Trigger Warning: Insufferable Dingbat Ahoy

I should probably just leave Susannah Breslin alone, because after a while writing about her just feels like kicking a puppy (a totally asshole-y puppy, but still). She is such an easy target and such a complete failure when it comes to logic and rationality that for a minute I feel bad going for such low-hanging fruit. But then she is also such a nasty person — and a nasty person who has a relatively large platform, and for some ridiculous reason keeps getting space on fairly large progressive sites — that I can’t help it. Take her response, today, to various feminist bloggers who wrote about her “trigger warnings are for pussies” post. Yesterday, Susannah had to go to Yahoo Answers to figure out what the heck trigger warnings actually are. Today, however, she knows enough about them to not only declare that they don’t work, but that they are symptomatic of the death of feminism. The whole thing is basically like, “Ugh, you guys, people who experience trauma may be triggered by other stuff in life all the time, and putting a trigger warning is therefore stupid, oh and also trigger warnings are themselves triggering, GOTCHA FEMINIST BITCHES!” Except less coherent.

That is the kind of argument that is so asinine I’m kind of loathe to address it, but because I am feeling uncharacteristically patient today, I’ll say that yes, trauma survivors may be triggered in all kinds of ways throughout their days. No one lives in a bubble, and no one expects to live in a bubble. But all of us, in our own ways, carve out spaces where we feel safe (or safer) in life. Maybe that means not renting Saw III on a Saturday night, or maybe it means when you come to your favorite feminist blog you skip over posts about rape and go on to reading about reproductive rights or pop culture or under-reported stories about women outside of the United States and Europe. Maybe it means that today you feel ok, so you read the post with the “trigger warning” on it. Trigger warnings don’t mean NO RAPE SURVIVORS ALLOWED. They don’t promise protection. What they do is offer one tool for survivors to use in evaluating, today, in this moment, what they are going to voluntarily expose themselves to. No, trigger warnings do not make the entire world safer for survivors of sexual assault. But they do try to make one little tiny corner of the internet safer. And that’s something.

But my favorite part of the post is this:

Perhaps most significantly, trigger warnings crystallize everything that is wrong with the current state of the feminist movement, if it can be called that. These days, feminism isn’t a movement at all, really, but a collection of blogs obsessed with the pop culture it claims to be victimized by, a forum for women who promote themselves as victims of a patriarchy that no longer exists, a pretend movement that contains within it no forward movement at all, only a fetal-like desire to curl up on itself, muttering Women’s Studies jargon, and handing out trigger warnings like party favors at a girl’s-only slumber party.

The so-called feminist movement and trigger warnings are a great deal alike. They no longer exist in reality. They are the stuff of make-believe.

Funny to spend so much time and effort writing about something that doesn’t exist in reality. Maybe tomorrow she can write about the Dodo. He was sure weird.

Also funny that the “feminists are such victims and this shit doesn’t even exist” critiques are coming from someone who portrays herself as a victim of Those Mean Feminists and who thinks politics is just business and a performance and not something people actually take seriously, a person who offers no new ideas or forward momentum at all, only a child-like desire to lash out at women who are actually getting good things done — a person who apparently spends some amount of time muttering the most played-out anti-feminist rhetoric in a shameless attempt to secure a few more bylines by being “politically incorrect.”

But even if we accept Breslin’s ass-covering excuse that feminism doesn’t exist — a claim that I think is kind of belied by the fact that between the three feminist blogs Breslin mentions, we probably get close to 3 million views every month, which means that someone is taking this shit seriously, and those are just the blogs and not mainstream feminist orgs or grassroots activism — Breslin wasn’t picking a fight with feminists, who don’t exist anyway, or feminist bloggers. She was picking a fight with sexual assault survivors. And if I were a betting woman, I would not put my money on her winning.

Similar Posts (automatically generated):

57 comments for “Trigger Warning: Insufferable Dingbat Ahoy

  1. April 14, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I find it odd when people pretend The Current State Of Feminism exists entirely in blogs. As though there are no books, no zines, no off-line groups, no organisations, no individuals who don’t have blogs or read blogs.

  2. April 14, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Nah, we 3 mill. just come around to gawk at your appalling strangeness. That’s why most blogs like this one die out in their first year.


