liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
So I'm pretty intensely pro trigger warnings. I generally agree with people like [personal profile] jimhines: that it's nonsense to consider TWs as censorship. Most of the arguments I've seen against TWs are like Stephen Fry's nonsense (which started this round of the debate), people who feel that the highest moral principle at stake is their so-called free speech right to bully people who are already getting crapped on by society.

Or like that appalling Haidt article, fairly typical of the species, which tried to argue, in a really intellectually bankrupt way, that trigger warnings coddle students. Haidt claims to be worried about "coddling" students by providing trigger warnings, but actually his view leads to the opposite outcome, that only relatively "coddled" students, those who have not experienced major trauma or ongoing chronic discrimination should be able to study at university. I think the choice of language is pretty significant, too; I learned from reading a novel about an early twentieth century gay relationship that coddling was pretty much a homophobic insult, related to mollycoddling or treating someone as if they were effeminate [citation], because men being gentle or kind to eachother is, like, totally gay.)

I do very much buy the framing of (particularly classroom) trigger warnings as a disability accommodation issue. That assumption biases me against any anti-TW arguments, they start to sound like whining about how it's too difficult to deal with all those special needs, which I have no time for. And basically I have a whole pile of articles I've saved over the last few years which support my pro-TW views; I'm not going to dump them all into this post as it's long enough already.

But actually, there are people of good will, not just knobheads like Stephen Fry and Jonathan Haidt, who have concerns about trigger warnings. I try to base my views on contentious issues on actual evidence and logic, not on being on the same side as my sort of people. There are obnoxious people who happen to hold all kinds of views I agree with, and also looking to emulate people-like-me introduces a lot of potential intellectual biases and bubble problems I'd prefer to avoid. Still, I feel obliged to pay attention when someone like [personal profile] legionseagle takes a negative view of TWs. (Ironically she's partly talking about how she doesn't want to be on the same side as Stephen Fry.)

But I'm pretty sure that [personal profile] legionseagle is not simply arguing for an imagined free speech right to bully people; she has real concerns about a lot of bullying going on by people who've c[o]opted "safe space" rhetoric to do it. There's also an interesting artistic integrity argument going on; many stories, in whatever media, make artistic capital out of a horrifying or tragic event coming as a shock to the reader, and having to list everything negative that happens upfront could indeed impact on making some kinds of art. That's less relevant to classroom trigger warnings specifically, but still worth considering, I think. And I can see the argument for preferring the more neutral content note over trigger warning, for lots of reasons including that people don't need to have an official diagnosis of PTSD to be deserving of respect, as well as avoiding the value judgement about which things are inherently horrible. In some ways the most striking part of [personal profile] legionseagle's argument for me is where she explains:
I've enough problems with my own mental health; I can't take responsibility for the whole of the rest of the Internet's.
I haven't quite worked out where I'm going with this but I do think there's a meaningful question of where the onus should be when it comes to helping people to deal with potentially harmful / upsetting / triggering content. And yes, it does seem a danger that women and people who are in generally subaltern positions are going to end up with most of work of providing TWs and related accommodations and support.

Another thinker who really does consider several different sides of the issue, and not a false equivalence between the free speech right to bully people and the right to go through life without being unexpectedly exposed to really harmful stuff, is Meg-John Barker. Here's their fairly old article about A different approach to TWs. They raise many of the same points I'm seeing in the thoughtful anti-TW camp, and take them seriously while being generally in favour of TWs.

I must say, I'm in a somewhat weird position with academic trigger warnings. Because I don't work in film studies or any kind of arts or humanities; I work in medicine, where it's an explicit part of the training that students have to learn to deal with stuff that most lay people would find pretty horrifying or traumatic, illness, gore, death and lots of things from the more unpleasant sides of human existence. We're explicitly trying to train our students for resilience, which is a concept I find in some ways quite worrying, but clearly it is necessary considering things like the exceptionally high suicide rates among doctors. So I wouldn't be expected to give "trigger warnings" for a lot of things that in another context might well be thought triggering, though we do try to provide some kind of safe environment and support for students to deal with all this before they start encountering violence, injury and death for real and up close.

