As a writer, I reject the idea that any restrictions should be placed on my words. People may not like my use of the word “cunt” because it makes them uncomfortable, but I use it precisely because it does so. I want to challenge the status quo of Romance writing just as I want to challenge people’s narrow ideas about love and relationship, which I believe are limiting us as a society.
Should you be able to yell that word at a passerby on a college campus? Should you be able to yell racial slurs minorities on a college campus? Should you be able to chalk offensive words on the sidewalk in front of meeting centers for various cultural groups on campus? Would you just be “challenging the status quo” with those acts, or would you be doing something else? I think we can agree those aren’t the same as writing it in an essay or a piece of literature, and are clearly forms of harassment, but more on that later.
In fact, your argument and the University of Chicago’s demonization of safe spaces are straw man attacks, aimed at a mischaracterization of what safe spaces are and what people expect out of safe spaces. These representations have little to do with reality. The pendulum has not yet begun to swing, much less swing to the point of overcorrection.
The reality is the demand for safe spaces IS a challenge to people’s narrow ideas of what is or is not appropriate at college, narrow ideas forged in the crucible of hundreds of years of white male supremacy in higher education, narrow ideas that used to hold the types of harassment I previously mentioned, such as yelling racial slurs at passersby on campus, as being perfectly acceptable acts.
People defending the status quo and decrying safe spaces are the ones who are butt-hurt and trying to stifle conversation in the interest of preserving things as they are. Someone had to challenge the status quo to make it not OK to yell racial slurs at minorities on campus, because it is not OK. Someone has to keep challenging the status quo, because that is how you defeat the bullies who hide behind the status quo as being something inherently acceptable; you disempower them by casting their narrow ideas as the normative of yesterday, not the normative of tomorrow.