  3. April 14, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    I don’t think she’ll ever see it. Some people are just lost. But what I would say is that because people like her still exist in copious quantity, that here is more than reason enough to keep fighting to counter the vast amount of ignorance out there.

  4. Niki
    April 14, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I’m so bored of this “feminism is just about complaining and today’s feminists never actually do anything worthwhile” tripe. It’s a similar cousin of the “feminism is no longer needed” tripe, and it’s coming from people who clearly know absolutely nothing about the great work being done by feminists today towards eradicating VAW, eliminating the wage gap, fighting to protect and expand reproductive freedoms, I could go on and on.

    Feminists do good work. We don’t just complain about pop culture. That’s one thing that some of us do, yes – and it has far more depth to it than these critics imply – but it is not The Sole and Final Goal of Feminist Theory to Whine About Things That Offend Us. It’s simply the only thing these critics choose to talk about.

  5. PrettyAmiable
    April 14, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Yeah Niki. Here we are, complaining about human trafficking, when we should be enlightened like Susannah Breslin and instead complaining about other women complaining. How silly of us.

  6. akeeyu
    April 14, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Man, I think I needed a “Don’t eat lunch while reading this silly dingbat’s assertions” warning for her quote, there, because I almost choked on my macaroni when I read that the patriarchy doesn’t exist anymore.

    I’m sure it will come as a big surprise to them.

  7. April 14, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I always have a fleeting moment wishing ardently that feminism had really been as successful in changing the world as anti-feminists seem to believe it has. And then I’m sad when I come back down to reality.

  8. Cha-Cha
    April 14, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    I’d like to say also that the “feminism only exists in blogs” trope is basically total erasure of the rest of us… feminists whose work mostly exists offline, mostly in our physical communities /neighborhoods, mostly in our organizing and our offline-and-never-recognized art, and who turn, inevitably, to feminist blogs because on those days when I think I might tear out either (a) my hair or (b) someone elses, reading a blog like this helps me to do less harm, and the newspaper sure as hell isn’t going to help me.

    Feminist bloggers: it’s a swell service y’all provide. Thanks – from the margins.

  9. Grad Student
    April 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    What I don’t get is this “Patriarchy doesn’t exist” bull. As the (male) professor who turned me on to this blog pointed out to me, I have to seriously think about my career in conjunction with my reproductive rights / relationships, because as a young woman, there’s a serious bias against hiring, um young women in Academia. Because OMGadzooks! we might have babies. And take leave. And somehow this excuses paying us 70 cents to the male dollar.

    So if anyone believes we’ve somehow managed to Quash the Patriarchy so very thoroughly, I’d like to invite them to my Institution of Higher Education, where 95% of the female instructors are business-casual or fancier in clothing, while a good 50% of the guys are lucky if they’re wearing pants without holes or paint splatters. I know classroom respect is certainly harder to get in some quarters without a beard. I’m pretty sure I’m currently being paid the same as my male grad-flunky-coworkers, but when I graduate in a couple of years I have no idea if the offers will be equivalent.

    Yeah. “Patriarchy is dead.” Ppppppffft.

  10. Mykie
    April 14, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I can’t imagine the kind of self-hate Susannah Breslin and women like herself must feel. Either that, or they’re seriously delusional, because there’s no way a woman can exist in this society and truly believe that the need for feminism is dead. Really, we should probably feel sorry for them, but I’m with Jill, I can’t keep myself from railing at her incredible lack of analytical engagement and the fact that she actually has a following.

    And yes, feminism is very much alive and well in many forms other than blogs or any form of writing (though this is very important). Most relevant to this topic, feminists do the hard work of helping women to pick up the pieces of their lives after the very women she’s harassing and whose trauma she’s minimizing have been victimized and try to find solutions to help prevent future victims. The fact that she trivializes feminists and their acts in such a manner again shows how appallingly ignorant Breslin really is!

  11. ACG
    April 14, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    OMG! I was “a Sister F***er,” “purposely obtuse and beyond help,” and “the kind of person who’d take [my] Vietnam-veteran granddad to see The Deer Hunter without warning him that it’s not actually about hunting deer”! It is just so refreshing to know your work is being appreciated, right? I’d like to thank the Academy, my mama, and Elvis.

