Some time ago I heard the concept of “safe space” for the first time. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a place (as on a college campus) intended to be free of bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening actions, ideas, or conversations.”
Urban Dictionary has a less subtle definition: “A place where cowards with cultural authoritarian and pro-censorship leanings go to in order to evade criticism and calling out of whatever absurd ideas they may express, as well as ideas that are even slightly opposed to the safe space dweller’s ideas. These are labelled as whatever kind of bigotry would make the safe space dweller look like a victim the most.”
Sometimes I would like to live in a safe space and protect my delicate skin from the words, attitudes and criticisms that I don’t like and that I consider offensive. However, I completely disagree with the existence of those spaces. Spaces where debate is suppressed, and where we make sure to live in our happy bubble, without exposing ourselves to anything that bothers us. Because that way, culture stagnates and society doesn’t advance.
Through nature we have evolved, slowly. Our ancestors appeared six million years ago, but the modern human form only evolved about 200,000 years ago. Today nature is forcing us to progress, but we don’t have nearly as much time, not by a long shot.
Transforming our planet took very little time, after the industrial revolution, and to fix that mess we have years, not decades. The 740 pages of a recent UN report conclude that “it is necessary to adopt urgent measures on an unprecedented scale to stop and reverse this situation and thus protect human and environmental health”. The time has come for us to evolve again, and to transform the way we relate to nature and the way we build our societies. Never better said, evolution begets revolution. Because what is urgent now is revolution to disrupt business as usual.
Today is another March 8th. In 2019, is this a better world for women? I want to believe that, and I see great signs … But I have to confess that I am very tired. The news worries me and haunts me. Today, in International Women’s Day, they found a woman murdered in her apartment. We are not safe even within the confines of our own four walls. A delegation of evangelical pastors, the same ones who advise the nefarious Mike Pence, came to meet with Costa Rican congresspeople, and if this country becomes even more conservative, well… God save us. We still haven’t signed the technical normative for therapeutic abortion in Costa Rica, which means that women continue to lack full ownership of our bodies, even if our life is at risk. We continue to blame the victims, those who denounce the multiple abuses and cover-ups of the Catholic Church in Costa Rica and the world, and those who denounce abuses and violations by men, such as Oscar Arias.
At the beginning of this year, I boarded Research Vessel Falkor for my 19th expedition with Schmidt Ocean Institute. To be fair, once you lose sight of land, the oceans seem relatively the same: water. Yet for me, the expedition back in January was different. This time, I was sailing in Costa Rican waters, which suddenly made the blue ripples around the ship become even more special. I was taking a close look at the Costa Rican maritime area, working in completely unexplored areas and being amongst the first people ever to discover new species and ecosystems, in my own country!
A few months ago I started working on a new project that I am truly excited about. A new British podcast that has sparked conversations about extremely interesting and relevant subjects. Yet very soon something started bugging me: for such an advanced and ethnically diverse island, the overwhelming majority of the guests were white men.
The podcast’s producer did make an effort to find female participants, yet, as a testament to society’s imbalance, it proved too difficult for him. Most podcasts featured three guests, and through the first season’s nine sessions, twenty-six guests sat in front of our microphones. Of all of them, only four were female. What’s more, three of them were all featured in one single podcast: gender equality. The fourth and final female guest was also invited to cover a “softer” subject: mental health.