President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter mid November, following the remarks made by the cast of Hamilton tweeting, “The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!” Actor, Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr on Hamilton, delivered the speech stating, “There’s nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen. There’s nothing to boo here. We’re all here sharing a story of love,” before continuing on to say “We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us.” A speech rooted in “love,” as Dixon stated, aimed at addressing the American values for “all,” yet Hamilton found itself being questioned on the basis of “safe spaces.” What exactly is a safe space and who gets to define it?
Tumblr advocate page, Safe Space Network, defines a safe space as “a place where anyone can relax and be able to fully express, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, religious affiliation, age, or physical or mental ability.” A safe space in some cases need to be defined. When discussing sensitive material in classrooms, often the teacher or professor will declare the space a no judgement zone, requesting the students to keep all materials discussed within the confined space. A safe space often can go without mentioning. During group meetings and/or environments like those seen at Alcoholics Anonymous, the safe space is inherent within the structure and validity of the group. With the new age of social media and mass dissemination of information and the slight erasure of privacy, defining safe spaces online becomes difficult.
Twitter user khadijzah, as well as her secondary Twitter user name daddykhadds, was exposed as an alleged facilitator for child pornography, in exchange for a rumoured amount of $25,000. Daddykhadds is informally known as a feminist and an “inspiration,” as some described her as, to those involved in the Body Positive movement. According to screenshots and victim testimonies on Twitter, Daddykhadds gave her Twitter account, which held multiple sexually explicit photos of underage women, to various fake accounts on Twitter. Once the account was exchanged, those fake accounts were able to then access the sexually explicit photos and the Twitter handles of those who sent them. Daddykhadds, as the user refers to herself as, was subject to multiple screenshots wherein discussions were had with other users. One such discussions were held with the victims of the child pornography as one victim stated to Daddykhadds, “You trusted a stranger with your account because you wasn’t think about us.” In which daddykhadds responded, “Still didn’t think you’d be involved.” In this case, followers of Daddykhadds believed her Twitter page and aura to be safe and yet, with the ability of hackers, as we saw with the celebrity leak of women’s explicit photos, defining a safe space online, becomes gravely difficult. If not by the users of the social media account, but equally by the contributors/followers. When State Farm recently tweeted their new holiday advertisement, featuring the engagement of an interracial couple, it was met with a slew of racist responses. One Twitter user, krahekr, tweeted: “Disgusting. This is White Genocide.” Some ways to bypass the dismissal of safe spaces online often can be to simply make certain spaces private, like a private group on Facebook, or keeping your tweets private. Beyoncé privately released the music video for her lead single, Formation, on her personal Youtube channel months before its recent release on her Vevo channel. Safe spaces vary depending on the context, environment, and/or the topics being discussed, but the most important aspect of a safe space is the inclusionary allowance of multiple and diverse voices.
President-elect Donald Trump built his campaign on hateful and divisive speech, triggering an increase in hateful rhetoric and actions seen and experienced post election. The defining of a safe space simply does not, and can not, lie within the hands of those who think, speak, and act alike Trump. Being non-inclusive diminishes the goal of a safe space. When you build a home, the foundation is the most important. Trump’s foundation remains shaky and unbalanced. Those who define safe spaces lie within those with knowledge of, experiencing, or who have experienced, the topics, issues, and/or events that will be discussed within the spaces. Those fostering safe spaces, should continuously seek ways to be more inclusive, welcoming, and non domineering. A safe space is a vulnerable and particular area of emotion, discussion, and often, resolution. It should be handled as such moving forward under the era of Trump.
Originally published at medium.com