  12. Kathryn Hyde
    April 14, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Yeah why BOTHER with trigger warnings when you know, bad stuff still happens in the world*, and like, why bother doing ANYTHING cos WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE ANYWAYzzzz

    *Um, this is practically the same argument in the movie Clueless, where Cher ends her debate with “so until mankind is peaceful enough not to have violence on the news, there’s no point in taking it out of shows that need it for entertainment value” This lady has the debating skills of a 15 year old. The end.

  13. April 14, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    When I buy a cup of coffee it comes with the warning that the contents are hot. So why doesn’t SB include a post about how the warnings about hot content serve “to fetishize the” hotness of the contents? Why isn’t SB railing about how this warning shows the death of consumerism or the consumerist movement?

    SB writes: “That is precisely why the overuse of trigger warnings was of interest to me. In reality, trigger warnings are unrealistic. They are the dream-child of a fantasy in which the unknown can be labeled, anticipated, and controlled. What trigger warnings promise — protection — does not exist. The world is simply too chaotic, too out-of-control for every trigger to be anticipated, avoided, and defused.”

    While this is true, we do place a lot of other kinds of (much less important) warnings on a number of things. And these warnings are placed in full knowledge that we can’t warn about everything. That does not mean we should not try, especially in a case as important as (and as overlooked as) triggering.

  14. Shinobi
    April 14, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Ugh I should have heeded the insufferable dingbat warning, my brain hurts from trying to follow her unlogic.

  15. Amelia the Lurker
    April 14, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Uhg, I just don’t understand what is wrong with this Breslin character to make her feel compelled to deride something as self-explanatory as trigger warnings. When I first started reading feminist blogs, I was confused for about FIVE MINUTES by trigger warnings before figuring out on my OWN what they were because I am not Susannah Breslin. I think we should all be thankful we are not Susannah Breslin. What stuns me is that she makes it into this playground-level taunt about feminism, as if the concept of triggering things and trauma didn’t apply to many other domains.

  16. Athenia
    April 14, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    This lady is really desparate for page views, isn’t she?

  17. Dawn.
    April 14, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Susannah Breslin is so intellectually dishonest it’s mind-boggling. She uses trigger warnings and her callous, ignorant attack on sexual assault survivors as a canard serviced to hide her real agenda – perpetuating the same tired stereotypes about feminism and dressing them up in 21st century garb by attacking “feminist blogs.” She’s really attacking the feminist movement, in the same way many others have done.

    The most upsetting thing about this is that she keeps being given a platform to spout her bullshit. Shame on every single venue that has featured her sad excuse for journalism.

  18. Li
    April 14, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    I really like the part where she suggests that her previous post “triggered” feminists into being offended, cos I personally know that when I am offended it is exactly the same as when I am triggered and go into major motor function failure.

  19. evil fizz
    April 14, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    I am still trying to wrap my head around the “A trigger warning is really just there to enhance shock value,” argument. By which I mean, this level of critical thinking failure warrants your expulsion from professional writing.

  20. preying mantis
    April 14, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    “The world is simply too chaotic, too out-of-control for every trigger to be anticipated, avoided, and defused.”

    So clearly, we shouldn’t even bother with labeling the stuff that’s 100% blatantly and no-questions-asked trigger material. Clearly.

    I swear, I’m having more and more trouble getting that South Park underpants-gnome episode out of my head lately. I just keep running into situations where we’ve got Step 1 (“We can’t label everything”) and Step 3 (“We shouldn’t label anything”), but Step 2 is still just ???. At least trigger warnings are somewhat less fatal than blowing up police funerals and armageddon.

  21. lupinella
    April 14, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    I personally want to offer my thanks for trigger warnings. As a person who grew up in a sexually violent family, I have been in therapy for years. I now have survival skills in place:

    1) I don’t watch television shows or films that are possible triggers unless they have been screened by my partner or a trusted friend.

    2) As an actor I always question friends about their shows to figure out if it’s possible for me to sit through.

    3) Make certain that blogs I visit have trigger warnings in place if they skew towards stories that might cause me to panic.

    So, no; just no. Trigger warnings are not there to enhance shock value for me; they are there to help me make wise decisions.

