Trigger Warning: I’m sorry if this article is a little cynical but I’ve avoided commenting on this subject all week because of my thoughts on the subject – and then Marie makes it the WickedWednesday prompt!
I am lucky enough to not need any trigger warnings; I don’t have any horrendous experiences in my life that I need to avoid.
I know the Guardian article caused a furore online, and I must confess that I thoroughly dislike the Guardian just as much as I abhor censorship. The newspaper is the hypocritical* and dangerous left-wing equivalent of the nonsensical and dangerous Daily Mail, and much like almost all newspapers they like to provoke to cause a reaction.
Personally, I like my politics central and my news unbiased and neutral. Guardian is neither; I have no time for it, and avoided commenting on the article as I don’t want to help them into their revenue-boosting marketing strategy.
Jen Doll claims that Trigger Warnings are censorship: what a moronic comment. They are not censorship: they are not advocating the removal of artforms, making Trigger Warnings compulsory or restricting access to material, but are just providing a warning that there are subjects in the material that may evoke strong, negative reactions in some, such as exacerbating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
So, I like them. I have been reading Internet erotica for over 15 years, and there are codes that signify “heavy” material – “caut” for caution, “rp” for rape, “nc” for non-consensual and “viol” for violence, for example. That’s normal to advise what’s in your work.
And I use them when I have to; why wouldn’t you? As an author I don’t want to be responsible for triggering the memory of a survivor who has suffered a horrific ordeal, and I don’t understand the opposition to them. It is not a nanny state, it is not censorship but allowing informed choices, like we get on the backs of DVDs (“contains mild peril”) or news items (“contains flash photography”).
Yes, I get that some people be “triggered” from innocuous, everyday items: babbling brooks, denim trousers, etc – anything that reminds them of their torment, but I don’t buy that as a reason to not put trigger warnings on material containing sensitive subjects. If it helps just one person it’s been worth it.
There is censorship being foisted upon people: a quick look at Melonfarmers or Sex and Censorship highlights that. There’s the “filtering” systems Cameron has blackmailed ISPs to provide, the sex shops across the UK forced into closure and Co-Op pandering to No More Page 3 campaign. Those are examples of censorship, not content creators trying hard to warn victims that their material requires some caution.
So, I think the article of misinformation is a hysterical fuss of something over nothing; a non-issue, a mountain out of a molehill. The Samaritans like them, mental health charities like them: it’s simply being considerate towards fellow humans who may be more vulnerable than you.
But then, without the made-up bit about it being “censorship” and the sensationalist headline about “book-burning,” you’ll have an article that says “vulnerable students request warnings of sensitive material.” And that doesn’t make any money now, does it?
*= The Guardian rightly lambastes corporations like Barclays for tax avoidance, yet their parent company is registered in the Cayman Islands for tax avoidance purposes and GMG is aggressive with it’s exploitation of tax loopholes.