Apr 232012
 

For your amusement (and for your information), I present the eighteenth installment in Dumb Domme’s BDSM Lexicon, “trigger warning.”

View all past entries here.


trigger warning, n., /ˈtrɪgə(r)ˈwɔːnɪŋ/ (IPA)   [trig-er wawr-ning] (spelled) 

Definition:

trigger warning: text that alerts readers that subsequent content might “trigger” strong or otherwise negative responses such as flashbacks, thoughts of self-harm, or extreme emotional distress.

Example:

TRIGGER WARNING: This lexicon entry contains information that might be considered offensive, tactless, and/or sarcastic. Content below may be triggering to those who are triggered by offensive, tactless, or sarcastic material, and to those who are triggered by triggers.

 

fluffy

R.I.P. Fluffy

Usage:

“I’ve been really emotional since accidentally backing over Fluffy with the car. I wish those Geico commercials aired with a trigger warning… every time I see that gecko, I burst into tears.”

“I can’t believe that Anastasia didn’t put a trigger warning on her last blog post! She posted her chocolate chip cookie recipe and she knows I’m gluten-free!”

Explanation:

So, I’m a little late to the party on the whole trigger warning debate. Maybe you are too. Here’s the recap. It seems trigger warnings came into use first on feminist blogs and websites to warn readers of potentially upsetting content. According to Feminist Geek Wiki, “content which is widely agreed by feminist blogs and fandom writers to be warned for” includes “graphic descriptions of or extensive discussion” of: abuse, sexual abuse, self-harm behavior, and eating disorders. However, as the practice of employing trigger warnings has become more widespread, warnings are sometimes placed on content that discusses consensual sexual activity (any), BDSM activities, violence, discrimination, sexism, and racism.

Feminist Susan Breslin suggested trigger warnings were used to notify readers who were “EASILY UPSET” that they might “FREAK THE FUCK OUT.” Everyone called Breslin and asshole, and several bloggers responded with explanations like Melissa McEwan: “We provide trigger warnings because it’s polite, because we don’t want to be the asshole who triggered a survivor of sexual assault because of carelessness or laziness or ignorance.”

In the ensuing discussions, lots of people noticed how differently the term “trigger” was defined. Some people think a trigger is something that simply reminds a reader of an upsetting event from their past, some think a trigger is something that brings on emotional distress, and others use trigger to mean something that could bring the reader to engage in self-harm, experience a mental break, or even commit suicide. There’s also a wide range of interpretations on what topics should be prefaced with a trigger warning. Suggested topics range from discussions and descriptions of racism and drug use, to self-harm and disordered eating, to rape and physical abuse. As of now, there is wide it  disparity between various interpretations of what constitutes a trigger and what should be given a trigger warning.

Technologies of Trigger Warnings:

  • Tumblr Savior – A Tumblr script for readers that “Saves you from ever having to see another post about certain things ever again.”
  • Tumblr SafeDash – A Tumblr script for readers that hides all images in your Tumblr Dash until you mouseover.
  • WordPress Trigger Warning Plugin – A WordPress plugin for bloggers that allows you to “wrap the trigger content in [trigger][/trigger] to hide it. Readers can choose to read the trigger content by clicking on the “Show” button.”

Dumb Domme Discussion:

I get it, I really do. In theory, I think notifying people of potential triggers is a good thing. But like lots of other good things, when groups grapple for control of a practice, and when that practice becomes an institution, it risks becoming diluted by broad and incorrect application. As a result, the practice also risks being protested and parodied.

Examples of too-broad and incorrect application are everywhere.

  • One blogger suggested that her essay about trigger warnings could be triggering.
  • Along with generally agreed upon topics like rape and abuse, some lists of potentially triggering topics include spiders, slimy things, and “Anything that might inspire intrusive thoughts in people with OCD.” (Um, couldn’t that be anything?)
  • I saw a tweet where the author said s/he couldn’t continue reading a blog post because it had “triggery” language that suggested happiness (I’m not kidding).

