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Apr. 13 2010 - 7:54 am | 16,384 views | 0 recommendations | 83 comments

Trigger warning: this blog post may freak you the f*** out

Symbol of feminism based on Venus symbol

Hear us trigger, Image via Wikipedia

Every once in a while, I read Feministing, a ponderously feminist blog written by a collective of women who appear to be very angry about the patriarchy, misogyny, and, well, dudes in general, and they are not going to take it anymore, dammit!

To combat the rising tide of all-things-guy, they complain about sexism, posit themselves as victims, and agree to band together to fight an enemy that I never seem quite able to locate.

As a friend of mine likes to say: Isn’t this movement dead already? Apparently not.

In any case, I’ve noticed as of late a new addition to their bloggy style, which is the inclusion of the phrase, often IN ALL CAPS or TOTALLY BOLDED, which announces incoming SCARY content with a “TRIGGER WARNING.” WTF is a “trigger warning”? Yeah, I had to look that one up myself. Thankfully: Google.

According to Yahoo! Answers (which, BTW, is a great place to turn if you’re worried that having sex while pregnant could result in a pregnant fetus), a trigger warning is: “A warning placed in the title of an e-mail or post to let possible readers know that the content might trigger (or upset) them.” This seems different than the more widely used “spoiler alert,” which is used if you’ve seen a movie that other fanbois haven’t, and you want to reveal the ending, but you don’t want all your fanbois to freak the fuck out.

After some in-depth research (like, half an hour, maybe?), I was able to conclude that, for whatever reason, the feminists are all over their TRIGGER WARNINGS, applying them like a Southern cook applies Pam cooking spray to an overused nonstick frying pan. It’s almost impressive, really. I guess the idea is that blog posts are TOTALLY SCARY, and if you are EASILY UPSET, if you see a TRIGGER WARNING coming, you can look away REALLY FAST, or click elsewhere, so you won’t, you know, FREAK THE FUCK OUT.

Fascinating stuff, really. I guess I should’ve posted a trigger warning with that WikiLeaks.org video. Oooops! Come to think of it, probably 87-percent of the internet needs a goddamn trigger warning these days. No, wait. In fact, let’s just rig up this whole thing so every time you turn on your computer, all you get is one big TRIGGER WARNING, and that’s it. I’m sure that’ll take care of this epidemic of blog posts too scary to read real quick.


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  1. collapse expand

    I’ve actually been thinking about the trigger warning a lot lately. I love the feminist blogs, including Feministing, but it seems as though every other post is headed with “TRIGGER WARNING!!!” which I think is, in a way, really considerate of their readers who have survived some sort of trauma. But it also reminds me of this knitting group I had to extract myself from because while everyone there was really awesome and smart and feminist, they also all seemed to suffer from ridiculous anxiety disorders, were allergic to all foods (there was a lot of talk about “nighshades” ?!), and had some insanely traumatic story to tell. And I don’t want to seem like I’m belittling them or anyone who has some kind of hardship in their life, but sometimes I wonder why everything ever is considered a trigger.

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    President Obama has named the month of April has been designated as Sexual Assault Awareness month. The posts at feministing and a lot of other feminist blogs have been focusing on that topic, and the trigger warning is both an attempt to remind readers what’s going on, as well as an attempt to be sensitive to those who may have experienced rape or other forms of sexual abuse.

    Feminism isn’t about angry man-hating, nor do the writers at feministing characterize themselves as victims (which is a largely anti-feminist position) and it’s irresponsible to characterize both the movement and its participants as such. To do so only displays the same willful ignorance about the topic that resulted in this article, which could have been avoided by more careful research.

  3. collapse expand

    Or, you know, a trigger warning is a way of warning survivors of abuse and/or trauma that what they’re reading could be upsetting/triggering for them. I know other sites that do it with pictures/posts about eating disorders, or cutting, because they could be triggering for those with a history of them.