So unlike many academics worrying about this, I don't have much concern that my freedom of speech is going to be challenged or that I won't be able to teach artistically disturbing material. But I do worry that I and my colleagues are not in a good position to protect students as much as we would like to. I mean, generic global 'everything in this course could be disturbing' warnings are worse than useless, but there's the also the issue of what's called authentic experience; the students really are going to have to practise in context where they don't get any warning of horrifying experiences, and that's not just a platitude about how the real world is a horrible place so we shouldn't have to bother being supportive to students, it's completely true in the case of doctors (and many other professions and life paths too, of course). I also worry that people who would be excellent doctors are not making it through the course because of past trauma and mental health and other aspects of discrimination.

But that's why I'm a lot more concerned about students getting too little support than too much, anyway.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 12:09 pm (UTC)
slashmarks: (Leo)
From: [personal profile] slashmarks
Honestly, while I agree "TW are censorship" arguments are nonsense, it mostly concerns me because it's an indication of what people think of disabled students.

I don't actually think trigger warnings are very useful in an academic context - most triggers aren't predictable* and it's probably a more useful accommodation to allow students to step out of the classroom for a few minutes or leave early if something comes up.

Sure, you can cover some of the common upsetting material, but it's also... not necessarily useful to just know 'x is going to come up' if I can't avoid it, you know? (That does depend some on the person.) And a lot of the time it's not even a useful level of information, because people who are triggered by the widely known upsetting topics are often triggered only if a very certain type comes up, or if it's spoken about in a certain way, or if a very specific detail comes up. I know people who are only triggered by child abuse if it's deliberately malicious and people who are only triggered by child abuse if it's justified as being for the victim's own good. I'm generally only triggered if discussion of child abuse talks in great detail about unsuccessful escape attempts.

And then there's the level that's probably closer to censorship in that... certain ways of talking about trauma or the relevant topics are triggering, probably for a lot of people, because sitting in front of someone talking about how rape victims are incurably broken under the excuse of "literary expression" for forty minutes is obviously going to have a chance of setting someone off** - but a warning is in no way going to help that situation. I still think the best way to handle it is to let people leave.

*in a cross-person sort of way -- a lot of people are consistently triggered by eg. green shirts, it just isn't anything inherent about the trigger. Some of mine are a certain type of flower, specific songs I listened to a lot at the time, and the word "fussy." But also in a "some people have no idea something will trigger them until it happens" way.

**This is a true story and it certainly upset me for the rest of the day!
Edited Date: 2016-04-14 12:13 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 04:27 pm (UTC)
slashmarks: (Leo)
From: [personal profile] slashmarks
Yeah, I know seeing trigger warnings on a syllabus would make me more likely to mention to a teacher that I might need to step out for a few minutes if something comes up; in general I tend to check them for whether they include only the default "go to the DRS center" message about disability or if they indicate some familiarity with the subject when deciding how to approach a teacher. I actually do have official accommodations now for other stuff but I have to talk to them anyway, so.

I think the "real trauma trigger" argument is fairly beside the point; there are upsetting reactions that are triggers that look completely identical to non-trauma related ones. Though it would be nice for some of the people going on about coddling to understand the spectrum of reactions here, since someone who starts screaming or faints CAN'T just get on with classwork (*facepalm*) and someone like me whose most common reaction tends to be compulsively seeking out more of the trigger until stopped while getting more and more upset and less and less rational kind of needs some other systems in play before just getting over it is an option. (Not everyone does the avoidance thing.)

I think a lot of people seem to be conflating "x is triggering" with "x is inherently bad" on both sides of the argument. Maybe because some people in social justice circles have been actually using "you're triggering me" to shut down dissent. So, spreading information about the more PTSD-related forms of triggers and the apparently innocuous options is one way to counter that perception among people who think people with PTSD want to be "coddled." The fact that people are saying your content is *upsetting* doesn't inherently mean your content is *bad* or shouldn't be said, even if some content that shouldn't be said is upsetting, you know?

But, this kind of attitude is also why I think it's better to use methods that place responsibility on the triggered person to implement them (eg. stepping outside for a few minutes and then coming back) -- walking out of an argument is not abusing anyone else's rights. Insisting people disagreeing with you triggers you, and because of that they can't do that or have to do that in these very specific ways, does.