  22. April 14, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    “the kind of person who’d take [my] Vietnam-veteran granddad to see The Deer Hunter without warning him that it’s not actually about hunting deer”!

    I don’t want to give her the page views she so desperately wants, but did she seriously say this? Because by the time you get old enough, if you have a Vietnam veteran for a grandfather, to take him to the movies, the cat will have been out of the bag on the plot of The Deer Hunter, what with it having been released in 1978 and all.

  23. April 15, 2010 at 2:21 am

    Susannah Breslin’s name in a byline should serve the same as a trigger warning for all of us in the future!

    Is she the new Camille Paglia?

  24. piny
    April 15, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Snottiness is fair warning, now? I suppose that makes sense. Either she’s noticed the number of people running in the opposite direction, or she’s got her panties in a wad about trigger warnings because she’s confused them with gratuitous assholery.

    Either way, glad we can straighten her out.

    Aside from everything else, you know what else trigger warnings do? They make it easier for actual survivors of sexual violence to participate in discussions of sexual violence. How is that not worthwhile to feminism?

    This lady is really desparate for page views, isn’t she?

    Well, gee, Athenia, what do you think feminism is for?

  25. piny
    April 15, 2010 at 6:27 am

    Is she the new Camille Paglia?

    No, she’s like if Camille Paglia had her own third-base legacy to promote even out of proportion to her skewed values set.

  26. norbizness
    April 15, 2010 at 8:31 am

    If she were Camille Paglia, the response would have been 33.4 times as long and contained at least 498 references to old books she had written.

  27. Anon
    April 15, 2010 at 8:39 am

    I just wanted to crawl out of the woodwork and say that I have been frustrated to the point of tears at not being able to express what I want to say to this horrible Breslin woman. If I sent her an email or a comment, it would most likely not get read. I want to sit her down, face to face, and tell her how trigger warnings have personally been useful and helpful to me. Every day. It actually struck fear into my heart that a woman could even HAVE the opinion that trigger warnings are “ridiculous” or “useless” or whatever. It was like “Holy shit, are my Internet Safe Spaces going to disappear?!” Really, please do NOT stop using trigger warnings. I need them. I like them. I want them. They are useful and they are good. Sometimes I don’t want to read an article about RAPE. Because I was RAPED. That doesn’t make me a fucking CRY BABY. That means that I am among people who are treating the subject with respect and care, and when I am THERE, in THAT SPACE, I don’t have to worry. FOR ONCE. I can relax and CHOOSE whether or not I have to deal with this. Whereas, in PUBLIC, in “real life”, I do NOT get that choice. If someone makes a rape joke or talks about rape in the news, I don’t get to choose whether or not I want to hear it. When I’m navigating my favorite internet safe spaces where this material is discussed, but discussed with respect and care, I can feel confident that it’s up to ME. That’s powerful, and THAT is real.

  28. Defiantcreatrix
    April 15, 2010 at 9:44 am

    @ zuzu:
    She did say that, but it was part of a block-quote from her personal blog where she quoted the worst slurs from the comments section of her original article, if you can follow that. I’d quote it here, but it would get like those dogs holding cans on the label of that can of dog food in the movie.

    And the article got even more incoherent from there! It read like a five-paragraph essay from the seventh grade, where all that mattered was supporting the original point (Trigger Warnings are Stupid and People who Disagree with Me are Mean and Unreasonable, also Feminism is a Zombie Ideology with No Real Relevance) and the three supporting paragraphs had no connection. ( 1)Trigger warnings just increase people’s attention to a lurid post; 2) People who disagree with me call me bad names even though I’ve been traumatized; 3) The world is full of bad things so it doesn’t matter what warning you put on a blog post, people are going to be triggered anyway) I’ve never read anything by this writer before today, had never even heard of her, but I’m uncomfortable thinking that someone with such poor logical and rhetorical skills has a widely-read platform.