    Maybe Yahoo answers wasn’t the best source to look up what a “trigger warning” really was, and the purpose it serves. And to mock it, the way you did in your post title, completely minimizes and invalidates the experience of the person that has survived a traumatic event.

  4. collapse expand

    For some reason I can’t see what anyone else has said, but just kind of an FYI: that is not what trigger warnings are for. Feminists do talk about misogyny, and the effects of it, which in many, many cases comes down to abuse: physical, emotional and sexual. Trigger warnings are for survivors of such abuse, so they can opt to not read something that might have them to break down during the day, something that might cause them to relive such a traumatic experience. You can sit there and be all “oooh, look at these feminists, apparently everything freaks them the fuck out,” or you could actually contact one of them, like say, http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/ and actually read what they mean by trigger warnings. Google is not the pantheon of knowledge you believe it to be.

  5. collapse expand

    Trigger warnings aren’t about things one might find distasteful, but things that can bring about an episode of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome–you know, an actual medical condition. Perhaps someone who has been the victim of violence might want to brace him/herself before reading, or not read at all. It’s a rather polite, sensitive and compassionate courtesy to readers.

    Susannah, I encourage you to get your answers from websites other than Yahoo! Answers. Also, to check your vitriol before accusing other bloggers of being angry.

  6. collapse expand

    I actually wasn’t too familiar with the whole “trigger warning” phenomenon until I read this, so I went back and looked at the Feministing posts. I found most of them that included a warning talked about rape, and other serious stuff that I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe some people could get offended by (like, say, rape victims?). The Internet can be a very cold, uncaring place, and I don’t see what the problem is in providing readers with a little heads-up that they might encounter something offensive, particularly if you’re trying to build a community where people feel comfortable expressing their opinions.

    • collapse expand

      People aren’t “offended.” That’s not what a trigger warning is for. It’s to warn readers who have been TRAUMATIZED by an event (rape, assault) that the content of the post might trigger unnecessary anguish and cause further trauma.

      I don’t understand why the immediate reaction in learning something new inside a feminist or woman-centered arena is to be dismissive. You didn’t even bother to find out more. You didn’t care enough. Or have enough compassion to bother. You simply assumed it’s those hair-trigger bitches whining again.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Nothing about her post sounded dismissive to me. In fact, except for her use of the word “offended,” she said pretty much exactly what you said. And, while I get how the word “offended” is offputting in this context, by a more general definition of the word, it is perfectly appropriate.
        There are plenty of commenters here who are actually being jerks, you don’t need to pick on somebody who is clearly defending the use of trigger warnings, but used a wrong word. Just saying.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          Andrea Nada seem to know a lot about people who “simply assume” things without reading much — and about “hair-trigger bitches”, too.

          You should be more accepting of her uninformed, lunatic outbursts. She must have been victimized or something.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
  7. collapse expand

    So, Trigger Warnings are for women AND MEN who have had experiences with sexual assault. Also, there are plenty of dudes who post at feministing, and they aren’t too fond of misogyny or the patriarchy either.

  8. collapse expand

    I found your post to be deliberately uninformed and cruel. May you learn empathy from following your ping-backs.

  9. collapse expand

    Is this post postfeminist?

    Or, more charitably, is this simply another example of the limitations of blogging. People are fallible, bang out posts that don’t reflect a serious investment of research or polish, disparage a broad group of people with quick-and-dirty shorthand (“the rising tide of all-things-guy”?) and, now and again, get caught with their pants down.

    I haven’t spent much time on Feministing, but I picked up the context of “trigger posts” in fairly short order. As other comments have offered that clarification, I don’t need to rehash it.

    But Breslin shouldn’t be so quick to declare the death (or undeath) of the feminist movement using a blog as her whipping post, when this blog post presents postfeminism as badly wanting in incisive critiques of said movement.

  10. collapse expand

    Hey look! Another author who (in her own words) EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE is exposed to feminists, doesn’t understand what they’re upset about, and then asserts that perhaps they’re hysterical by contending that she doesn’t see the feminists’ enemy (because if she doesn’t see it, surely it’s non-existent, am I right?) and because they are sensitive to their readers while discussing potentially upsetting topics like rape.

