A Case for Exclusion
Don’t worry – it’s not what you are thinking…
I am pro-inclusion in multiple community spaces. That means that I believe that there are spaces where it is appropriate for multiple groups to coexist, even if their experiences are not the exact same. An example of this are LGBT+ spaces, where resources are shared and education is inclusive.
That being said, @phillipsheabutter brought up a point that I would like to expand on here. Being excluded from a closed space is not the same thing as being excluded from a wider community where multiple communities have been accepted and included to the benefit of the whole.
What does a closed space look like? Well, all spaces are closed to a degree. However, by this I am referring to spaces that are highly specific to a given experience. Inclusion is usually based around a single shared experience, even if the individuals who share that experience are quite different.
It is not right to, for example, insist that spaces designed for lesbians must become inclusive to people who are not lesbians. Lesbians are part of larger multiple community spaces, but at the same time they may require spaces that center around the lesbian experience. That is fair.
What I think is important for – especially inclusionists – to remember is that exclusive spaces are not inherently bad. Exclusion in the sense of distancing people from their ability to access resources they may need, and to the point of preventing them from building a thriving community of their own is harmful.
However, there is no harm in having spaces that are exclusive to certain groups of people. There is no harm in having blogs that are specific to transgender people. There is no harm in having spaces be exclusive to lesbians, or spaces specific to people who experience attraction to multiple genders.
The same goes for the interior of asexual and aromantic communities. Spaces designed exclusively for aromantic asexuals are needed. Exclusive spaces for neurodivergent asexuals and aromantics are needed. Exclusive spaces for asexuals and aromantics of color are needed.
In designing effective exclusive spaces, we enable people to center their focus around a specific experience. As much as this can seem contrary to intersectionality, it may improve intersectionality as people have the space to determine how their intersecting identities relate to a common experience.
I imagine an effective exclusive or closed space as being one where the experiences of those outside the group are not called into question, where “others” are not undermined, and where malice is not cultivated for groups existing outside of a shared experience.
I imagine an effective exclusive or closed space as being one where the emphasis on a shared experience can lead to a better understanding of the needs of that specific group, where solidarity and acceptance can be built, and where the understandings achieved can be brought to inclusive spaces.
Inclusive spaces are critically important to me, as I view them as the greatest opportunity for education, the provision of resources, and change. It is where we can work together toward a common goal, such as to dismantle systems that harm us all, while examining the way systems favor some of us over others.
In working towards building effective spaces where multiple communities coexist, we need to understand that exclusive spaces are not patently bad. We need them. What cannot be tolerated is total exclusion, and the destruction of our spaces to close people off completely from community.