Reflections on linkspamming linkspam (14 March 2014)

  • Female Armor BINGO | Bikini Armor Battle Damage (March 2, 2014): “Feel free to use as a reference to quantify how ridiculous any female armor is. For the record: the game refers to the context of wearing skimpy “armors” for battle (any other context, like cosplay, is excluded)”
  • Female Armor Rhetoric BINGO | Bikini Armor Battle Damage (March 8, 2014): “This card refers to the defenses/apologia that’s used against the critique of skimpy female warrior outfits. I did my best to collect the most pervasive arguments used to justify bikini armors and similar costumes.”
  • Trigger Warnings Trigger Me | Laurie Essig on The Chronicle of Higher Education (March 10, 2014): I’m not sure about the arguments of this article. What do you think? “Trigger warnings began on feminist blogs as a way of warning readers that the content contained material about domestic violence or rape or even disordered eating. According to a young feminist blogger acquaintance of mine, it made sense to give trigger warnings since reading a blog should not cause any damage. But then trigger warnings spread. And spread. A virus of warnings infected blogs, public art, and now classrooms.”
  • Great Reads: Comics with Strong Female Characters. | Sarah Hunter on Booklist Online (Feb 26, 2014): “With the rise of underground comics and the dogged determination of women creating comics, there’s a healthy (and growing!) number of comics and graphic novels that do a great job of depicting strong, well-rounded women and girls. These eight titles in particular—including realistic stories, fantasies, adventures, and one truly great superhero comic—feature heroines perfectly capable of rescuing themselves.”
  • Breaking the Unicorn Law: Stop asking women in open tech/culture about women in open tech/culture | Valerie Aurora on The Ada Initiative (March 10, 2014): “Part of making open tech/culture more welcoming to women is not putting the responsibility for fighting sexism on every woman in these fields, whether or not she has the energy or interest to do so. Giving women an extra job in addition to their work in open tech/culture won’t make it a better environment for them. […] We think the solution to the Unicorn Law isn’t asking people to stop working to end sexism in open tech/culture. Instead we should stop asking all women to be feminist activists. Here are some ways to do that.”
  • Why Don’t Women Care About Esports? | Yannick LeJacq on Motherboard (Feb 19, 2014): The title is a little misleading – the article points out that there are plenty of women, they just do not tend to make it known that they are women. “Like gaming culture more generally, Weber said that esports still have a reputation as a “boys-only clubhouse.” The major difference between a team of top-tier League or StarCraft players and a standard group of Call of Duty bros, then, is that the former consists of a bunch of teenage boys who are treated like celebrities.” “In general, I think people—fans, players, industry workers—like to view esports as a meritocracy where everyone is on a level playing field and people are recognized purely for their in game ability,” Weber said. “The idea of women in some ways upsets that, but it’s sort of stupid because esports isn’t a meritocracy and there are tons of outside factors that contribute to someone’s status in the grand scheme of things.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

4 thoughts on “Reflections on linkspamming linkspam (14 March 2014)

  1. Suzanne

    Re: trigger warnings – I have to admit that I was peeved at Essig’s overall vocabulary in her piece. It’s one thing to say, “I think we might be overdoing it here and actually harming ourselves”, and it’s quite another to tell people to “pull up their big-girl panties”.

    However, I do I think some of her points had merit, and I’d suggest that trigger warnings best operate within the following constraints:

    1) TWs should be voluntary. It’s fair to request them from an author/speaker, but, particularly if the author is not directly addressing issues of social justice or self-care, it’s also important to realize they are not obligated to provide them. It stinks when they refuse to, but they have the right to do so–especially if it’s a matter of their own blog. (In the case of an institution, the institution gets to set its own policy and enforce it among its members.)
    2) TWs can’t cover every eventuality–but they should cover the big, endemic issues. For instance, people can literally be allergic to any food–however, the majority of people with food allergies are allergic to nuts, milk, or shellfish, so those are the things that get warning labels. Similarly, people can be emotionally triggered by literally anything, so there’s no way to absolutely prevent someone getting upset.* But there are still certain gigantic issues that trigger lots and lots of people. Those are not hard to identify, and easy to warn about.
    3) TWs don’t need to cover every mention of an issue, but they should cover graphic descriptions of an issue (e.g. mentioning that police responded to a domestic abuse call doesn’t need a TW, but publishing the 9-1-1 transcript probably does).

