th May 2012 By Shozab Raza

by an LGBTQ student

Bigoted: “having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others”.

A perfect word to describe the militant hacks of Oxford’s Feminist and LGBTQ Societies and the ‘safe space’ they dictate.

‘Safe spaces’ are small bubbles where everybody gets to be a victim, endlessly moaning about the evils of the outside world. Each has their own vocabulary, spouting words like ‘patriachy’, ‘genderqueer’, ‘ex-gay’ and every -ism and -phobia under the sun. Other words are either deleted or appropriated, like ‘queer’ and ‘slut’, and the new language is policed to a 1984 Orwellian level.

The closed cliquey dynamic equips those involved with an artificial sense of security and a bizarre expectation for this language to propagate outside the group. Suddenly anyone with differing opinions is the enemy and a threat to the precious safe space. These people are the real bigots.

After two flame wars made front page news, it’s time to abandon this dynamic and instead celebrate our identities. There is a distinct difference between the extremist positions of groups such as fundamentalist Christians and the British National Party and a refusal to associate with a liberation movement.

As one of the University’s largest and most important societies, LGBTQ, has crumbled down to only the core that depend on it and it’s time to ask why students have turned away.

The answer I’ve been hearing left, right and centre: the small but vocal bigots who want a ‘safe space’ for everyone and end up with a space for no-one. Everyone is entitled to hold private beliefs, but not to enforce these on others, whether through a ‘safe space’ or otherwise.

My concern is also the damaging effect of these ‘safe spaces’. It’s easy to get sucked into the ideology (whatever it may be) and centre your social life around it.

There’s a real world out there, and in three years’ time that bubble of security is going to burst. If university societies have any welfare duty to their members, then preparing them for their future is paramount.

The University has a clear harassment code in place, and with good reason, but the ‘safe space’ bigots seek to overwrite this with their own code of conduct and procedures, which are ultimately poorly executed.

Why must we gather to discuss negative aspects of our identities when there are so many positive aspects to celebrate?To focus on petty differences in language and pronouns is to not see the wood for the trees.

Most of my gay, transgender or feminist friends don’t consider it a major part of their identity. It’s great to be proud of who you are, but if ‘safe spaces’ have left you bemused, I assure you you’re not alone. More spaces, no more ‘safe spaces’.

Cartoon/Jakob Rowlinson