ETA: Of course, the benefit of knowing which professors are understanding about disability disappears if they're required.
Edited Date: 2016-04-14 04:28 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 08:06 pm (UTC)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
(Though of course some of the people making misogynist and victim-blaming arguments, who are distressed by finding out about the prevalence of rape, are people are being confronted with recontextualising some of their own experiences as Not Okay, and here I do mean survivors not perpetrators because I have... much less patience for the concept of being gentle with confronting perpetrators with their actions, in general.)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 12:14 pm (UTC)
hatam_soferet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hatam_soferet
chucking a couple of thinks in here:

I have one friend who has PTSD and a set of quite specific but rather odd triggers. She feels rather strongly that she doesn't want (or, really, need) trigger warnings per se; rather, she'd like a general atmosphere of understanding that if she gets triggered, she'd like people to let her go out and calm down and come back without making a huge deal out of it or treating her weirdly. She wants to be resilient.

Same friend has also suffered from the kind of bullying that happens when people who are used to being socially comfortable meet safe space vocabulary. For her, what it usually ends up meaning is that people who generally feel safe (who don't have PTSD, for instance) want to keep feeling safe, even when discussing scary things like PTSD, so they don't want to hear what she really has to say about PTSD, they want her to present a carefully-sanitised version, and if she doesn't take great care to do that, she's the bad person for making them feel unsafe.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 12:55 pm (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
Slatestarcodex criticised the anti-coddling argument in an excellent way:

YOU DO NOT GIVE PSYCHOTHERAPY TO PEOPLE WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT.

Psychotherapists treat arachnophobia with exposure therapy, too. They expose people first to cute, little spiders behind a glass cage. Then bigger spiders. Then they take them out of the cage. Finally, in a carefully controlled environment with their very supportive therapist standing by, they make people experience their worst fear, like having a big tarantula crawl all over them. It usually works pretty well.

Finding an arachnophobic person, and throwing a bucket full of tarantulas at them while shouting “I’M HELPING! I’M HELPING!” works less well.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 01:24 pm (UTC)
shehasathree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shehasathree
Especially when the arachnophobic person is a student in a classroom, there to learn about something completely unrelated to spiders, or, idk, biology in general, where spiders are one particular topic but not something that need be dwelt upon or sued to illustrate particular points. Throwing that metaphorical bucket of spiders would be wrong is pretty much any situation, but it's particularly gallingly wrong when it's being done to people who didn't even seek exposure therapy.

(Okay, i shall stop stretching this metaphor now.)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-15 01:55 am (UTC)
shehasathree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shehasathree
Yes. I am increasingly convinced that any coherent system around TWs (what/when/how to use them) can only ever make sense in a specific context. Maybe as a culture we could be better about defining the contex/s, when that isn't clear. In your example, i wouldn't want to sign up for a class on 'mental health' and then find that it's all about depression and suicide and discusses suicide in graphic detail; by the same token, i wouldn't choose to sign up for a class (or go to the one class out of a semester's worth of classes) on suicide if i were feeling not up to handling it. (Our university handbook has had a note about the necessity of performing animal dissections for biology subjects in there since at least 1998.)

I think a lot of the problems of trying to implement coherent systems around TWs in teaching contexts is that, even with things that are more generally recognised to be 'common' triggers, class discussion is often fairly organic; I can't guarantee that (even though it's not explicitly mentioned in the main course materials) suicide won't come up as a topic of discussion during tutorials, and nor would i want to, because it could easily be relevant. But where a common trigger *is* built into the course content, it doesn't seem too difficult to me to flag it in advance. I actually think that that generally already tends to happen, it's just that it's not labelled "TW".

This post isn't locked, is it?
*refrains from commenting on more specific scenario that happened this week*

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 03:45 pm (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
I support trigger warnings (and non-tolerance of micro-aggressions, and safe spaces).

Although I realise I don't completely know what usually happens in practice, or what *should* happen. Trigger warnings for specific things likely to trigger PTSD, definitely good. Warnings for other things that are likely to be controversial, I'm not sure if people ARE usually calling for that, and if so, if they call for too much, or if that's just made up by people like Haidt.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 05:57 pm (UTC)
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
From: [personal profile] seekingferret
On the other hand, there are forms of psychotherapy, certainly historically at least, that do involve throwing a bucket of tarantulas at a person. I don't know if it's practiced anywhere anymore, and that's probably a good thing, but certainly modern psychotherapy is still evolving and changing and the human brain is a thing we don't understand all that well.

One of the things I hate about all the trigger warning conversations is that it tries to force me to have opinions about the medical aspect of PTSD and I just don't have the experience or training to have reasonable opinions on the subject, and it feels unfair to demand that of me when it's not clear that medical professionals have reasonable opinions on the subject.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 08:14 pm (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
Even if there is a legitimate and currently accepted form of therapy that involves throwing a bucket of tarantulas at a person, what is your opinion on laypeople attempting to practice psychiatry without training or licensing?