    I suppose the author thought this post was edgy, as most others who mock people on the basis of their kindness, compassion, and sensitivity do, but she seems to have forgotten that mocking that which you do not understand is probably as old as human society itself.

    But don’t worry, author. I know you won’t be offended by all the comments here criticizing this article. After all, I had to look no further than yesterday’s article to learn that, to you, journalism is nothing more than a performance; entertainment.


    You wrote: “It’s a strange experience, the performance portion of being a journalist in the digital age. Playing the role of pundit, you turn yourself on, you manufacture soundbites, you put on a show.”

    and: “but go at it like cats and dogs, Jong and I did. At one point, I pointed my finger at her and yelled, “And you need to think about that!”…On the way out, Jong and I neared one another, and I smiled at her, because what we had done on TV was just business, right? Apparently, not to her. She was pissed. For her, this wasn’t a performance. This was her identity.”

    You’re in good company with Glenn Beck there.


    “Beck insists that he is not political: “I could give a flying crap about the political process.” Making money, on the other hand, is to be taken very seriously, and controversy is its own coinage. “We’re an entertainment company,” Beck says.”

  11. collapse expand

    Feministing is against dudes? Why do they read and comment there then? It seems a fairly reasonable site overall to me, though there are some loony commenters who hate men and insist on things like you must be vegan to be a true feminist. I think the main contributors are mostly thoughtful sane people.
    Trigger warnings are for people to consider whether they are in a state to view the content or not, enabling an informed decision, and have nothing to do with being a crybaby.

  12. collapse expand

    Internet tough guy, much?
    “Ooh, look at these wusses, so scarred by being sexually abused! What a bunch of wimps! Making fun of rape victims makes you cool, right? Right?!”

  13. collapse expand

    I love the original post; it’s positively Teabaggerian in its celebration of base ignorance and lack of empathy.

  14. collapse expand

    They put Trigger Warning when they write an article about sexual assault. They do this in case sexual assault survivors are reading.I’m a survivor of rape so I really appreciate it when websites do this.

  15. collapse expand

    This is really insensitive and uninformed. Many of the articles posted on Feministing and other feminist blogs contain information that would be sensitive to recent rape or stalking survivors. By providing a trigger warning, they are informing the reader of possible sensitive content, allowing them to potentially avoid an embarrassing situation, should they read and have an emotional response in a public place, for example. Breslin clearly does not take into account the traumatic effects some situations may cause for victims, and mocking Feministing’s concern for its readers is irresponsible and immature. Sometimes it is hard to empathize with victims of abuse, rape, or stalking and rather than mock them in a blog post, we should seek to understand their feelings and treat them sensitively. Perhaps trigger warnings are of no use to Breslin, but I am certain that they are appreciated by many people dealing with complex and difficult issues who may not feel ready to read about situations similar to their own. As someone who is not coping with a traumatic experience, trigger warnings are not helpful to me. However, they aren’t harmful either, I don’t normally even notice them. Perhaps Breslin could’ve spent her energy and time writing about something constructive. If you don’t like trigger warnings, then don’t read blogs written by intelligent or sensitive people!

  16. collapse expand

    This ham-handed and irresponsibly misinformed post is clearly the work of an unsophisticated thinker incapable of truly intellectual contributions. For that reason responding seems likely to be a waste of time, however the attitudes expressed are far worse than simply moronic, they are dangerous. The thoughts expressed are the signature of cultural and societal attitudes that are endemic to a society in which rape flourishes. You are reinforcing a paradigm which influences the way rape victims are perceived, showing clearly why it is that rape is still tacitly condoned in many situations.

  17. collapse expand

    You want an object lesson in personal branding for the post-modern journalist? Read Susannah Breslin. Maybe take notes, too.

