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.
- You know you’re kind of a jerk when you write a blog post basically mocking rape survivors. by Jill April 13, 2010
- “Advocate” Turns Abuser by Cara July 10, 2008
- I don’t support stringing criminals up by their balls and publicly berating them… by Jill March 4, 2008
- When Good People Do Nothing by Cara May 9, 2008
- Anti-Feminist Vandalism by Cara February 6, 2009