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 08:24 pm (UTC)
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
From: [personal profile] seekingferret
My point was that 'legitimate' and 'currently accepted' are moving targets.

My point is that making a deliberate decision to avoid 'common triggers' is also practicing psychiatry without training or licensing, right? There's no choice in this game that isn't. Human brains are funny and messy and complicated things and we spend a lot of time trying to manage both ours and the peoples' around us.

I'm not advocating throwing tarantulas at someone, and I'm especially not advocating doing so as a kind of therapy. I'm also definitely not advocating deliberately triggering people with PTSD as a kind of therapy. What I'm saying is that when we have these debates about this, a lot of medical language is thrown around with a lot more confidence than I think is probably warranted.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 11:23 pm (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
Hm. I agree a lot of the things people say are not grounded in firm medical standards, and I've conflicted opinions when people carry the conversation into generalisations I'm not sure if I support. But I think "NOT imposing something on someone" is generally safer than "imposing something on someone" if there's doubt, because they can always seek it out if they want it.

I think most of the core argument for trigger warnings is not to necessarily omit anything (maybe omit some of the more blatant examples, like casual racism or sexual assault in an otherwise all-ages-friendly show), but to MARK which things contain commonly-difficult things, so people can decide for themselves how best to consume them.

That's not practicing therapy on behalf of the warn-er, only on the behalf of the warn-ee. And people HAVE to be able to decide what's best for themselves.

I mean, I agree, allowing things CAN be tantamount to opposing them. But this seems a case where allowing is safer than not.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-15 01:36 am (UTC)
shehasathree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shehasathree
Agree.

I think most of the core argument for trigger warnings is not to necessarily omit anything...but to MARK which things contain commonly-difficult things, so people can decide for themselves how best to consume them.

It absolutely is not "practicing therapy"; it is practicing healthy social relations with a background awareness of trauma as a thing that happens (not uncommonly) to people.

Giving people the information necessary so that so that they're better able to self-regulate means that more people are more likely to more frequently be able to engage with difficult material.

Afaict, there is no evidence that triggering someone over and over in the name of exposing them to a particular idea does anything useful, for anyone, other than cutting down the cognitive load on a person who wants to be able to talk about whatever they want however and whenever they want, without having to think about it at all. (That might be valid in certain specific circumstances, but seems a comparatively minor concern. Almost everyone understands the benefit to, and does, modify their language use according to context: we don't (generally) swear in church, interrupt a wedding ceremony, talk loudly during a live performance, and so on.)

[Also, it bothers me that people keep describing this imagined scenario as "practicing therapy" or "practicing psychiatry", because...that's not how therapy works! It would be a big red flag to me if any given mental health practitioner tried to decide on my behalf what i should or shouldn't talk about with them (and using what language).]

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 08:11 pm (UTC)
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
(Bessel van der Kolk, for all his many flaws, makes an extremely compelling and well-cited argument that exposure therapy is frequently actively harmful when applied to PTSD, even if consented to -- broadly, exposure therapy involves learning to damp down your emotional responses to stimuli, which leads to damping down your emotional responses to all stimuli, which might well mean that you're less reactive but does not mean you are necessarily healthier. Which absolutely doesn't mean that it's impossible to disassociate stimuli and terror -- just that in the context of PTSD and the neurobiology of trauma, exposure therapy is perhaps... not the best idea ever.)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-15 01:41 am (UTC)
shehasathree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shehasathree
omfg i need to find a concise summary of this and dance around my psychiatrist's office with it the next time she suggests i keep exposing myself to potential emotional abuse from my mother on the basis that the interaction *might* go well, and i need to have more positive experiences with her so i can stop over-reacting and assuming it will go badly. (atm good interactions are screwing with my head almost as much as clearly negative/hurtful ones, bc they are the fodder of second-guessing and gaslighting myself about the reality and importance of all the bad stuff, past and ongoing.)

then my psychiatgrist and i can have a fun territorial dispute about whether or not i am 'truly' traumatised in the relevant ways, i guess.

ugh. i sort-of wish i hadn't just articulated that so clearly. /o\

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 04:59 pm (UTC)
altamira16: Tall ship at dusk (Default)
From: [personal profile] altamira16
I am firmly in camp [profile] legioneagle on this one because I have seen people use trigger warnings as an attempt to show that they are more aware and considerate than each other of various -isms and shout down every newbie who happens to wander into their community. They create trigger warnings for the emetophobes, for spiders, for owls, and for everything else under the sun, and it really washes away any consideration that exists for real people who have actual PTSD.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 08:16 pm (UTC)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
I am a real person who has actual PTSD.

