- Triggered – The New Republic published an article the other day entitled “Trigger Happy: The ‘Trigger Warning’ Has Spread from Blogs to College Classes. Can It Be Stopped?” I thought it was both poorly argued and mean-spirited, and Melissa McEwan does a good job of breaking down how the article fails her.
Well, first it’s important to understand what a trigger warning actually is. And for that, it’s important to understand what being triggered really means: Being triggered does not mean “being upset” or “being offended” or “being angry,” or any other euphemism people who roll their eyes long-sufferingly in the direction of trigger warnings tend to imagine it to mean. Being triggered has a very specific meaning that relates to evoking a physical and/or emotional response to a survived trauma or sustained systemic abuse.
To say, “I was triggered” is not to say, as it is frequently mischaracterized, “I got my delicate fee-fees hurt.” It is to say, “I had a significantly mood-altering experience of anxiety.” Someone who is triggered may experience anything from a brief moment of dizziness, to a shortness of breath and a racing pulse, to a full-blown panic attack.
Speaking about trigger warnings as though they exist for the purposes of indulging fragile sensibilities fundamentally misses their purpose: To mitigate harm.
- The Trigger Warned Syllabus – Not everyone is a fan of trigger warnings, of course, but I find their arguments unpersuasive. Is it so burdensome to state upfront that you’ll be discussing something upsetting like sexual assault, abuse or warfare? Can’t lecturers list it on a syllabus so students can prepare themselves or speak to the teacher ahead of time?
But, I’m not sure that’s at all the kind of deliberation universities are doing with their trigger warning policies. Call me cynical, but the “student-customer” movement is the soft power arm of the neo-liberal corporatization of higher education. No one should ever be uncomfortable because students do not pay to feel things like confusion or anger. That sounds very rational until we consider how the student-customer model doesn’t silence power so much as it stifles any discourse about how power acts on people.
- Forget The Oscar: Jared Leto Was Miscast in Dallas Buyers Club – Time ran this and another piece criticizing Hollywood’s practice of using male actors to portray trans women. Not only does it limit the work available for trans actresses, it perpetuates this idea that trans women are just men in a dress and makeup and playing a role.
As a trans woman, I’ve been watching movies that have major roles with trans characters for years. Film after film, I’ve sat on my couch or theater seat and wondered to myself why the directors almost never get it right. Why is the main or supporting character played by a cisgender person when they have plenty of other actors in the film that are trans, and giving a stellar performance? Did the investors of the film decide it was too risky? Was it the director who felt that the trans people who auditioned were not good enough? Did the director even audition trans people?
- It Turns Out My Partner Is a Woman, So What Does That Make Me? – I thought this was an honest, thought-provoking look at how gender and orientation intersect and when language can’t quite do it justice.
When you find out that the person you love is of a different gender than you’d thought, you end up with a lot of questions. Amidst the cacophony of questions I had about her, her experience, her thoughts, the vocabulary, the pronouns, the medical information, the surgical plans and all the other minutiae, the one thing I kept circling back to had nothing to do with her. It was about me:
I’m a self-identified gay man whose partner is a woman, so what does that make me?
- Let’s Call Sex Work What It Is: Work – Melissa Gira Grant is over at The Nation with an excerpt from her book Playing the Whore where she advocates decriminalizing sex work and treating it as work to lift the stigma that dogs those who do this work.
Opponents of the sex industry, from the European Women’s Lobby to reactionary feminist bloggers, like to claim that sex workers have the audacity to insist that their work is “a job like any other.” By this, it’s safe to say, anti–sex work activists are not simply agreeing with sex workers that the conditions under which sexual services are offered can be as unstable and undesirable as those cutting cuticles, giving colonics or diapering someone else’s babies.
What sex work opponents actually have in mind when they cringe at the idea that sex work could be “a job like any other” is that sex work does not—and cannot—resemble their work. When anti–sex work crusaders think of “jobs,” they’re thinking of their more respected labor administering social projects, conducting research and lobbying. To consider sex work to be on the same level as that work breaks down the divisions that elevate some forms of labor while denigrating others.
- May Day 2014: Scarleteen Strikes (Or, With Your Help, We Don’t.) – It’d be a shame if Scarleteen had to go offline. They’re a wonderfully accessible source of accurate sex-ed for teens and young adults.
We’re deeply disheartened to announce that we effectively were able to raise nothing from this year’s ask. Nothing from the one big ask we depend on to keep going, whose returns, when we see them, are needed to pay for our basic costs so we can provide things people rave about day after day, year after year.
What we’re left to work with at the present time, then, is what we receive on average from donors right now, which only comes out to around $3,000 a month. That’s less than the monthly median household income in the United States to run a single household, when we’re an organization that serves millions each year; one of the few places online created and run expressly and solely to provide truly comprehensive sexuality and relationships education, information and support for young people, for free, and has been doing so for a decade and a half as a pioneer and leader in the field. That’s not enough for us to do all that we do.
With no radical change in giving and support immediately — and a change that is permanent, not just reactionary — Scarleteen as we know it, and as our users use it, may just be over.
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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.