Does Dumb Domme (Have Triggers)?:

Do I have triggers? I don’t think so. There are certain things I don’t want to read about or see depicted on television because they remind me of upsetting past events. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say I can’t see them (like, I’m unable to read/see them), but I don’t want to see them. Certainly, reading about stuff I don’t want to read about could upset me, but I don’t know if I’d call that a “trigger.”

The answer was "no."

The answer was “no.”

There are a lot of things that make me remember events I wish I could scrub from my brain… do those count?

  • JumboTrons
  • the sound of someone else vacuuming
  • grocery stores with pre-made sushi
  • Groupon
  • slimy pumpkin goo
  • tequila

Lots of bad memories up in that list. If you’ll excuse me… I’m going to go to my happ…

 Fuck, I almost forgot…

TRIGGER WARNING: The following statement contains language that might be upsetting to those who find happiness triggering.

 

Ok… now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go to my happy place.


works consulted: Geek Feminism Wiki    Fuck Yeah, Trigger Warnings    “Trigger-Angry: The Politics of Internet Trigger Warnings”    Washington City Paper, “Trigger Warnings and Being an Asshole”    “I Write Letters” (Dear Susannah Breslin)  “Trigger warning: This blog post may freak you the f*** out” (cached at Internet Archive)  “Sexual Assault, Triggering, and Warnings: An Essay”  •  Common Trigger Warnings

  11 Responses to “BDSM Lexicon Entry #18: Trigger Warning”

  1. Giiiiiirrrl!

    Did someone REALLY propose to you on a Jumbotron…and you said NO?!

    You are my hero(ine)!

    Damn. Now I need to buy you a drink and you're not exactly next door. What the hell am I supposed to do now? FedEx? I have a FedEx account…I can put in all the ingredients for a Manhattan and mummify them and a martini glass in bubblewrap and have it to you by end of business tomorrow… *chuckle*

  2. @Lily: "Did someone REALLY propose to you on a Jumbotron…and you said NO?!

    Of course I did. Anyone that proposes marriage to me on a JumboTron obviously doesn't know me very well and has no business proposing anything.

    Even if I had wanted to marry him, I would have said "no" anyway, just to teach the stupid fucker a lesson.

    "You are my hero(ine)!"

    Ah, if you only knew… I sold off a couple of engagement rings to help pay for grad school. (always tried to give them back, but that's a good story for another time) I didn't want to get married, I wanted to finish school. Little did I know that refusing one would facilitate the other. :)

    "Now I need to buy you a drink and you're not exactly next door."

    Maybe you could just send me drunken-vibes? :)

  3. You are so fucking hot, D.

    You know that i'd do almost anything to try and bring a smile to Your face. Props to whoever told You that lately and inspired You to put it on Your twitter and Your front page.

    submichael65

  4. @submichael65: "You are so fucking hot, D."

    Why thank you! It's one of the few things I never seem to tire of hearing. :)

    I'm good at being hot, it's just that my lack of grace, self-centeredness, and general penchant for navel-gazing often obscure that fact. ;)

  5. I know the tweet you're talking about, or think I do, and I get your reaction to it too. When only assholes can talk about happiness, only the assholes will be happy. Or something like that.

    I was triggered once, and I didn't even know I really had anything to trigger. Certainly I'd read right past many many trigger warnings before and been totally fine. The post didn't have a trigger warning, but I don't think that it would have mattered if it did or not.

    The Groupon thing makes me wonder… oh shit I just said the forbidden word. Sorry.

  6. @Conina: "I know the tweet you're talking about, or think I do, and I get your reaction to it too. When only assholes can talk about happiness, only the assholes will be happy. Or something like that."

    No, that wasn't it. This tweet author suggested that language describing happiness was a trigger for her/him.

    "The post didn't have a trigger warning, but I don't think that it would have mattered if it did or not."

    Do you mean that you would have read it anyway (because you didn't know it was a trigger for you)?

    Groupon? Death to Groupon.

  7. i'll have to look up naval gazing…

    michael

  8. No, I wasn't quoting the tweet, that was my commentary on being triggered by language suggesting happiness. Sorry for being unclear.

    Yeah, I would have read it regardless. I still would. I'm too curious to bother not reading something once I've started.

  9. I would like a trigger warning for blog posts with bad grammar, poor spelling, and unreasonable punctuation. :-)

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