  18. collapse expand

    In my experience, trigger warnings are used to notify people that are recovering from issues like anorexia or self-mutilation that the following content could induce back-sliding. It kind of makes sense that its become a popular phrase on feminist blogs, but its clearly being overused now if its just meant to indicate that some content may be upsetting.

    • collapse expand

      Or, you could look into how it’s actually being used, instead of taking her word for it. Because it’s ACTUALLY being used, yes, in reference to anorexia and self-mutilation, but also in posts about rape, abuse, sexual assault, and extreme violence. These things aren’t just “upsetting.” They can be traumatizing to survivors of these things, and can cause flashbacks and PTSD symptoms.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  19. collapse expand

    Wow, I wish I lived in Susannah Breslin’s world where sexism doesn’t exist and rape is tantamount to a scraped knee. The subheading to her articles shouldn’t be “Off the Record,” but rather “Totally Clueless.” She wouldn’t know what sexism is because she obviously lacks the analytical skills to examine the world around her. I guess she has one thing going for her; she can still use that melon as a hat rack.

  20. collapse expand

    It’s a wonder that the political correctness feminazi police even let you post this!

    Enjoy the pageviews, Susannah.

  21. collapse expand

    You are possibly one of the stupidest people I have ever encountered.

    Recap of your post:

    “I don’t know about this thing. I looked up this thing on Yahoo Answers, which I admit is one of the stupidest places on the Internet. I completely miss the point, but mock this thing that I pretend to understand anyway. I’m ridiculously clueless but somehow think my uninformed opinion is worth other people’s time.”


  22. collapse expand

    You know what you could have done, you supercilious asshole? You could have ASKED at the actual site instead of googling it like the jackass you are.

  23. collapse expand

    Wow you are one class act, lady. I especially like the part where you enjoy the freedom to speak your (warped and clearly incapable of empathy) mind yet disdain the very movement that fought for you to have that ability.

    There are a lot of women who participate in their own subjugation as a means to duck the criticism from oppression (becoming an “honorary dude” by being misogynistic and insisting that women are just hormonal whack jobs, expect you of course), but ma’am, you do take the cake.

  24. collapse expand

    Hey, trigger warning: Susannah Breslin Just.Doesn’t.Get.It.

    This isn’t the first time she’s railed against Feministing (with tired cliches–man-hating? Seriously? Someone who’s been on ‘Politically Incorrect’ can’t do better than assert Feminism equates to angry lesbians with agendas against men?) but this is, by far and away, her most ridiculous tangent to date.

    See, if Breslin actually believed in being a progressive journalist, rather than attempting to completely minimizing how the printed word can stir forth some painful memories and strong reactions of a wide array of pressing issues (including rape, eating disorders and child abuse, just to name a few) she would have read that Feministing has already offered up explanations for why they include trigger warnings.

    More to the point, if she truly grasped the very institution she loves to diss, she would have realized that these issues are uniquely prevalent among females. Meaning that when you have a website dedicated to a given cause, in this case advancing the playing field so that women can even compete, there are going to be discussions of issues that are sensitive and pertinent to them. Many of the women most starkly effected by the social injustice of sexism have likewise been saddled with the lingering effects of patriarchy, such as rape, child abuse and eating disorders.

    It’s basic responsible journalism to be sensitive to the needs of your audience. Because Feministing seeks to empower women, they must first understand where these women are coming from, and that means encouraging them to tread lightly on the subjects which continue to remind us that we are struggling to find equality.

  25. collapse expand

    1 in 4 women are survivors of sexual assault. Many of them have PTSD, and warning them with 2 little words that a post may be triggering to them is the only kind thing to do.

    Triggering (in the sense that feministe uses it) means that a post describes in rather vivid detail violence and especially sexual violence.

  26. collapse expand

    Maybe do a little research next time. You write for who? Surely you’ve done research before.

