The Stigma Behind Womens' Safe Spaces

Entering my sophomore year here at Wells College, I made the decision to be more active on campus. I was determined to make better use of my time and contribute positively to the Wells Community. In September, I joined the Women’s Resource Center (WRC). I was excited to join such a wonderful club that is backed by a beautiful purpose - to provide a safe space for women (and others). The WRC is a quiet space that allows for women of any race, ethnicity, background and the like to come and block out the stressors that weigh down the body and mind. It has been like this for generations, carrying on a legacy that connects the spirit of Wells women through each year.

During a discussion with one of my peers the other day, the concept that women needing a safe space was a weakness came up in passing. Hearing this, I was immediately shocked! I didn’t understand how such an empowering resource could be viewed as a weakening force to a woman’s character. The argument was that women needing a safe space is comparable to the term “snowflake”, which is a result of “spineless people being unable to face their issues like regular people do”.  I found this to be completely absurd and offensive. This argument paints the idea that it is not acceptable for women to have fragility in their character, and that we as women must persevere through anything that comes our way- NOT because we are women, but because it is the “normal” thing to do.

I want to change this stigma behind safe spaces and what they mean in society today. Given the international tensions and unequal gender experiences happening currently in the modern world, it is hard for women to escape criticisms of all kinds. With the obstacles that come from gender conflict, emotional and mental is a large and very present issue that follows women. This is especially common among minority women who face both racial and gender friction. I think there are misconceptions about what a Safe Space entails. Opposers might think that it is a place for women to hide from the world, and essentially avoid accountability and search for “sympathetic back-pats” to feel validated. This is not at all what a safe space is.

A Safe Space for women is a place for females to come together to discuss what it means to be a woman. At Wells, the WRC is one of these places for all genders, faculty, and staff. This means, having outlets to discuss mental, emotional, as well as personal health- and seek willing and caring help from peers and other members. It is a resource for feminine hygiene products and holds information for off-campus women’s resources like Planned Parenthood and other medical centers. It is a place for planning, where women can come together to plan campus-wide events that empower women and impress self-love onto others. It is a library that holds works from female writers sharing their ideas about femininity to the world, and how to prevail in a male-dominated world. It is a resource that rebuilds the woman after she has been torn down and pulled apart. Safe spaces are sacred places.

I am so grateful to be a part of such a beautiful group on campus, and I think that it is important for these types of resources to become more apparent in society. Communities should work to have spaces that are meant for the empowerment of women, and they should be widely recognized and respected for their purpose. I love the WRC here at Wells, and I hope to continue to contribute to its mission to better others and provide an inclusive, diverse and welcoming outlet for those who need it.