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Whatever You Do, Don’t Read This Blog Post

Posted on April 17 2010 3:28 am
Jenn escaped blue state academia for redder pastures in the South. Follow her on Twitter and read more of her work at
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Please be aware that this blog post may unintentionally trigger upsetting thoughts or uncomfortable responses related to traumatic incidents you have experienced, witnessed, heard about, or imagined.  All human beings have the right to live in perpetual emotional comfort, blissfully free of unanticipated sadness, heartache, grief, panic, stress, and other forms of emotional anguish or anxiety. If you are unprepared to leave your emotional bubble, please click away before reading further.

Are you still with me? Good. I figured NewsReal readers would stick around.

According to many writers in the “progressivefeminist blogosphere, “trigger warnings” like the one above are the only thing standing between their readers and potential panic attacks, mental breakdowns, or suicide attempts. These alerts are placed at the top of blog posts containing content that might cause emotional distress to victims of sexual assault, stalking, mental illness, harassment, racism, or virtually any other type of painful experience.

Apparently without trigger warnings, legions of feminists might find themselves rocking back and forth, sucking their thumbs, and eating their own hair (which gives me a great idea, but I digress.)

Writer Susannah Breslin’s recent dissection of the trigger warning phenomenon launched a thousand hissy fits in the feminist blogosphere. Breslin described trigger warnings like this:

After some in-depth research (like, half an hour, maybe?), I was able to conclude that, for whatever reason, the feminists are all over their TRIGGER WARNINGS, applying them like a Southern cook applies Pam cooking spray to an overused nonstick frying pan. It’s almost impressive, really. I guess the idea is that blog posts are TOTALLY SCARY, and if you are EASILY UPSET, if you see a TRIGGER WARNING coming, you can look away REALLY FAST, or click elsewhere, so you won’t, you know, FREAK THE F*** OUT.

Predictably, commenters at True/Slant and the usual suspects at Feministe, Feministing, and Jezebel whipped themselves into a foul-mouthed frenzy, calling Breslin everything from “Sister F***er” to the old feminist stand-by, the four-letter c word.  Let’s hear it for grrl power! Breslin’s response nailed her detractors to the wall:

[T]rigger 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.

Frankly, I don’t really care if “feminist” blogs want to cater to hypersensitive readers with dramatic, all-caps displays of political correctness. It’s ridiculous and infantilizes readers, but they can run their online communities however they like.

What needles me is the pretense that they’re doing something exceedingly generous, thoughtful, and respectful of victims when really this is just another element of Feminism: The Role-Playing Game.  It’s an imaginary world where players can run off to level up before facing the big, bad monster on the next screen.

But survivors of rape and abuse don’t have the luxury of permanently occupying a fantasy world in which they play The Victim; they need to function in the real world, the one without pause buttons, quick saves, and trigger warnings. “Feminists” aren’t doing them any favors.


Follow Jenn Q. Public on Twitter and read more of her work at

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