Sunday, August 28, 2016

Understanding Triggers

My conservative brother and my liberal self have been in agreement with the "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings" that American colleges have adapted recently. I don't think it's a pussyfication of America but I do think it's going too far.

When you need a safe space because you see a Trump 2016 poster, you really need to get a grip. And I hate to think what's going to happen when you enter the workforce and get an asshole boss. Ain't no safe spaces in the real world, Petunia.

Which doesn't mean that there aren't things that are going to trip your trigger. Such as: Carolyn bought us I Give You My Body by Diana Gabaldon, her how to write sex book. And it tripped my trigger. I had to delete it from my Kindle and I suffered a very nasty reaction to something she wrote.

(And by the way: although she's a great writer, she doesn't write sexy in a way that makes me interested. I wouldn't suggest the book because her sex scenes are not sexy.)

Diana Gabaldon didn't write the book with the knowledge that something she wrote about rape would make anyone react badly. Carolyn didn't buy and share the book thinking there was anything in it that would make me cry. The trigger was mine based on my experiences. And part of what's necessary for me to survive in this world is to recognize that I, like everyone, have triggers and I'm going to have to face them now and again.

Sometimes it might be a Trump 2016 sign. And if it is, then place your I'm With Her sign next to it and keep moving. Sometimes it's a scene in a book or movie that floods you with bile. Acknowledge it, keep moving on.

It doesn't hurt to have trigger warnings but it shouldn't always be necessary and we shouldn't always have to be careful. The world is unpleasant and we face unpleasantness within it. It's our job to learn how to exist with things that bother us. We have to learn how to emotionally get past those moments. And we need to remember that just because it affects me in a bad way, doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

Part of what makes me strong is getting past the things that make me weak.

And Carolyn and I have talked about trigger warnings on other blogs and really aren't interested in them on this blog. If something trips your trigger then we're here to discuss it with you if you like, but we wont try to coddle you in our space because of it. Lean to suck it up Buttercup, and become the functioning adult we know you can be.


  1. I am struggling with some of what you say above.

    My guiding principle on this topic was articulated best, recently, by Jackie Barbosa in this thread on twitter.

    Some topics ARE hurtful, period.

    Rape is one. Child abuse, sexual or otherwise, is another one.

    It takes nothing away from a writer (published or otherwise), to say upfront, "I'm writing about rape/sexual abuse/mental illness/suicide," and it may well save an unsuspecting reader a serious emotional crisis.

    I'm fine with people choosing not to post warnings, while I understand why so many people need them, and not only it costs me nothing to use them myself, I don't consider doing so to be "coddling" the people who read my stuff.

    However, to each her own.

  2. I agree with what Jackie said completely. But she was also talking about people who know her being careful of causing her pain. She wasn't talking about me saying how excited I am to have my teenager driving while in her hearing when I don't know her story.

    And my issue with "triggers" is that everyone does have them but the expectation that the world of strangers be sensitive to you is absurd. I could say that I'm Jewish so mentioning Hitler is a trigger point but then there kills all discussions of an important part of human history.