    TW or no TW, a responsible author/speaker should have enough sensitivity to recognize when they are approaching a difficult subject. It is just basic empathy to warn people when they will be facing disturbing content. It’s pretty calloused to kick off what you know (or should know) will be an emotional firestorm, and then get mad at everyone else for the aftermath. As a teacher myself, I can’t responsibly shield my students from ever dealing with unpleasant topics, but neither can I throw around upsetting images/descriptions like they’re no big deal.

    *It’s worth noting, too, that just like food allergies can produce anything from mild hives to hospitalization, emotional triggers can produce anything from a momentary emotional reaction to a severe and/or physically harmful thing. It’s pretty ignorant to act like everyone who claims to have a trigger just doesn’t like being aggravated, even if a few people call for TWs that way.

  2. kalital

    Personally, I have some problems with the whole concept of trigger warnings, and I don’t normally use them when I write. I’ve read some good arguments for them, including the one I find most compelling, which is pretty much the same reasoning I use to support separatism: oppressed groups need oppression-free spaces in which they can organize and find respite from the assaults regularly visited upon them in the outside world. I strongly support separate groups and safe spaces, and, in those safe spaces, I think trigger warnings are appropriate.

    On the other hand, for most of my writing (which takes place outside those safe spaces), I find
    them problematic. I’ve wrestled with this a lot, since trigger warnings are very common in feminist and antiracist circles these days, and I keep finding myself on the opposing side of the argument, both as a survivor and as a scholar/activist. When I read, I expect every feminist and antiracist article to contain descriptions of “triggering” behavior, beause we can’t fight oppression without talking about oppression. What we *can* avoid, though, is reinforcing that oppression. We can refuse to use description and language that perpetuates rape culture or white supremacy in our work. The onus is on us, as activists for liberation, as scholars, and as writers, to come up with a new kind of language that frames the kind of culture we’d like to live in.

    When feminists and antiracists and other activists write well, we dismantle rape culture, white supremacy, etc.,, rather than reinforcing the statusquo. In short, our traumatized and oppressed readers will read *with* us,rather than feeling abused by what we write. (This is an ideal, of course — much feminist and antiracist writing falls short and we should be critiqued for our lapses.) Now that they have come into such broad use, I often find trigger warnings used as a mask and an excuse for not writing carefully and well: the inclusion of [trigger warning] is too often taken as a license for writers to say whatever they want, in unreflective ways, as long as it’s enclosed in brackets. Trigger warnings push the blame, if descriptions are perceived as offensive, back on to the reader, who was “warned.” Instead, I believe the onus is on the writer, who is ultimately responsible for being reflective and sensitive, and whose work should liberate rather than oppress.

    As a survivor, I find it personally insulting to see a header on a feminist article that essentially says, “Enter at your own risk.” We all read and see things, every single day, “at our own risk” — members of oppressed groups can’t walk out on the sidewalk without being inundated by a landslide of shit that we have to psychically defend ourselves from. For avowed feminist and antiracist authors, I find these warnings are unnecessarily coy: oppression is the subject of our work. (The people who most need to use trigger warnings, of course, never do. That’s what makes their writing hurtful: they don’t care if they hurt us and they never will.)

    Also, I’m pretty sure that the author has no idea what my triggers are, and it seems paternalistic when an author warns me to cover my ears if I’ve had a certain set of experiences or get upset when certain topics are raised — the same kind of paternalism I find in movie and tv warnings that “some content may be unsuitable for….” For example, I can read graphic descriptions of rape all day and none will “trigger” my PTSD, but I go into paroxysms of flashbacks the minute someone covers my ears. The research shows that flashbacks are inconsistent and triggers are deeply personal, and I’m not sure that mandated trigger warnings aren’t a part of *creating* triggers,
    rather than avoiding them. My own researchsuggests that stories told by survivors, and survivors’ reactions, are heavily influenced by cultural expectations (which I’ll write about in a diary), and I think we risk reinforcing a normative version of reactions to disturbing material
    when we post trigger warnings.

