In essence, the aim of If We Can’t Dance is to create a supportive and open environment where people can learn about and discuss anarchist theory from feminist and queer perspectives. Trigger warnings are a tool at our disposal that can assist us in our attempts to create such an environment.
What is a trigger?
A trigger is something that evokes a strong negative response. A trigger may cause an intense reaction such as a panic attack, flashback, or other symptoms associated with PTSD. It may invoke aspects of a person’s mental illness or it may cause great anguish to the person.
Some common triggers include: rape, sexual assault, abuse, suicide, eating disorders, slurs, shaming, alcohol and drug use, and racism.
What are trigger warnings?
A trigger warning (sometimes abbreviated to TW) is a short note before a blog post, picture, video, statement, or other content that warns readers/viewers/listeners about an aspect of the content (such as a graphic depiction or description) that may trigger them.
At the very least, it allows for people to assess their current mental state before continuing to engage with content that may negatively alter their well being.
Why do we use trigger warnings?
We value the mental health of others, and understand that sometimes these warnings are needed to continue to overcome, heal, and avoid content that would undo these first two things.
Trigger warnings are a tool that can be used in a group forum to create a safer and more inclusive space for everyone who participates in the discussions that take place there.
How do we use trigger warnings?
On online forums and in other forms of media (print, film, music, and so on), trigger warnings can be included at the beginning of the post/article/movie/etc
When you do warn about triggers, please be respectful, make sure you cover as many as you can think of, be clear, add extra emphasis if needed, and only warn about things that are triggers.”Douchebaggery”, “idiots”, “assholes”, “angry” are not triggers. To trigger warn about this undermines the system because it puts ‘being annoyed’ or ‘being mildly angry’ alongside ‘being greatly distressed or triggered’.
Sometimes, someone will forget to put up a trigger warning or may not realize that the content is triggering. If this happens, please let them or a moderator/facilitator know so that they can put on a warning immediately.
When we meet in real life it can be very difficult to negotiate triggers. While there are no fail-safe rules, there are some things we can do: cultivate an awareness and respect for others, be self-reflexive, think before we speak, and learn about potential triggers. Ideally event details should include relevant trigger warnings so that we can choose in advance whether we wish to be present.
Where can I find more resources on triggers and trigger warnings?
Here are some helpful links where you can learn more about creating your own trigger warnings, why they are important, and what content warrants them:
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– Adapted from the document All About Trigger Warnings used by The Feminist Network (2013) –