Thursday, 21 May 2015

Sweetie, You’re Part Of The Problem, Stop Demanding A Solution!

Lori Horvitz is baffled that her petard is about to blow up in her face:
Do we, as citizens of this uncomfortable and unpredictable world, have the luxury and privilege of receiving “trigger warnings” before being exposed to disturbing material about subjects like the Holocaust, lynching, murder and rape?
I’m assuming that’s a rhetorical question? Sadly, Lori’s invested a lot of her career in encouraging that very attitude.
I taught courses in literature, creative writing and gender studies at the university level for 18 years without being asked for trigger warnings. But, during the past two years, more and more students have asked for them.
Well, yes. It’s a fad, and we know that these days, you’re nothing if you haven’t got an ‘ism’ or are a ‘victim’. It spreads quickly through the hothouse world of academe, as we know from David Thompson’s blog.

And one day, she slipped up. As anyone would. And a book she hadn’t read all the way through (fatal error!) contained the unmentioned ‘triggering’ material:
One student, in an anonymous teacher evaluation, wrote: “Not providing trigger warnings is not only detrimental to a students’ emotional well-being … but it also represents further invalidation/insult of rape survivors. Providing trigger warnings, honestly, is less of a request and more of a student’s demand for this professor if she intends to teach this class again.”
Wow! Just savour the entitlement, the arrogant self-regard, the – dare I say it? - privilege of the modern day student!
It is statements like these that make me want to opt out of teaching this material all together.
It’s statements like those that’d make me want to run amok with a chainsaw. But then, I wouldn’t be spending my days catering to such babies, and…well, you have.
I want to scream: “I care! This is why I have chosen to teach difficult material, about the oppression of women and minorities, in the first place.” I worry that, by giving in to requests for trigger warnings, professors are telling this new generation of students that they need to be coddled.
Yup! That’s exactly what you’ve done! You’re now reaping that whirlwind. And you can’t seem to see that you’ve sown it.
I’m trying to understand. I’ve led workshops and conference panels about trigger warnings. In my Queer Literature course, I gave out a survey asking: would you want trigger warnings for every potentially triggering reading?
You mean, you appeased and pandered and you wonder why it didn’t work?
As a courtesy, I have begun providing a blanket content warning on my syllabi. Of course, there is no way to know which issues will be triggering for which students. On the first day of class I ask students to be aware of the possibility of triggers throughout the semester and to take care of themselves if they feel triggered — to seek counseling, to step out of the room, to talk with me.
Maybe you should try something a bit blunter? Maybe you should tell them what you’re telling the CiF audience?
I want to tell my students: sometimes I might not warn you. Not out of malice, but because I care. Because the outside world is full of triggers. Because any number of things, at any point of any day – the first few notes of a pop song, or the smell of french fries, or looking into the eyes of the man behind you at the bank – can trigger you. And you need to be ready and strong. You need to be prepared.
Exactly! But why tell us? We already know that. Start telling them.

Because if you don’t, that rod you’ve made for your own back will just get gradually more inflexible…

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ffs: tell students they haven't grown up until they have confronted the world's evils. I don't think awarding a degree to such snowflakes would be right without a short excursion to an Isis zone.

Lord T said...

Everything seems to be coming to a head lately and people like this stupid bint are all starting to get a kicking.

It's so sad. ROFL

Bucko The Moose said...

Ok. I've tried to avoid this for a long while now but I have to ask...

...What the actual fuck is a trigger and what is it supposed to do?

Am I right in thinking they don't want to hear anything they might not like so we are supposed to know what they might not like and warn them before we say it?

Or something?

Fuck that!

Bucko The Moose said...

Never mind.

http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Trigger_warning

PJH said...

Relevant, I believe: http://minx.cc:1080/?post=356686

" The constant refrain from those who have no responsibility for their feelings is "trigger" and "triggering." Triggering is when someone does or says something that "causes" another's negative emotions, and a trigger is a particular word or act that "causes" negative emotions. And apparently anything can be a trigger."

[...]

"The thing is, triggering is a valid concept in psychology and counseling. But it has been swiped and used inappropriately."

[...]

" Speech police types who use triggering improperly to shut down speech are misguided. "

PJH said...

@Bucko: "Am I right in thinking they don't want to hear anything they might not like so we are supposed to know what they might not like and warn them before we say it?"

More or less.

"Fuck that!"

Ohh - you triggered me!

https://twitter.com/rdbrewer4/status/598286088667533312

Dr Evil said...

Trigger warnings are really for the weak minded. I can still remember one or two students running out of a lecture on leprosy when certain rather graphic images of lepers were shown. Like virtually any of the class was ever likely to encounter such profound cases ever in the UK, Europe or Australia or North America where one would most usually or conceivably practice. Trigger warnings are for wimps. I would tell any student silly enough to ask about then to get a spine and man up.

Flaxen Saxon said...

This is what happens when you have a society awash with sociology graduates.

Anonymous said...

Even Krishnan Guru sounds sick of issuing the obligatory trigger warnings.

Jay

CJ Nerd said...

Yiu couldn't make it up.

In the article Bucko links to:

'The phrase "trigger warning" may itself be triggering to some trauma survivors.'

'Some have suggested shifting to "activation warning", or "stress warning." The purpose would be to make the warning more inclusive of a larger range of responses and also to avoid a metaphor that can be a reminder of guns.'


Dr Evil:
'Trigger warnings are for wimps. I would tell any student silly enough to ask about then to get a spine and man up.'

That's offensive to spina bifida sufferers, and women.

Anonymous said...

It's a sort of reverse toddlerhood. You know when said mite shouts the dodgy words to get a reaction from the adults, so now the "adult" cringes at anything they deem dodgy. Is it down to potty training? Definite failure to grow up.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Then these cunts get out into the REAL world, and try and tell REAL people who have seen blood and guts, Not just accidentally read about them in a novel, how to run their lives!

Fucking toss pots.

Lynch the fucking lot till they are 21, then cut them down and burn them alive. TWICE!

JuliaM said...

"Everything seems to be coming to a head lately and people like this stupid bint are all starting to get a kicking. "

I know! It's delicious, isn't it? :)

"Am I right in thinking they don't want to hear anything they might not like so we are supposed to know what they might not like and warn them before we say it?"

Yup! As PJH points out, it's all about controlling language.

" I can still remember one or two students running out of a lecture on leprosy when certain rather graphic images of lepers were shown."

See also: Royal Navy educational film on venereal disease in the 50s!

JuliaM said...

"This is what happens when you have a society awash with sociology graduates."

Well, McDonalds only has so many restaurants... ')

"Yiu couldn't make it up."

Well, you no longer NEED to..!

"It's a sort of reverse toddlerhood. "

Yup!