Not putting under a readmore because ehehe if you expect me to put discussions of legitimate topics under readmores, sorry guys, here’s your sad disillusionment. :D
So there’s some controversy that’s sprung up in the Sherlock fandom re: some porny comics. I don’t want to get too specific to the comic, but mainly it was about rape triggering, and I do want to talk about trigger warnings somewhat, because it seems — inexplicably — to be a thorny issue.
I’m fortunate in that I’m not easily triggered by anything in particular - racism; sexism; rape. I can look at these issues logically, for the most part. But I recognize that a lot of people can’t.
Part of the issue is that when people get triggered, they often get angry and defensive, and sometimes other people find such anger unwarranted.
Welp, in my opinion - FUCK THAT. Please, don’t tell someone who’s been triggered or who finds something offensive to “calm down” or that they’re “overreacting.” In my opinion, there is no such thing as an overreaction: in fact, the word ‘overreaction’ has a built-in judgment and as such I will never use it. People react to situations and that’s what they do and that’s just how it is; your perception of their reaction is irrelevant.
Example: If someone tells me, “HOW THE FUCK DARE YOU BLOG ABOUT SHARK ATTACKS WITHOUT PUTTING A TRIGGER WARNING FOR SHARK ATTACKS? I JUST SPENT 15 MINUTES HYPERVENTILATING, YOU FUCKING BITCH.” You know what? I will privately consider you an asshole, because yes, let’s be honest here, you’re not showing any regard for my feelings, so your asshole-ness is a plain truth. But I will never say or think you’re ‘overreacting,’ because that would be a subjective mindset based on your emotions, which I can never fully understand. And I will promptly tag said shark attack post.
This absolutely does not mean everyone’s got license to asshole all over the place. Jesus Christ, people, be nice. You can be angry and react strongly and still muster up the energy to be nice. I know; I’ve been pissed off and triggered as fuck and I have been nice about it. Easy solution: If you’re in a state of mind where you’re pretty sure you’re going to be an asshole if you reply? Wait until you’ve calmed down. Impulse is dangerous, and since it’s the internet, we have the luxury to delay things like that. You’ve been hurt, and I’m sorry about that. What you have to remember is that you always have the power to hurt someone else, and you should always do all you can to try and prevent that. Even if you’re angry. Even if you’re triggered.
Short form: Anger, yes, okay, check mark, you have every right to be angry. Being an asshole: a bit not good. React how you want, but make it an expression of your own opinion, not a way to be mean to others.
If your reaction to my “be nice” suggestion is, “Fuck it, it’s their fault they triggered people and were stupid enough not to tag it! I won’t be nice in reaction to that!” Then I’d like to remind you that 1) they probably weren’t trying to trigger anyone and 2) EVEN IF THEY WERE trying to trigger someone which is HIGHLY UNLIKELY, it’s your job to respect them. Everyone deserves respect; even assholes. And especially unintentional assholes.
I understand I might come off as condescending in this next bit (actually, in this entire post. eh, sorry I’m not sorry), but I’d like to draw up a how-to for both parties on how to handle things:
- If you post something that someone could interpret as triggering, to the best of your knowledge? Tag that shit. Do it. Now. No one will take offense at that, I promise. (And I promise it even knowing this is Tumblr. XD)
- If you see a post that hasn’t been tagged with triggers, and it triggered you, or you think someone might be triggered? Message the OP and request (politely dammit) that they tag it as such.
- OP: If someone who got triggered asks you to tag your shit, please do. If it happened once, it may happen again, and it’s not hurting anyone to tag it as such.
- OP: I know rape apologism is a big thing, but I never see the harm in an apology to your followers on top of an effort to rectify the situation. An apology isn’t generally looked down on; it’s the mindset that an apology makes it all better, or that an apology means nothing bad has happened, or that the person who apologizes is no longer at fault.
In your apology, what you shouldn’t do is try to justify yourself. The fact that you’ve tried to remedy the situation by adding a trigger warning shows you’ve taken a step to acknowledge people’s needs, and that shows you’re a compassionate person, and that says more than anything you could do to try and justify what happened. If you apologize, stick to facts. “I’m sorry. I’ve done what I can to try and fix it. I’ll try harder to accommodate people in the future.” That’s all anyone can do.
- OP: If it was unintentional, don’t try and put that up as a shield. Because who gives a shit? It still happened. (And anyway, it’s probably implied that it’s unintentional. Because unless you’re a piece of shit, you’d never trigger someone intentionally. And you shouldn’t assume others consider you a piece of shit. But moving on.)
- OP: Learn from this experience. If you post something similar, tag it. In case. Because we’re living on this earth together, and if something as simple as a tag can make the difference between someone happily scrolling through a dashboard and 15 minutes of hyperventilation - yeah, you owe it to the people who follow you.
"It’s my blog, I post what I want" arguments: Invalid, unless a) you have no followers and it really is JUST YOUR BLOG or b) your blog has a trigger warning in the description that warns people who are easily triggered not to follow you. Even then, it’s tough/debatable, given Tumblr’s reblog function; your post could easily show up on dashes of people who don’t follow you.
I mean, look, guys. It’s pretty simple. We’re all different people with different life experiences, and we’re all on a website together. It goes without saying that our words and creations have the potentiality to hurt others. It’s our job as creators to try and minimize that potentiality. No one’s consciously going around looking for a trigger; it just happens.
My dad said the word “African-American” a couple weeks ago, and I said, “I could be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure it’s ‘Black American.”
He chortled and said, “They change it so often, who knows?” After thinking for a second, he said, “If you were talking with someone who took offense at you calling them ‘black,’ what would you do?”
I said, “I’d apologize, ask them what they preferred to be called, and I’d take that into account for the future.”
Honestly, in the end, the best we can do in the aftermath of having triggered someone is stay civil and take as many precautions as possible to avoid a repeat performance. Those of us who are privileged in that we’re not sensitive to triggers: it’s our prerogative to account for the needs of others. Things we’ve done, mistakes we’ve made? We can’t necessarily fix them, but we can always fix ourselves. The world is a work in progress; we are works in progress, and we’re all imperfect.
I mean shit, if you make a mistake, just acknowledge what you’ve done. Then acknowledge that everyone’s reaction is legitimate. (If they’re being an asshole, I’m sorry. That sucks. Don’t lash back.) Stay civil, stay open-minded, and stay ready for self-improvement.
And above all, always remember that you never have to be an asshole. That’s a choice you make for yourself.
For anyone who follows me (or for that matter, for anyone who sees my shit ever): If anything I say or do triggers you, message me and tell me. I want to know so I can fix it and know for the future. And yes, I realize this makes me accountable to the specific needs and wants of nearly two and a half thousand people (and via reblog, all of Tumblr). I don’t care. I live on the earth; as a human being, I am accountable to the needs and wants of over seven billion people. I live my life in acknowledgement of that fact, and unless you want about seven billion sad awakenings, you’d better acknowledge it too. People aren’t around you in some sort of swarming impenetrable mass. You touch them and affect them just as they affect you. They want to be happy and you should want them to be happy, too. That’s what responsibility is.
To make a very, very long story short: Be kind, motherfuckers.