I think it's eminently possible to flag up that "trigger warning: fish" is so vague as to be meaningless (if what you actually mean, and yes this is a real example, is "I'm going to write an impassioned and graphic description of What A Fish Might Think If It Were Human While Being Caught By Means Of Fishing) and to have nuanced conversations about how it might be preferable to use "content note" (so as not to suggest that something is or should be inherently triggering, which can sound a lot to someone for whom that thing is a coping mechanism or value neutral or a pleasant harmless hobby as though they are being told that they are Obviously Bad And Wrong) and to think that things in the space of trigger warnings/content notes are generally useful, if only because they signal "I want to treat you respectfully".

That some people use trigger warnings/content notes as a hierarchical posturing contest says fairly little about the inherent merit of trigger warnings/content notes. We're social mammals. Posturing and status games are, for better or (perhaps more frequently) for worse, a Thing We Do.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 09:30 pm (UTC)
altamira16: Tall ship at dusk (Default)
From: [personal profile] altamira16
What you are saying about content notes makes a lot of sense and seems potentially more useful.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-15 01:42 am (UTC)
shehasathree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shehasathree
+1

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 06:38 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] daharyn
I don't think the conversational use of "coddling" in present-day American English is understood to have homophobic undertones. The rush to give Haidt's article that weight on the basis of your own reading is problematic.

I don't do trigger warnings when I teach. I have presented graphic text about the treatment of black people both during and after slavery, footage from the Vietnam conflict that shows the murder of civilians by US soldiers, and photographs of the immediate aftermath of Hiroshima, and have simply said, "ok, now we're going to look at [item]."

In any teaching context my moral responsibility is to the whole, to the greater good. Everyone in an American history course like the one above should know what the aftermath of a nuclear strike looks like, what war looks like, how slaveowners treated their slaves. Failing to provide that information via the clearest means possible would be unethical.

Trigger warnings promote the illusory safety of the individual at the expense of the greater good. The only way my classroom is "safe" is through me--my own accessibility, my openness, my willingness to profess the truth and to engage with my students. I am the person who creates the space in which my students can learn and grow and take risks. If I fail to do that, then future classes should come with a "trigger warning" about me, not the content. I'm the person setting the tone for the experience.

Education is about modeling ways to engage with content, even stuff that might make you flinch. You don't impart that essential lesson if you give everyone an out before you begin. I think we should all focus on how we create learning communities, and put the attention there, so that we are all relating to one another as humans in the face of tough content.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 08:50 pm (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
I appreciate accurate labeling for general content, common triggers, and things which specific members of the known audience have said are issues. These things are super helpful in helping me make informed decisions about if/when to engage with something, especially when a friend who knows me well says "Okay, it's got X which I know is an issue for you, but since it has Y handled super well and I got a lot out of it and I think you would too" -- that is genuinely helpful. It treats me as a person with agency who can make informed decisions about my life given the information.

Even when it's not a friend who knows me personally, but say it's a class about filmmaking and it includes a movie which happens to feature, for example, rape or genocide. Surprising the students with rape or genocide is generally not helpful. Telling the students "this has got rape in" -- not as helpful as it could be! Telling students "This has got rape in and I expect that you will probably find it upsetting; it is meant to be upsetting and it is part of this movie's discussion about the culture of violence around sports; it's also a great illustration of some principles of film and I would like to discuss some of the technical qualities afterwards." -- acknowledging that this is a thing that is there, that it's a crucial element of the thing, that it's going to be discussed, and a sense of how it's going to be handled. This will let people with a varying range of responses figure out whether they're up for it or not and do whatever preparation they need to do.