  27. collapse expand

    I hesitate to even indulge you by commenting, but frankly I’m too pissed to ignore this post. I think I’m especially upset because of an experience I had just last week: I clicked on a link posted by a friend which led to an article that, although it turned out to be about rape, did not have a trigger warning and gave no indication of its subject matter in the title. I am a rape survivor and I was — wait for it — TRIGGERED. I started having flashbacks, and since I was at work, had to go to the bathroom to compose myself. I was upset for the rest of the day and had trouble focusing on my work. I have read material covering the topic of sexual assault before without having this reaction, but it makes a huge difference when I have the chance to mentally prepare myself. As such, I very much appreciate trigger warnings.

    If I actually believed you misunderstood the nature of trigger warnings, I wouldn’t bother responding, as many people have already provided accurate information in the comments. However, while I’m sure I disagree with you on many many topics (considering I’m a proud feminist and you think feminism should’ve died by now), I can tell from your writing that you are not stupid. And to spend half an hour researching trigger warnings and come away with the understanding you pretend to have would require a great deal of stupidity, pure and simple. Two minutes on google is really all that’s necessary to get the gist of a trigger warning and its purpose. So I have concluded you posted this for some other reason — maybe sheer boredom, a desire to hurl some (predictable) insults at feminists, or just to generate page views, as others have suggested. You’re free to disagree with feminists, but I’m writing to request that you refrain from making light of the trauma experienced by victims of sexual assault and the efforts others make to be sensitive to that. Because yes, we survivors are pretty touchy about the topic of rape.

  28. collapse expand

    How to REALLY become a professional victim: http://goo.gl/DbRd

    (Btw, HUGE TRIGGER WARNING!!!!!!!!!)

  29. collapse expand

    So, let me get this straight. We need trigger warnings for cutters, for anorexics, for rape victims, and for victims of domestic abuse. Otherwise the reader could be thrown into a panic attack “triggered” by one of these topics. Could these be color coded for ease of use? What if I’m triggered while peeking down the page of a triggering post to see if it relates to the thing I’m actually triggered by? Could get ugly — I blame you, the author. More warnings, please. More bubble wrap, more fluff.

    Or hey, what if a person who is sent into panic attacks by topics like rape, eating disorders, and violence against women just *stayed away from feminist blogs*? After all, what did you expect them to talk about? Chicken casserole and roadside daisies? Quantum physics and political philosophy? Did you really come to a feminist blog to *avoid* discussion of female victimhood?

    Or what if we could just be honest, and admit that when the topic of the blog is feminism, the TRIGGER WARNING on every other post is like a flashing neon sign, attracting *more* attention to a particularly explicit post, even as it purports to deflect the attention of those to whom it might actually be relevant.

    And in biting her lip and soldiering on down the page, the victim extends her victimhood, the author apologetically acknowledges the fact she’s running a knife down the site of an old wound, and everyone gets to bleed a little more. As long as we never forget we’re hurt, never forget we’re wronged, never forget we’re sad, the feminist blogs will always have readers, TRIGGER WARNINGS and all.

    • collapse expand

      So -this- is what a postfeminist looks like: tired sarcasm and intellectual dishonesty. Lest we forget, feminism isn’t just about man-hating, it’s about female victimhood too! Forgive me if I’m not leaping into the ranks of the liberated just yet.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      “Or hey, what if a person who is sent into panic attacks by topics like rape, eating disorders, and violence against women just *stayed away from feminist blogs*?”

      Oh, excellent suggestion Lydia. Let’s have those victims stay away from the very blogs that strive so hard to respect their experiences, place them in context, and discuss them all while acknowledging that that discussion can be difficult, and that a little forewarning can do a lot towards making a person feel safe and welcome. Yes, that’s definitely the solution here. ::rolls eyes::

      By the way, nice use of self-cutting imagery in your comment. Stay classy.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      People who have endured a traumatic event – car crash, natural disaster, war, rape, domestic abuse – any event that triggers the “fight or flight” response but does not actually allow the person to fight or flee, can develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Often the mind will wall off what happened so the person experiences temporary amnesia about the event as a coping mechanism to keep them from having an nervous breakdown.