  29. Angiportus
    April 15, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Trigger warnings are just good manners. Examples would be not just for sexual and other violence but anything gruesome or unappetizing (Not Safe For Lunch), which includes images of the results of one’s medical procedures. Now there’s some things that upset me a lot more than they do others and I can’t expect bloggers and so on to anticipate those, but some things are just a no-brainer.
    There are some news outlets that try to call attention to unjust situations with images of the resulting carnage. They mean well, but I can’t help feeling they are upsetting the wrong people. I didn’t cause whatever it was and don’t need it waved in my face. But someone else just might learn something. Aside from that, this woman you describe sounds indeed clueless.

  30. DAS
    April 15, 2010 at 11:20 am

    The argument is that “‘trigger warnings’ are problematic”? Sometimes I think that the key underlying ideology of today’s political right is that any sort of politeness is just wrong (“oh noes, it’s too PC!”). It’s as if today’s political right is answering the query to their hero Joe McCarthy of “have you no decency?” with “yes, not only do we have no decency, we think that decency itself is a sign of decadence and moral decay”

  31. Sarah
    April 15, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Even television news programs will say something like, “We’d like to warn you that the following segment contains graphic images, and may disturb some viewers.”

    OMG, cable and network news are TOTALLY just treating us like we’re DUM-DUMB BABIES!!! OMG!!!


    But, really, what can you expect? It seems that consideration for other people is becoming passe in general.

  32. Rose
    April 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

    The label of “trigger warning”, whilst clumsy, is a form of blog etiquette. As pointed out already, it’s not that far removed from the acronym NSFW or a lead into a link suggesting that those readers who don’t like the sight of blood shouldn’t look at the new baby’s caesarean pictures.

    I think a valid criticism of the trigger warning label, would be that it’s not very eloquent; although it still does the job. Personally, I think SPOILER ALERT when I see TRIGGER WARNING, and I think that association detracts from the purpose of the label. But that’s a personal opinion. I still label posts that I think others may wish to avoid, the reason why, and hide discussion text so that people have to choose to read it.

  33. April 15, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    She makes her dime off of sexy time, feminists critique some of the social implications of said sexy time, and I imagine Susanna Breslin imagines herself to be part of the elusive “pop culture” we like to critique. The only thing Susanna Breslin is touching on here is Susanna Breslin’s own hubris.

    And actually, the comparison to Paglia isn’t bad. Paglia : conservatism :: Breslin : men who heart Maxim. Both are writers whose heyday was long ago, who rarely make sense, are dying to appeal to an unappealing audience, and revel in being as controversial as possible as long as it’s shallow and unserious.

  34. PrettyAmiable
    April 15, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    I gotta tell you, I know lots of guys who heart Maxim. I’ve never, ever seen them fall for anyone who has to try as hard as Susannah Breslin to fit in. It’s one thing if you’re a rando spouting off how feminism is dead, right? …But she parses it together into posts just so she can say, “LOOK! I’m edgy and on your side! I’m not like other girls! Love me!”

  35. kiki
    April 15, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    You know, she kind of has a point about trigger warnings being rather useless. All the posts that I can think of that have Trigger Warning in the title also have the reason as well. Words like Rape, Sexual Assault, Human Trafficking, etc. These words ARE trigger warnings. At best Trigger Warning is just redundant. At worst its almost like leading the reader. ‘This WILL upset you’ and ‘Be ready to be outraged’ and so forth.

  36. piny
    April 15, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    You don’t see any difference between, “This movie may contain violent imagery,” and ninety minutes of infantrymen being trepanned by machine-gun fire? Because I would react to each differently, and I think most people would.

  37. chipchop
    April 15, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    kiki, multiple people on this page have said that trigger warnings are useful to them. I’m glad you’ve come in here to tell them, “No, actually, the experiences that you’ve just described have not happened, and trigger warnings are in fact rather useless,” but, uh, no.

  38. kiki
    April 16, 2010 at 10:48 am

    piny, “This movie may contain violent imagery,” is necessary because movie titles are not really useful in describing movie content. For example ‘Saving Private Ryan’. If the title was ‘Pain and Death in World War 2’ no warning would really be needed as everything you need to know is there. But thats not the way movie titles work. But on blogs such as Feministe the post titles are very descriptive and have all the triggering words in them.

    chipchop, if the title has the triggering words in it (rape, abuse, child molestation, etc) shouldn’t that be a warning to individuals who are sensitive to such things? How are those words NOT a trigger warning? Oh, and please don’t accuse me of saying things I did not say. I never said, “No, actually, the experiences that you’ve just described have not happened…” Lying about what I have said sort of taints your self righteousness.

