Quickies: Taxing Drug Dealers, Trigger Warnings, and SciFi/Fantasy Book Lists
On March 10, 1977, astronomers discovered rings around Uranus. (Hush, you.)
- How To Pay Your Taxes As A Drug Kingpin – Interesting, I hadn’t given this much thought before. From Dan.
- The Real Polygamous, Feminist Wives of Salt Lake City – I might need to add this tv show to my roster.
- Feminists Talk Trigger Warnings: A Round-Up – Do you have anything to add to this conversation?
- This is the way the world ends: How the cosmos will meet its demise – Also, have you read Phil Plait’s Death from the Skies?
- The Science Fiction and Fantasy Books You Can’t Afford to Miss in March – I’ve definitely booked this list for later, when I need more books in my queue.
- Sputnik’s spawn: How the Cold War created astrobiology – Well, every cloud, I guess.
I’m inclined to agree with that trigger warning article.
I would quote in particular Roxane Gay: “This is the truth of my trouble with trigger warnings: there is nothing words on the screen can do that has not already been done. A visceral reaction to a trigger is nothing compared to the actual experience that created the trigger. I don’t know how to see beyond this belief to truly get why trigger warnings are necessary. When I see trigger warnings, I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel protected. Instead, I am surprised there are still people who believe in safety and protection despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”
Also the author of the article, Jessica Valenti:
“But as someone who has had PTSD, I know that a triggering event can be so individual, so specific, that there is no anticipating it.”
If we treat people as fragile, they will be fragile.
Most people routinely put spoiler warnings before describing content of any fictional work that is being discussed in a blog post or review, even often in casual face to face conversation. People who disobey this rule get piled on with very little if anyone defending them.
I don’t see why putting a simple trigger warning before discussion of commonly triggering content is any different. It’s not any harder, and it’s arguably for a better reason (avoiding injuring people who are already struggling vs ruining someone’s fun). Trigger warnings aren’t to stop the following material from being triggering. They are to give the reader or listener a chance to *stop* before they are triggered – just like a spoiler alert gives the reader a chance to stop reading before being spoiled. They don’t stop the bad stuff that exists from being bad, but they give the injured agency to stop themselves from being needlessly and carelessly reinjured.
College professors sometimes like to assign literature that is potentially very triggering, shocking, difficult to process. I don’t see any reason why those who find this necessary or beneficial (and it can be) should not have to think through what types of things they need to put trigger warnings for, or why students and other participants should not have an up front warning about what they are getting into. For example, I had a professor who was teaching (about a decade ago) a section in a night class give an assignment for us to do a search on and small writing assignment about websites that came up under a search term “pro-ana”. I had no idea what the term meant, and was quite thoroughly shocked when I completed the assignment. I count it as beneficial to have spent some time reading and thinking about the subject, but it could easily have been very triggering – even harmful – for some people in different places in their lives. As the class was a technology class about how to use the internet, there was no reason a student would expect to have to worry about encountering that kind of material in that class, and a trigger warning would easily have been in order.
Until I sat here trying to type this comment, I had not actually considered how other people in that class might have reacted to that assignment, whether it might have been extraordinarily difficult or harmful for others. I’ve had situations, words and actions that would trigger me, but this wasn’t one of them. Quite possibly, the professor never considered it in that light either (I don’t know, really, what the point of the assignment was, other than the surface level of using a search engine. I don’t know what the professor wanted to say or accomplish, as he didn’t really comment). That’s what I think thinking about trigger warnings does for you – it forces you to start making a mental break before posting something, and thinking about who the audience is and how they differ from you and in what ways you might need to adequately inform them before forcing exposure to something. In my own writing it’s been a brilliant way to check my privilege before posting – because I have had my triggers but they may be different than the ones others in my audience might have.
Obviously we can’t anticipate everything. But some things are objectively terrible and there’s nothing wrong with putting warnings ahead of such content. Even those of us who aren’t triggered by the content might appreciate a warning about what we are about to read, see or listen to.
They now accent the antepenult in Uranus, because apparently number 1 is less disgusting than number 2. Of course, if they got rid of the /j/, we’d be fine.
Interesting about polygamy and feminism. There are objections to polygamy, but it tends to be things that tend to go with polygamy (a grown man marrying a child, arranged marriages, etc.) that get to me rather than the arrangement itself. (I mean, traditional Lakota polygamy was nothing like what we see from a Warren Jeffs; it was just a pragmatic answer to high male mortality rates.)
The bigger problem I have with trigger warnings is, while I know anything can be triggering, even Beethoven. (That link’s A Clockwork Orange, before anyone asks.) But the problem being the use of it to just mean ‘things that make me angry’ on blogs.
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