By Cole Potter
Trigger Warning: The author of this article may come off as unfeeling or dismissive. If this sort of behavior is offensive or provocative to you, remember you have the ability to look away at any time.
Depression, anxiety, substance abuse, rape: all are heavy issues with profound and somber connotations. In an inappropriate context these subjects could certainly be offensive to some individuals. Perhaps giving a “warning” before these topics are discussed could aid in lessening some of the emotional stress one may experience from reading said discussions, but to require writers to include disclaimers regarding “triggers” in their work is at the least disrespectful to the creator, and at the worst, a form of censorship.
To quote from geekfeminism.wikia.com, “Trigger warnings are customary in some feminist and other spaces. They are designed to prevent people who have an extremely strong and damaging emotional response to certain subjects from encountering them unaware.” I recognize the prevalence of bigotry and abuse towards women in our society, and I am not arguing against the sentiment behind these notifications, but rather the claim made by some that they should be implemented in all forms of media. No creator should feel obliged to include a warning on their art if they feel it detracts from the value of their piece. Trigger warnings are merely fragments of writing attached to a larger body of work, and thus their inclusion should be left up to the writer. Depriving the writer of this choice for their own body of work is just as offensive as any debated material that may be discussed.
If creators have unwanted “warnings” forced upon their art, they will be less likely to make works which depict contentious issues for the fear of alienating an audience which may be intimidated by the antagonistic advisory. Whether proponents of “trigger warnings” are aware of it or not, they are effectively censoring writers by demanding that these notifications be placed upon any article that includes material which they find personally insulting. Furthermore, requiring trigger warnings discourages discussion of incredibly important issues. If every article that mentions rape and sexual abuse is also required to contain a trigger warning, readers may be deterred by the ominous disclaimers and choose not to read the writing. However, many of these readers may have found that the included material was not offensive to them as an individual. By including the warning, the writer only scares readers away from their material and deprives these issues of the awareness and debate that they deserve.