      In that disorder, the person can be “triggered” by something to have a flash-back of the traumatic event, where their mind replays the movie of what happened to them as if it were happening again, complete with anguish, distress, and potential mental breakdown.

      Triggers can be anything – something they smelled, saw or heard, or something that recalls the event, like a blog post about a similar event.

      In WWI and WWII and Vietnam, they called this shellshock – where a vet would return home, then snap and go on a shooting spree, thinking he was back in the midst of combat and that the people around him were enemies.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      I think I fall in with Lydia on this one. And this is not to dismiss sensitivity on the part of authors to their audience, but at a certain point a reader has to take responsibility for what she reads in a public domain. If something starts to feel a little dodgy, stop reading it. Instead, turn to the next article on quantum physics and political philosophy for surely these are also perfectly valid topics for feminists too.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        “at a certain point a reader has to take responsibility for what she reads in a public domain.”
        well, you see, this isn’t about taking responsibility. The whole point of trigger warnings is that it is voluntary and courteous to people who have suffered in this world. Which everyone knows is not requisite on the internet. But it’s just- what used to be called “thoughtful.” However, what everyone seems to be missing it that Breslin has equated this thoughtfulness with “Feminists are stupid for wanting stuff like this.”

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          I get that, but I also take Lydia’s point that the practice can get out of hand, and while it may be done under the appearance of politeness, it may also be used to draw attention, and that is a valid insight. It would be disingenuous not to recognize this.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            OK, that could certainly happen. However, it looks like we’re talking mainly about the feminist blogs like Feministing and such, which is what Lydia and Susannah have beef with. And while, sure, no one is outside the temptation to sensationalize, I really don’t see these blogs putting up Trigger warnings like “WARNING! THIS STORY IS ABOUT RAPE! SO NO ONE READ THIS REALLY DETAILED STORY ABOUT RAPE UNLESS YOU WANT REALLY REALLY GRAPHIC DETAILS ABOUT RAPE, THANKS!”

            Because the readership would see what they’re doing and take them down on that pretty quick.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        “but at a certain point a reader has to take responsibility for what she reads in a public domain. If something starts to feel a little dodgy, stop reading it.”

        That’s exactly what trigger warnings are for! So people can decide what they want to read! Before they get to the “dodgy” bit and get triggered!

        Freakin’ genius here.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand


      In response to another comment. See in context »
  30. collapse expand

    There’s a certain brand of woman I like to call a Sister F***er. I call her that because she loves nothing more than to f*** over other women so all the boys will think she’s cool. “Haha, look at all of those dumb women! Aren’t you glad I’m not dumb like them? You’ll hang out with me now, right?”

    Susannah, you’re obnoxious and purposely obtuse and beyond help. (Lydia, you’re pretty close.) But maybe you have a few fans out there who aren’t beyond help, so here’s a quick education.

    A trigger warning is just two freaking words at the beginning of a blog post that say, “Hey, by the way, if you’re a survivor of rape and reading about it could cause you to relive the entire horrific event, you might want to avoid this post and move on to the one that talks about the gender wage gap.” TWO WORDS. I’m sorry it’s so arduous for you to read past them.

    Although I’m sure it’s hard for a person who is so dismissive of the entire concept of feminism to understand, feminist blogs are generally created as a safe space for women AND men to discuss issues in a different context than is available elsewhere. People who are survivors of rape and eating disorders and violence can’t be expected to just *stay away from feminist blogs.* That’s where the SUPPORT is. That’s where there are other people who know what you’re going through and are sympathetic. It’s like saying a recovering alcoholic should avoid AA meetings because everyone keeps talking about booze. A trigger warning just gives a person who has been traumatized the choice to address or avoid that trauma. What a bunch of pussies, amaright?

