Hillary Clinton Explains Why We Need Safe Spaces for Women on the Toast

July 1st 2016

Lucy Tiven

On Friday, The Toast published a heartfelt letter penned by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton about the significance of safe spaces for women.

Clinton described how The Toast, which is shutting down after July 1, provided a powerful community for female writers and readers.

"I know that today is the final day of The Toast, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what this space — and spaces like it — mean for women," Clinton wrote. "In nearly every industry, from publishing to scientific research, women have had to forge their own paths against overwhelming odds and less-than-friendly welcomes."

She also recounted how Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) created a similar forum by holding dinners where women in the Senate could come together.

When Clinton was first elected to the Senate in 2001, there were only 13 female senators, which made these dinners especially significant. (There are currently 20 women in the Senate.)

She explained:

"My friend Barbara Mikulski famously started a tradition of dinner parties for all the women of the Senate. Over a glass of wine — okay, maybe three — we’d give each other support, advice, and highly relevant tips to navigate being in such an extreme minority.

"I’ve always had great admiration for women like Barb who take it upon themselves to create spaces where women can speak their minds freely. With this site, Mallory, Nicole and Nikki did the same for so many women — and they made us laugh and think along the way."

Why safe spaces matter.

As Everyday Feminism explains, safe spaces are communities dedicated to people whose voices are otherwise marginalized or silenced.

These can be physical spaces — like bars and health clinics dedicated to LGBT people — or places that exist on the internet, like Facebook groups, Instagram communities, online forums, and digital publications that put minority voices at the forefront.

Safe spaces typically require those who contribute to them to abide by written or unwritten rules that ban or discourage certain forms of discriminatory speech — like sexism, transphobia, racism, and ableism — that can go unchecked in popular media and everyday life.

Clinton's letter brings up the many ways women have created safe spaces online in recent years.

As ATTN: has previously reported, women have recently shared stories about protecting one another in public in viral Tumblr posts, and they have used the Twitter hashtag #NoWomanEver to share everyday experiences of gender inequality.

Like these posts, The Toast allowed women to connect, discuss serious issues, and find humor in run-ins with sexism in daily life, art, and popular media.

Clinton also shared advice for young women and encouraged them to express their own voices.

"Speak your opinion more fervently in your classes if you’re a student, or at meetings in your workplace. Proudly take credit for your ideas. Have confidence in the value of your contributions. And if the space you’re in doesn’t have room for your voice, don’t be afraid to carve out a space of your own."

You can read the whole letter on The Toast.

[h/t The Toast]