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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Trigger Warning

Here is a comment I put on someone's facebook feed about a trigger warning. I had objected in an earlier comment to a tone of earnest condescension:

Look, I would use language like this in a warning, if I needed one. "Look, this course is about racism, so we're going to be looking at racist material that's going to make all of us squirm." Or, "This course is about sex and violence, in part, so we are going to see vivid descriptions of sexualized violence. You're going to need to take responsiblity for your own emotional reactions in dealing with this material. You can talk to me about this if you want, or simply find your own solution." What triggered my reaction was the necessity for a mealy-mouthed apologetic earnestness. The tone has to be right, and has to have an educational message of its own. For example, what tone would you use to warn a colleague about something that might be upsetting? How would you address that person as an equal, even accounting for the fact that not everyone is a hipster?

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