    Maybe you’re the kind of person who’d take your Vietnam-veteran granddad to see The Deer Hunter without warning him that it’s not actually about hunting deer. If you are, this is not a concept you’ll ever grasp. If you have the slightest bit of compassion and empathy, you might understand why a victim of domestic violence might see those TWO WORDS and think, “Okay, maybe, instead of mentally reliving that horrible ordeal, I’ll not read this post and instead read the one about women and heart disease. Gosh, am I ever glad somebody warned me.”

  31. collapse expand

    But what do you call it if you’re going to post a spoiler about Roy Rogers’ horse?

  32. collapse expand

    My confusion is fading fast – now I just feel stupid and embarrassed.

    I read “They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They?” and thought to myself, “Here’s a perceptive and articulate individual who does serious journalism her way, without looking to the media establishment for approval. I should keep tabs on Susannah Breslin.”

    Now, seeing her throwing integrity to the wind in exchange for attention, I realize I’ve been had. All this talk of “new journalism” is just an excuse to piss-take, to compensate for an inability to write both genuinely and compellingly.

    Lesson learned: it’s the Internet, don’t be such a gullible schmuck.

  33. collapse expand

    Seriously? This is one of the worst things I’ve ever read on True/Slant.

    I am a rape survivor. I also got a 3.5 GPA the semester I was raped and decided to continue studying abroad despite having PTSD.

    You know why they have trigger warnings? For people with PTSD. Its not because someone might get offended, its that they might flip a shit.

    PTSD is an intense disease. Because you frequently react with adrenaline flight/fight response, 10x more than normal people. WTF would you mock people with bipolar disorder? Tell the to “just get over it?” Thats basically what you’re doing, Making fun of people with PTSD.

    Susannah Breslin is very insensitive. Wish she had better things to do than mock attempts to make the world a safer place for rape victims. I’m going to continue to read Allison Kilkenny and Matt Taibbi on this great website. Not read trash blogs written by a woman with little empathy for people who have been raped.

    P.S. I’m a rape victim. If you’re going to mock rape victims’ PTSD, why not mock the PTSD of soldiers who have been to war, or those who were abused as children while you’re at it?

  34. collapse expand

    At this point, given the general tone of this article, and seeing your response to the comments thus far on Blogspot, I seriously doubt whether you’ll allow anything to change your mind. Perhaps you never intended it should be changed; you’ve developed your opinion, and thus it will remain, forever and ever amen, and screw the haters. Perhaps the outright hostility of many commenters merely set off your stubbornness. I don’t know.

    And fine, if you’re dead set on standing by your position that trigger warnings as they appear on Feministe are superfluous–by all means, do so. You do have that right.

    But I would encourage you, so that you can understand where all this hostility is coming from, or to better understand trigger warnings in general, or in the interests of not being callous, to read this essay: http://impertinence.livejournal.com/480847.html (Warning: Very explicit discussion of sexual assault and the nature, anatomy, cause & effect of triggers. Is itself triggery.)

    (Yes, livejournal, how professional, ha ha.)

    It is an essay on what triggers are by someone who has personally experienced them. It is not self-righteous or accusing, but it is eye-opening.

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    Great post, keep up the good work

  36. collapse expand

    Actually, feminist blogs and theory helped me find my inner strength and power and helped me heal after I was attacked. In the years following, I found these safe havens places where people both respected my experiences and understood what I’d been through, and the huge change it brought to my life. If I could stop feeling the pain of what happened to me as easily as you suggest, I would have done it.

    PTSD and Trauma do not just “go away”. To pretend otherwise is to be disingenuous and ignorant at best, and damaging and cruel at the worst.

    One never asks to be a victim. Deep down, you may feel safer imagining that the victims that speak out on these journals are searching for a way to be special or different. The sad truth is that it happens to you like a car crash – you don’t see it coming and its damage is as lasting.

  37. collapse expand

    Why is the Trigger Warning primarily part of the feminist blog space? For that matter, why only blogs? If you subscribe to the benefit of a Trigger Warning then it should apply to newspapers, radio, tv, movies, books, music, etc. Better go back and insert Trigger Warnings into Schindler’s List, Ordinary People and The Accused.

