Baldwin Responds to Comic
Dorm Residents Sound Off on Charges of Exclusion
To the Editor:
First of all, I don’t think you could compare this [Baldwin] to the segregation in the South because racism is a very different thing. Our program house is about the celebrating and bringing together of women of all different backgrounds. In the three years I’ve lived in Baldwin, I have learned so much about people, and how many different things people can go through. There were dialogues about women’s studies, and in no way is this dorm against men.
Secondly, if you wanted to compare the Women’s Collective to anything, I would think you’d compare it to a men’s club or a golf club that only accepts men as members. I feel, however, that Baldwin is still different from that in that there is a comfort and safe feeling that women can have in the company of other women. There is an incredible bond that women have because we are strong and have had to fight the male power structures.
This does not translate to “men are evil.” But I think everyone knows that women find it harder in the work-place, in positions of authority. Statistically, there is more violence against women. Having a place where women can live together in a safe space, a safe space for four years of their lives mind you, doesn’t seem to be a big crime to me. It is a community that welcomes women who are white, black, queer, straight, Asian, Latina, disabled and women of different socioeconomic backgrounds. We all have different stories and experiences that we feel comfortable sharing in the company of other women.
I think the cartoon somewhat cheapens the purpose of Baldwin. It’s a beautiful one, and it’s certainly made me come back to live there for three years.
Every safe space is unique, but try to put yourself in a woman’s position, and think of why this safe space might be an optional, temporary home for her. I’m sure many people feel marginalized in some way, so try to apply those feelings to the reason this Women’s Collective is important.
For me, Baldwin provides support and education. It is a shift from a male-centered perspective to a female-centered perspective. When men are around, my behavior changes; I pay more attention to men, am more likely to coddle and am less likely to disagree openly. Baldwin is a corrective to my internalized sexism; it connects me with women and helps me rely on myself rather than men. Thus, my interactions with people outside Baldwin are improved.
–Katherine E. Roberts
Gender privilege and race privilege (along with gender oppression and race oppression) are not comparable in every aspect regardless of whether people may use one to help their understanding of the other.
In my opinion, [sophomore Patrick] Schwemmer’s cartoon was ill-thought-out. In attempting to compare the segregated South with the Women’s Collective safe spaces, he failed to provide mention of power, force and community. Segregation forcibly kept black people out of public spaces to maintain white privilege and to visibly demonstrate white supremacy. Safe spaces are created to allow a haven for people who are disadvantaged in our society, such as people of color and women. They do not try to demonstrate these groups’ inherent superiority or maintain privilege.
Frankly, Schwemmer’s cartoon offended me. To compare the safe space that is Baldwin with the segregated South and then ask if that is even a valid comparison demonstrates a level of ignorance that I find profoundly disturbing. Actually, perhaps it is I who am missing something: I am unable to make a rational comparison between white supremacy and dehumanization and Baldwin’s function as safe space.
If Schwemmer was attempting to play devil’s advocate, then he needs to educate himself and think hard about the limitations of such action.
This cartoon was simply the most recent in a string of attacks on safe space on this campus. The animosity toward and misunderstanding of safe spaces needs to be addressed. Playing a highly offensive and ignorant form of devil’s advocate in hopes of creating “constructive dialogue” is not the way to accomplish this.
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