    Though I did not like the snarky way Essig’s article was written, I do think she has a point about perpetuating the image that we survivors need other people to post signs warning us that this way danger lies. Whether they are intended this way or not, such signs serve to shift the blame for offense from the offender to the survivor (“You were warned!”), and to relieve the author of responsibility to present information and ideas in a fashion that supports our humanity, rather than putting fences around it.


    1. Lirael

      I know I’m a little late to reply here – I just discovered the GeekFeminism blog when a friend linked to it!

      I’m a survivor with PTSD, but of police brutality rather than sexual violence, which I guess could influence my take because in the circles that I usually run in (mostly white and Asian-American, mostly middle class, lots of sexual violence survivors) there are fewer narratives around police violence and how people are expected to react to that than there are around sexual violence. And less recognition of it as a trauma in general.

      I don’t find trigger warnings paternalistic – they’re just a heads up in case I do care, not a “cover your ears” or a “you can’t handle this material”. For me, at least, knowing that I’m about to be exposed to material that might trigger me makes a huge difference in whether and how much it does. Twice this year so far I’ve been watching documentaries at activist meetings that suddenly showed entirely unexpected scenes of police brutality – in one case, brutality that was very similar to what I actually experienced – in the city whose police brutality caused my PTSD, and both times it has caused me to run out of the room having a full-blown panic attack and slump over shaking in the hallway for several minutes before I could get back under control. This is even though I still medic regularly at protests, and the last one I was at with significant police brutality was only a couple of weeks ago, and I had no trouble handling it! And I thought the documentaries themselves were very valuable. A heads up would have made all the difference.

      Triggers are personal and idiosyncratic – I used to have a popular song as a trigger for instance. That should be recognized. In my anecdotal experience (with myself and others), from a probability standpoint, you’re more likely to cover more people by warning for stuff that is directly related to trauma.

      I really, really, really did not like Essig’s article, and there’s been a lot of articles around trigger warnings and the academy that fall into a similar vein for me – articles that seem to be saying that people who appreciate warnings are weak, fragile special snowflakes who expect never to be uncomfortable. I doubt most of the people writing those articles would be willing to do the work that led to my getting PTSD in the first place, and that I still do. For a more nuanced take that makes some of the same points that you do, I found the Filipovic piece in the Guardian mostly reasonable (though I was not thrilled that it opened with a joke about being triggered by trigger warnings – that joke is played out and unfunny).

      I am dubious about things like trigger warnings on course syllabi, and against removing potentially triggering materials from classrooms, but I just don’t think it’s that hard for a professor to say “Hey, the film that we’re about to study has graphic depictions of combat. If this is a problem for anyone I wanted to remind you of the number for the college crisis helpline, which is $foo. If you have a disability that would make studying this film a serious problem I encourage you to have the Disabilities Office contact me.” Or something like that; I’m sure there’s possible improvements to my wording.

  3. madgastronomer

    Essig clearly does not understand the actual point of trigger warnings, like most people who object to them. They are NOT so people can avoid anything potentially upsetting or offensive, they are so that people who have PTSD, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders and others can choose whether or not they are up to being exposed to something that could harm them right at that moment, and so they can prepare themselves for it if they decide they are. It’s like watching a horror movie: knowing that you’re going into a horror movie means you’re ready to be startled, scared, and made really tense, and if you know that you’re already a little too jumpy today to watch a horror movie, you can choose not to watch it today. Horror movies are marketed as horror movies so that people know what to expect when they walk into the theater or push play, so they don’t think they’re going to see a Disney cartoon instead.

    If being startled really bothered you, if the adrenalin response left you fucked up for the rest of the day, if horror movies gave you nightmares for weeks, but hell, sometimes there was something about a particular movie that made you want to watch it anyway, wouldn’t you want to be able to pick what day to watch it on? If somebody told you, “Hey, there’s this really awesome movie you should see, I know you like Vin Diesel, you really have to see it, it’s called Pitch Black, here I brought it over, let’s put it in right now,” wouldn’t you want to know that it was a horror movie before your friend put it on? It’s really that simple.

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