Safer Spaces

A safer space is a supportive, non-threatening environment that encourages open-mindedness, respect, a willingness to learn from others, as well as physical and mental safety. It is a space that is critical of the power structures that affect our everyday lives, and where power dynamics, backgrounds, and the effects of our behavior on others are prioritized. It’s a space that strives to respect and understand survivors’ specific needs. Everyone who enters a safer space has a responsibility to uphold the values of the space.

We say ‘safer’ realizing that not everyone experiences spaces in the same way as others, so any one set of guidelines established to create safety may not meet the requirements of everyone and there may be complications or lapses in fulfilling those guidelines in practice.

Everyone entering the Sissy Collective is asked to be aware of their language and behavior, and to think about whether it might be harmful to others. This is no space for violence, for touching people without their consent, for being intolerant of someone’s religious beliefs or lack thereof, for being creepy, sleazy, racist, ageist, sexist, hetero-sexist, trans-phobic, able-bodiest, classist, sizeist, or for using any other behavior or language that may perpetuate oppression.

We desire to live our lives in way that proactively seeks to subvert oppression, to undermine the very possibility that someone will feel discriminated against. We need to recognize that oppression, discrimination, assault, and abuse are perpetrated by people who we know and love and share similar anti-oppression ideologies with. We acknowledge that as long as oppressive systems exist on the larger level, their traces may find their way into our collective, events, and our actions. We have a responsibility to take care of each other, while holding each other accountable.

By entering the Sissy Collective, and/or participating in our activities and events, you agree to abide by these guidelines:

  • Respect people’s physical and emotional boundaries.
  • Respect people’s opinions, beliefs, differing states of being and differing points of view.
  • Be responsible for your own actions. Be aware that your actions do have an affect on others.
  • Examine your own subtle and not-so-subtle prejudices.
  • Any individual or group engaging in violence (including sexual violence and harassment) or who threatens another’s safety within the space will automatically be excluding themselves. We will ask them to leave the space.
  • If you experience or witness any behavior that crosses your boundaries or makes you feel uncomfortable, or if you are feeling like you would like to talk to someone anonymously about anything, please ask our safer spaces representative. Take responsibility for your own safety and get help if you need it.
  • Respect the pronouns and names of everyone.  Do not assume anyone’s gender identity, sexual preference, survivor status, economic status, background, health, etc.
  • Challenge yourself to be honest and open and take risks to address racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia head on.
  • Challenge the behavior not the person. Be sensitive and promote open dialogue.
  • Don’t generalize feelings, thoughts, behaviors, etc to a whole group.
  • Recognize the when someone offers criticism around oppressive behavior, to treat it as a gift that it is rather than challenging the person or invalidating their experience. Give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t make assumptions.

Meeting Practices

  • It is the role of the facilitator to ensure that the space safe and welcoming for everyone and the responsibility of each groups member to contribute to this.
  • Become a good listener
  • Don’t interrupt people who are speaking
  • Be ready to examine your words and actions to avoid any racist, sexist, homophobic, ageist or otherwise bigoted behavior, and please help the rest of the group grow by letting us know if we’re not checking ourselves.
  • Try not to call people out because they are not speaking
  • Be conscious of how much space you take up or how much you speak in a group Practice “stepping up, stepping back” so we can each contribute to equal participation.
  • Be careful of not hogging the show, speaking on every subject, speaking in capital letters, restating what others say or speaking for others
  • Respect different views and opinions
  • Balance race, gender and age participation
  • People who haven’t yet spoken get priority
  • The collective will take time to address conflict.
  • We will hold ourselves accountable for our impact, as well as intent

We welcome the continuing discussion about and improvement of this policy.

Some language and ideas borrowed from RANT Collective, Safer Spaces NYC, and New Direction Fest