Last September I attended a national conference focused on sexual freedom and advocacy called CatalystCon. It's an amazing and unique experience to be completely surrounded by like-minded individuals. Huge names in the sex-education arena like Reid Mihalko, Amy Jo Goddard, and Tristan Taormino who have earned their place in the cannon of progressive sexuality education, gatekeepers for fledgling sex educators and writers like me. People who care as deeply for social justice, safe sex practices, and sexual empowerment as I do. And as much as I learned from and connected with the other people at the conference, I seemed to be at odds with the majority opinion that "trigger warnings" should be a part of not only our writing, but our speech.
I vented my frustration on social media with my usual tongue-in-cheek snark. And although my quip was shared hundreds of times over different social media networks, I received mostly backlash and disregard from inside the sex-positive educator community. That's when I knew I had to write about it. So I did.
The response was unreal. Other sex writers, whether they had met me personally or not, felt compelled to explain to me what a "trigger" was, and what "anxiety" was in turgid messages with undertones of "you don't know what the fuck you're talking about." Meanwhile, other readers thanked me for calling out what they saw as increasingly restrictive language policing, and the growing tendency to avoid painful, but necessary discussions about rape culture and abuse.
The tension became so frequent that any discussion about trigger warnings started to make my stomach turn and hands sweat with anxiety. I was quite literally having to counter-act anxiety triggered by conversations about trigger warnings.
So when Dylan Thomas of "Life on the Swingset.fm" asked me to talk more in depth about my feelings on trigger warnings on the Gentleperverts' Social Club Podcast, I was both anxious to clarify my message, and a complete nervous wreck at having to debate the issue with anyone with their heels dug in to the idea that not only should trigger warnings be expected, but that we should ostracize and discredit anyone who doesn't abide by those rules of communication. (It happened to me.)
Luckily, Crista Anne, the Rainbow-Colored Pleasure Revolutionary, was chosen as the counter-point for my unpopular opinion. Crista's badassery has been featured on Bustle.com, Bitch Magazine and Cosmopolitan just to name a few. With Dylan Thomas moderating our discussion, Crista Ann explained how trigger warnings help her manage the information and images she is exposed to so that she is better equipped to decide when and how she engages in those discussions. On the other hand, I sheathed my sharp tongue long enough to discuss the inherent privilege of trigger warnings, and the role of pain in creating empathy - the glue of humanity, and a foundational element of my moral compass.
Read the article: Trigger Warnings Are The Arm- Floaties of the Internet