    Someone call Tipper Gore. She can help sort this out.

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      Pretty sure I need a trigger warning on my forehead. CafePress anyone?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      Because feminist spaces have experience dealing with and understanding post traumatic stress disorder, and the subject matter that gets discussed on them is often about surviving personal trauma. And note that PSTD can result from lots of different experiences – anything that triggers the fight or flight response where the person can’t fight or flee and has to endure the trauma. Car crashes, war, and victims of natural disasters often have post-traumatic stress disorder.

      Sure, lots of other media could benefit from trigger warnings. Maybe instead of relying on Tipper Gore, you could look into the matter more, lose the attitude problem you have towards people who’ve suffered traumatic events, and advocate for that.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      Thank goodness that we have people like you to make witty comments to reply to all those stupid, “caring” feminists. So what if you’ve suffered a horrible trauma, amirite people? Lol, those oversensitive babies. Oh hey by the way, war vets, grow a pair! So what if your buddy got blown up right next to you, just stop whining already, sheesh.

      Yea, and the NERVE of those stupid feminist bloggers for using a tool that isn’t used in the mainstream media, gawd, who do they think they are? I mean, there are those things called “ratings” on movies I suppose, and warnings in front of graphic news stories or tv shows… err, nevermind, where were we? Ah yes, making fun of those silly oversensitive feminists. Bet they don’t even shave their legs or wear bras, amirite people?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      i’m assuming you’re in earnest. movies have ratings, which are generally qualified: “rated R for violence,” for example. television frequently has warnings before showing footage that is particularly graphic: “viewer discretion advised.” books have back copy. i can google a movie or book or episode of a tv show and find out fairly easily whether it has content that is likely to trigger me; i can’t do that with a blog.

      instead, the bloggers take it on themselves to determine whether their entry contains common triggers, the same way they label pictures “not safe for work” or warn that there’s a video beyond the cut. it’s a thoughtful gesture. if i post an entry titled simply “my jewelry,” it may not technically be my fault if someone clicks on it at work, unaware that some of my jewelry is located in areas covered by bathing suits, but it would still be nice of me to label the post nsfw. in the same way, no, nobody is required to tell me before i click that their article includes a graphic depiction of rape, but it’s a simple, nice thing to do to add “trigger warning: rape” at the top.

      why is this small act of kindness towards survivors of trauma primarily part of the feminist blogosphere? you tell me.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      Yeah, those exist. Content warnings. On DVD cases and before TV shows. You know, “this program contains scenes of explicit nudity, violence, language, etc etc, viewer discretion is advised.” And rating systems for movies.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    Let me guess – Breslin has never been around someone who has post-traumatic stress and witnessed them experienced a triggering event, has she?

    If she had, maybe she wouldn’t have written such a douche-y post. Love your compassion, Breslin. Hope you’re not interacting with trauma victims regularly. Or ever. For their sake and ours.

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    Susannah Breslin, your essays about your OUTRAGE over feminists aside, I have to ask: why are you such a vapid twit? Really, learn to write in a style that doesn’t suggest you’re some 13 year-old who thinks she’s cool and scandalous because she steals smokes by the schoolyard fence. Wit: get some.

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    What’s the point of this post? That feminists are angry – yes, we are. And if you had a clue about what was going on in the world, you would be as well.

    If it got you to click there, and read what Feministing had to say, then the “trigger” worked.

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    About Me

    I'm a freelance journalist, blogger, photographer, and creator of TheWarProject.com. I've written for Newsweek, Details, Harper's Bazaar, The Daily Beast, Radar Online, Variety, Salon, Slate, Wired News, The New York Post, The LA Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Vancouver Sun, The San Francisco Examiner Magazine, Playboy.com, and many other publications. I've appeared on CNN, Fox News, "Politically Incorrect," and NPR. Currently, I'm working on a novel. My email is susannahbreslin at earthlink dot net.

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