I do not appreciate:
General content labels being characterized as "trigger warnings" specifically unless there's actually a person likely to be reading who has that as a trigger (like, I would not label a post about music "trigger warning: R.E.M." unless I know someone reading me has a traumatic response to that band)
Having other people breach a the privacy of a third party to me, by means of labels of stuff that's unlikely to be generally upsetting characterized as trigger warnings -- now I know that a member of the expected audience has some trauma around the band R.E.M. and while I would not use that information for evil, it's the sort of thing I'm uncomfortable in general with potentially vulnerable kids disclosing into seriously unsafe spaces of the internet
Having the person posting the content attempting to dictate what I, as a person who sometimes has traumatic responses, should do in the event that I have a traumatic response -- that's not helpful, bro. No, I should not go have a warm bath and remember to breathe. You're a stranger on the internet and you're not allowed to micromanage my life.
Having the person posting the content attempting to gatekeep who is and is not allowed to consume it -- the "if you've been traumatized by bananas DON'T READ THIS IT HAS BANANAS IN IT!!!" thing -- look, the "it has bananas in it" is relevant information, but a) you're not me, and b) you're not my doctor, so c) if I read it despite the "has got bananas" label and wind up MORE traumatized, that's on me not on you, and d) supposing I've been traumatized by bananas because my mean older brother terrified me by saying they were radioactive and I'm dealing with this by RESEARCHING BANANAS TO FIND OUT THEIR ACTUAL LEVEL OF RADIOACTIVITY AND WHAT THAT REALLY MEANS.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 09:03 pm (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
And, you know, if I've asked a friend in confidence to tell me when something contains say the death of a pet insect, and then see them say "trigger warning: insects" on something -- they've done a few things.

a) that's a broad category, and I'm now not sure whether this is a post about someone killing someone's pet praying mantis, or a loving close-up of a beautiful moth, or OMG I FOUND COCKROACHES IN THE KITCHEN.
b) they've conflated my request with what I feel is a specific response -- I'd rather not be needlessly upset by the thing and last time I was in fact pretty dang upset, but it wasn't what I'd characterize as a traumatic response
c) they've outed the fact that someone in their audience is more-than-background bothered by the thing, since it's not a super common warning/label.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 09:20 pm (UTC)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
Telling students "This has got rape in and I expect that you will probably find it upsetting; it is meant to be upsetting and it is part of this movie's discussion about the culture of violence around sports; it's also a great illustration of some principles of film and I would like to discuss some of the technical qualities afterwards." -- acknowledging that this is a thing that is there, that it's a crucial element of the thing, that it's going to be discussed, and a sense of how it's going to be handled. This will let people with a varying range of responses figure out whether they're up for it or not and do whatever preparation they need to do.

Yes! This is why, broadly, I can handle Orphan Black without specific content notes: because holy shit does that show have Every Single Trigger, but it has also absolutely consistently (for three seasons now) handled and contextualised them in a way that I know I can cope with, and that means I trust it: I don't need warnings for the specifics, because it is going to look after me.

(Of course this means that if it stops being reliable in that sense it'll upset me pretty badly, but hey. For now, the important thing for me is that it doesn't flinch away from graphically awful shit, but it also doesn't pretend that any of it is anything other than awful, and it exhibits compassion and nuance and complexity in ways that really, really work for me.)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-15 01:57 am (UTC)
shehasathree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shehasathree
+111

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-15 09:01 pm (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
I know a specific person who has a traumatic response to some specific songs from a specific band, because they were raped, and guess what was on the radio? (I use R.E.M. for my example because I love them and as far as I know I *don't* know anyone who has a traumatic response to that band. Though the sound of their music does make one of my friends depressed if they're exposed to it for too long...)

They told me that they need to avoid the band in question, therefore if I'm aware that there are songs by this band in anything I'm sharing, I'll label it, and, I'll try to remember to label other things with non-obvious music for accessibility and searchability.

But since they didn't feel comfortable naming the specific songs even to a fairly close friend, I would be totally out of line to publicly label in the "TW: R.E.M." fashion, even though that's exactly accurate for the purpose of the labeling.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-15 10:30 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] flippac
My last two major partners both tried to manipulate me into handling my (as-yet-undiagnosed but pretty flagrant) PTSD in ways they found easier to cope with, with underspecified personalised TWs being one of the tools to avoid them having to do any work. In one case, I have strong suspicions about the whys of some of it that I shouldn't state in public but which if I'm right led to basically two wasted years of my life.

I don't think much of anyone I've slept with in the last four years, funnily enough.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 11:03 pm (UTC)
ayebydan: (cap)
From: [personal profile] ayebydan
Another great, thought out, post from you :)

I don't see what the issue is to warn for the most common triggers. It just seems lazy and arrogant not to. However, many people have many different triggers and we cannot warn for them all given how specific some can be.