    • April 16, 2010 at 11:03 am

      But on blogs such as Feministe the post titles are very descriptive and have all the triggering words in them.

      That is actually not always true.

      • April 16, 2010 at 11:25 am

        To elaborate more on the “post titles are descriptive and have all the triggering words in them,” here are a few Feministe post titles with trigger warnings in the post itself:

        Child marriage: sex and money, Juliet and Fawziya Ammodi
        Bits and Pieces
        Your definition of “anti-sex” is not like mine.
        Predator Theory
        Highlighting the Fistula Foundation
        Chris Surette: Worst Person in the World?
        Getting Over It
        Polanski Defend-a-Thon, Part 2
        Puzzle Activity Time!
        lovers in a dangerous time
        Untouchable: Dalit women in India
        Justice for the Women of Atenco

        So no, it is not always obvious from the title of a post that the content will be potentially triggering. Next argument, please.

  39. PrettyAmiable
    April 16, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Actually, kiki, when you have testimony from people who say they use trigger warnings and find them useful, then you come in and say trigger warnings are irrelevant, you are invalidating what everyone before you has said. You may not have explicitly said it as chipchop stated it, but your words were fraternal twins of that statement. So chipchop? Keep on self-righteous-ing! You are self, hear you roar, and all that. I’m team you, as someone who has used trigger warnings on this site and others.

  40. kiki
    April 16, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Jill, I suppose you’re right. I’m sure that probably does happen sometimes. But I don’t think it should. If a post is about rape that should be indicated in the title. If a post is about murder, that should be indicated in the title. Whats the point of having Trigger Warning if people aren’t told what trigger it is warning about? It creates a system where people can get riled up thinking about their personal trauma, (which I would not want to do unless it was necessary) then they discover oh its not my trigger. That seems kind of cruel to me. I think the title should indicate what the trigger is. And if the trigger is stated than Trigger Warning just isn’t necessary. My two cents.

    • April 16, 2010 at 12:07 pm

      Kiki, that’s unrealistic to expect that every post be titled with the potentially trigger thing, especially since sometimes the triggering thing isn’t the topic of the post — it’s a tangential part, in which case we put the trigger warning in front of that part. A lot of Feministe posts are long and cover a variety of topics and angles, so no, we are not always going to include the words “murder” or “rape” in a post title when those things come up.

      I mean seriously, I don’t get why you’re so hung up on this. So we use two little words, that the vast majority of people commenting have said are helpful. Why is it so onerus for you to just skip those words?

  41. kiki
    April 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    “I mean seriously, I don’t get why you’re so hung up on this.”

    This is a post about trigger warnings. People are sharing their opinions. I have shared mine. I was questioned. I answered. This makes me as “hung up” as every one else speaking here.

  42. Sheelzebub
    April 16, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Kiki, a lot of bloggers do put down a brief explanation about what the TW is for. “TW–includes graphic testimony about a rape,” etc. And when I had my blog up, I didn’t necessarily put ‘rape’ in a post about rape, especially if it was, say, about an ongoing case that I was following. Sometimes I was sarcastic or snarky. Not to mention what Jill said–sometimes, it’s a small part of a post that’s about a larger subject.

    And you know, I didn’t put up a trigger warning in my posts about rape (I did note in the first post about one case that the description was rage-inducing) but it was before TW’s were really used–and I wouldn’t have taken offense if someone asked me to provide a warning beforehand. In fact, when people did that in the comments of other posts I wrote, it was no skin off my nose to just, you know, add in a warning about the content. Because here’s the thing: I didn’t want to muck up, hurt, or alienate the people who cared enough to read my blog. And since a warning was a little thing to add, and those who didn’t like them/found them useless could skip right over them no harm no foul, it was no problem for me to add in the warning.

    You know what I didn’t do? I didn’t post a screed about how they should have guessed that the subject matter would have been trauma-inducing from the post title, I didn’t yelp on and on about PC strawfeminists like Breslin did, I basically didn’t freak out over something so small.

