STUCCO is a safer space. It is crucial that anyone interested in visiting, living at or interacting with STUCCO understands this and agrees with our safer spaces policy. Please take the time to read the content below and watch our safer spaces video.
WHAT IS A SAFER SPACE?
A safer space begins from the realisation that mainstream society contains and operates structures of power and oppression that render some persons more likely to experience abuse, harassment, and trauma. Our safer space attempts to create a supportive, non-threatening environment that relies on open-mindedness, respect, and a willingness to learn from others.
It is a space free of discrimination and one that tries to preserve physical, emotional and mental safety.
It is a self-aware and self-critical space that recognises the various power structures that affect our day-to-day lives. In so doing, we strive to respect and understand the experiences and needs of others as well as how our behaviour affects them. It is not merely about making people feel “comfortable” but about resisting the unequal field of power and experience in society.
We enter this space with a commitment to mutual respect, mutual aid, anti-oppression, advocacy, conflict resolution, non-violence and community building. Everyone who enters a safer space has a responsibility to uphold the values of the space.
A safer space doesn’t just exist for and benefit of people as individuals alone, it also exists for and benefits the space and the community as a whole. It is about building a community and that it is one for all and all for one. It is about creating a space where people who we don’t even know yet would feel comfortable entering.
Safer spaces are fundamentally about members of communities actively engaging with each other in a mutual process of respect, learning, and empathy. They focus on people engaging in a continual discourse, whether that in the hall, between shower cubicles, or at meetings.
A safer spaces agreement really is, at its core, a method for specific communities to work out how to resist discrimination and harassment, both personal and systemic. Basically, we start from a place where we respect our housemates and members of our community, where we treat their experiences as valid and with empathy, and where we focus on unravelling the deeper root causes of any specific problem.
There is no such thing as a completely ‘safe space’. We say ‘safer’ realising 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 who may enter the space at any time and there may be complications or lapses in fulfilling those guidelines in practice.
We say safer space to emphasise that it is always something we are striving towards, and that there is always room to learn and develop our understanding and behaviour.
Safer Spaces in Practice
What does it mean to give consent? Why is it important? We believe that everyone has the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without coercion. Stucco stands against the abuse of people’s consent.
Consent is not just about sexual consent but also about consent relating to substances, general personal space, and privacy. Our view is that good consent is active consent: a ‘yes’ that is explicit and uninfluenced. A reluctant nod is not a yes; a drunk yes is not active consent; and feeling someone up without asking does not have active consent.
We run consent workshops every now and then to explore how members and guests of Stucco understand consent as well as how we can improve our space. Some of these workshops will be at the general level of consent; some will be at the level of specific issues such as substance use, sexual interactions, and so on. What is important is that we maintain an open dialogue around consent and avoid letting it fall into the shadows, doomed to die a quiet day.
Stucco stands firmly against discrimination of all kinds: sexism, racism, and queerphobia are unacceptable in our space. To be a safer space is to ensure that people can live out their lives without fear for discrimination.
We’ve agreed within Stucco that we should work towards minimising a litany of –ism’s and –phobia’s including sexism, racism, transphobia, queerphobia, ablism, amongst others. We also recognise that these things don’t always manifest in really explicit ways but that they can be quite subtle. We try and create a culture in which we can explain to each other why something someone is doing or saying is subtly or overtly discriminatory.
We try to run workshops around discrimination and experiences of discrimination at Stucco to understand how these things permeate our space. We also take these issues into consideration when selecting new members. It’s important to us that our space stands against the norm of mainstream society, which too often unthinkingly duplicates a history of discrimination.
WHY DO WE WANT AND NEED A SAFER SPACE AT STUCCO?
- the world at large is not always a safe space, it is full of prejudices. We have safe spaces to fight oppression
- we understand that sometimes the people we know and love and share similar anti-oppression ideologies sometimes unknowingly engage in practices that are potentially unsafe
- so boundaries are respected
- so we are self-aware and respectful
- so we are aware and responsible for our own actions in relation to others
- so people, especially those who are not beneficiaries of power structures, can feel comfortable in the space
- to promote understanding, development
The reality of mainstream society is that it is filled with power plays, manipulation, and discrimination. People catcall women and queer people on the street, people speak over others, and people ignore and belittle other’s cultures, race, or religion. These behaviours, at their core, fail to treat people with respect and can manifest in gendered violence, sexual harassment, and the delegitmisation of other people.
It’s also very important for the effective functioning of a community. If some people are always speaking over others or there is a failure of respect, then the democratic workings of a community are compromised. We cannot work on important and fun projects for our co-operatives if we’re always dealing with destructive behaviours or if those behaviours hamper people’s ability to contribute to the co-op.