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WickedWednesday: Trigger Warnings, a Post From the Heart

WickedWednesday again. Unusually, I found it easy to come up with my response this week. I was greatly influenced by Molly’s, which is well thought out.

I should start out by stating that I am generally against mandatory trigger warnings, whether it be on text books, or anything else. I feel quite strongly that there is a continuum, with “Oh, are we OK with this?” at one end, and book burning at the other (sometimes, as history shows us, by people burning/gassing/disappearing etc.).

Mandatory warnings are along that continuum.

But, despite the continuum, my stating that I am against mandatory trigger warnings is a little black and white. Allow me to explain.

I was bullied at school. Bullied to the point where there were days I was scared, really scared, to go.

People who know me currently find this difficult to believe, because today I am a confident person who is happy to lead if that is required. It took years in Sea Cadets as a teenager, followed by more in the Royal Air Force, to change me.

I went to high school in the 1970s. Anybody remember The Goodies? They were hugely popular in the UK at that time. They recorded a song, Funky Gibbon. The school bullies thought it a great wheeze to make the weak perform that for them. This was just one of the things they inflicted on those they perceived as being weak. All this at a time when there was no point reporting the bullies because the official response was “Just ignore them and they’ll stop and/or go away.”. They didn’t.

I’ve forgiven the bullies, but I don’t forget. I sometimes wonder whether they have kids, and how they would react if they were bullied. Would they have the tools to help their kids? I fear the worst. Do they ever think about the bullying they did? I don’t know. Fuck ’em.

Presumably as a result of my being bullied, I do not like books/movies/TV shows that feature it. A recent example is Silverdrop persuading me to watch the general greatness that is the TV series from a few years ago: Jekyll. This series is wonderful, and masterfully written by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who writer and producer). However, a couple of the episodes feature bullying and made me feel very uncomfortable. I mostly enjoyed watching it, but have no desire to watch again.

But, and it is a big but: I have no desire to put trigger warnings on the DVD case and I absolutely do no want them banned.

These days, I wouldn’t hesitate to step in if I witnessed bullying. How times have changed for me.

Like so many moral issues, the one of trigger warnings is not black and white – there are many shades of grey and opinions regarding them. Now you know mine.


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3 thoughts on “WickedWednesday: Trigger Warnings, a Post From the Heart

  1. Mia Sinclair

    I was bullied at school too, head down the used toilet and then the flush pulled, punched, kicked, name calling you name it my bully and her mates made my life a living hell.

    Yes it made me stronger in the long term and I don’t suffer fools at all.

    As for warnings on literature, the classics in my opinion is not necessary they have been around long enough for people to ascertain their content with relative ease.

    For newer writings I feel that if the author feels that they wish to put a warning on a piece I for one am one who will appreciate it, not just for the bullying but also for the other abuse that I have suffered, that has been detailed previously in my blog.

    ~Mia~ xx

  2. Marie Rebelle

    Indeed, there are many shades of grey. And yes, I know what bullying can do to a person. At this moment my son is starting therapy for being bullied for many years. It has totally changed his personality and he is severely depressed. I hope the psychotherapy he starts now will help. Knowing what it has done to him, I can understand your discomfort with seeing bullying scenes. But even with my son’s situation and yours I would not want trigger warnings on anything either. I much rather prefer my son to tackle it head on like he is doing now, and to work through his issues and become as confident about himself as you are.

    Rebel xox

  3. Molly

    I absolutely agree that it is not black and white, my issues with it truly come from the proposal for it to be used on academic text and my fear that this will only be extended to everything. I think history shows us that I am not unfounded in that worry.

    I believe that if your trauma is so great that it effects your everyday life making you unable to function then you need to get help and that help should be easy to obtain. I don’t think trigger warnings are going to be of any use.


    Ps… thank you for the mention and link

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