On a personal level though I have always periodically asked my journals what their triggers are, as my journal is small enough to easily cut or fake cut any triggers for my friends. On that note, it has been a while and I should probs do it.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-15 02:01 am (UTC)
shehasathree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shehasathree
I think "the issue" is that what "the most common triggers" are is a moving target: context-specific, changing over time, and intensely political.

I don't think that's an excuse, but i think it's a (partial) explanation. I think that people who are convinced that the usual rules of civil discourse are enough to protect anyone in a particular discussion from 'real harm' (and who are convinced that being able to freely discuss [whatever they like, in whatever way they choose, without having to take anyone else's needs or preferences into account] is more important) can only ever be speaking from a position of privilege+lack of imagination (or intense internalised -ism/s, i guess). My point is that it IS work (emotional and intellectual labour) to think about these things, and that's part of the reason some people are so resistant to requests/demands/requirements that they do so.
Edited Date: 2016-04-15 02:04 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-15 08:27 pm (UTC)
batdina: (books cats)
From: [personal profile] batdina
coming into this late, and not certain I have much to contribute but ...

I have taught pretty much all age groups, from infants learning to swim, to adult education at my synagogue, and high school, university, etc. Content notes were pretty much never used when I was a student.

That said, my shorthand for this issue is to provide a general notice in the syllabus that there will be things we will cover in this course that might trigger people, and in the interests of my students, anyone who has any concern, is invited to talk to me so I can make sure their needs are addressed. There are different ways to normalize this, and I do so depending on the general make up of the classroom. (for instance, talking about my own triggers, and how I take care of myself, etc.) I don't want students to feel as if they had to expose themselves to the universe to get consideration, but again, can't anticipate everything, etc.

So no, individual content notes, no. But recognition of the issues, yes.

And since I mostly teach humanities, I've never come up with a better way to handle it. But clearly the issue is of interest to me.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-15 10:51 pm (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
That sounds like a clear recognition that there are things that could use notes, and an offer to provide individualized warnings.

It doesn't directly serve students who aren't willing to disclose things to strangers, but it's more of a thing than many teachers will do.

In that context, a "and in past iterations of this same course it touched on things which were issues for X, Y, Z" might help those students figure out what they might want to prepare for?

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-16 01:11 pm (UTC)
switterbeet: (devilgirl)
From: [personal profile] switterbeet
I saw the term "content" warning used in a TW like way the other day and I rather liked it, because it seems very similar to content warnings for age-appropriateness - sex, violence, and swearing. And no one is going around saying, "Well, just let kids watch movies without warning them about the torture scenes! They're going to encounter it in media or the real world eventually!" (also at this point, so many people are squawking about TWs that slipping the same function into a less-loaded term may just benefit people)

We recognize that certain people are going to be sensitive to certain types of content, and we provide a warning so people can opt out, or go in knowing they may have to take some special considerations to process it. (Major disclaimer: I'm not in any way trying to infantilize people with issues that benefit from TWs, and hope it doesn't come across that way.)

I was listening to this podcast on trigger warnings (NSFW ... hey, that's a content warning too!:P) and I think one of the points someone brought up about it is that a lot of the restistance to TWs could be people feeling like they are just never going to be able to cover ALL of it. So there's guilt and shame involved if you DON'T put a TW on something that someone reacts to, so obviously TWs themselves are BAD.

As many other commenters point out, triggers are often so specific that it's difficult TW for group audiences. HOWEVER, I think there are some definite Big Broad Categories of trauma that can be warned for, and doing so for the general public is an act of kindness and consideration.

For your med students, that's another kind of question though. Presumably they sorta knew going in that they would be dealing with gore at least, but "easing them in" according to how far they are in the program might be effective. Personal example (which, TW for killing animals) - I had to euthanize a large number of animals that had been hit by cars for work one year. My supervisor warned me going into it, so I knew. Then the first few times we encountered one, she euthanized it, and I didn't have to watch. Then I watched, then I got closer, then I was euthanizing the "easy" ones (already close to death, not struggling with non-gruesome looking injuries), then the hard ones regularly. It was obviously horrible (although better than letting the animals suffer at the side of the road), and I'm still sort of traumatized by parts of it* but if I'd been thrown into that, it wouldn've been way, way worse.

(*I am most fucked up by the people who deliberately hit the animals, some of whom we were radio-tracking, with their cars though)

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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