    “‘This WILL upset you’ and ‘Be ready to be outraged’ and so forth.”

    Except that being triggered isn’t the same thing as being ‘upset.’ Jesus. Look, I realize that some people think TW’s are just a waste of time and oh-so-horribly PC, but many people here and elsewhere–people who have survived sexual assault, abuse, and other traumas–say they find it useful and appreciate the effort from bloggers who use it. Your posts have completely ignored and erased the what these people have said–people who have survived trauma and who are coping with PTSD and/or other fallout from that.

  43. The Truffle
    April 16, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Oh, Susannah. You doofus. You know that without the feminists, you’d have nothing to whine about.

    Folks? I think Susannah’s just bashing feminism because she thinks it’ll make her more attractive to men.

  44. kiki
    April 17, 2010 at 1:04 am

    “Folks? I think Susannah’s just bashing feminism because she thinks it’ll make her more attractive to men.”

    Yeah, that’s not catty at all.

    • April 17, 2010 at 9:20 am

      “Folks? I think Susannah’s just bashing feminism because she thinks it’ll make her more attractive to men.”

      Yeah, that’s not catty at all.

      …and calling women “catty” isn’t sexist at all.

  45. Tori
    April 17, 2010 at 11:45 am

    You know, she kind of has a point about trigger warnings being rather useless.

    kiki — You know, you kind of have no idea about how I experience PTSD and/or dissociation or how I process trigger warnings. While I can appreciate that trigger warnings may be not be useful for you, you =/= everyone else.

  46. kiki
    April 18, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Jill, catty is not a sexist word. Catty is a word that describes a certain kind of mean spirited and spiteful behavior. That women are more likely than men to engage in catty behavior does not make it a sexist word.

    • April 18, 2010 at 11:33 am

      Actually, kiki, t’s a word that is used almost exclusively to describe female behavior — and when it is (rarely) used towards men, the implication is that they are acting like girls. And no, women are not more likely than men to engage in “catty” behavior. They’re just more likely to have their behavior called catty.

  47. Li
    April 18, 2010 at 11:38 am

    OH, THE LACK OF SELF REFLECTION, IT BURNS. Kiki, it’s totally sexist. I would also challenge you to locate a heterosexual man who has actually been called catty any time recently, regardless of his behaviour, cos in my experience, not so much.

  48. kiki
    April 18, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Women aren’t more likey to act catty? Really? Hmm, maybe I just grew up around particularly vicious, vindictive, sadistic women. The lies, secrets, petty power plays, exclusionary tactics, rumor making, subtle insults, silent treatment. It’s true I never saw the guys engage in catty behavior like I witnessed and experienced. The guys would call the person they were mad at an asshole and be done with it. Maybe they would throw a punch but they would be done with it. Honestly I would rather follow the male rules and take a fist in the face than suffer through that catty BS for months. So no, it isn’t a sexist term. It’s based on a little thing called reality. I should know as I lived through that shit. Or if my life experiences are some bizarre anomaly maybe you should read a little about how female relationships run. Or bullying, ooh the bullying screams catty. But being the self aware feminist woman you are I’m sure you must already know these things. Right?

  49. Sheelzebub
    April 18, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Wow, Jill, can I recommend Kiki for the next Top Troll competition? Perhaps we can have one for the Ultimate Derailers.

  50. Jadey
    April 18, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Because behaviour isn’t influenced by pervasive social stereotypes? Expectations don’t shape perceptions and real actions?

    I mean, it’s true that it’s generally more socially permissable for women to engage in passive aggression instead of overt aggression – behaviours learned through modelling and reinforcement. It’s not something innately female. And taking that behaviour, marginalizing it as “catty”, and reinforcing the same gender paradigm? Kinda part of the problem.

  51. kiki
    April 18, 2010 at 10:26 pm


    Oops, I forgot to add cruel, callous and apathetic.


    Absolutely. Women are taught to channel their anger through passive aggressive means. And the word that describes that kind of behavior is catty.

  52. Sheelzebub
    April 19, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Oops, I forgot to add cruel, callous and apathetic.

    That’s pretty rich, coming from someone who dismissed the experiences of trauma survivors.

    Again, Jill–we have a contender here for FNNT.

Comments are closed.