Warning: This Column Will Offend You – by M. Moynihan (Re: Trigger Warnings in Written Material, Terms such as slut shaming, man-splain, etc)

Warning: This Column Will Offend You by M. Moynihan (Re: Trigger Warnings Before Written Material, Terms such as “slut shaming,” “man-splain,” etc)

(Link): Warning: This Column Will Offend You by M. Moynihan

    Should students be warned that reading The Great Gatsby might “trigger” a past trauma? The campus censors think so. But they are only protecting your feelings.

    It’s with a twinge of nostalgia that I recall all those incredulous faces. Sometime in the 1990s, I suggested to a group of college friends that it wasn’t exactly right to brand Ian Fleming a hopeless sexist (his deeply held dislike of America, all agreed, was a more agreeable phobia).

    This note of dissidence was interrupted by the sound of jaws shattering as they hit the floor, a crescendo of denunciations, and a few dramatic walkouts.

    One of those who remained said, with a jabbing finger, that mine was the argument of someone “unaware of his gender privilege.”

    It was almost inevitable, regardless of one’s personal politics, to find oneself — with bowed head, like an undergraduate Rubashov—accused of trespassing some previously unknown frontier of offense.

    I would soon learn never to object to the charge of privilege: it’s a phantom, something one possesses and abuses without knowing it. And like denying your alcoholism, a denial doubles as an acknowledgement that you’re afflicted with the disease.

    Floating in the fog of privilege, all sorts of voguish developments in language control bypassed me.

    But through the daily horror of Twitter, where these concepts are released into the non-academic world, I’ve been exposed to all the latest phrases doubling as argument, like the various prefixes affixed to “shaming” and “‘splaining” (the latter so rendered, I assumed, in homage to Desi Arnaz, before realizing this was a vulgar indulgence of Cuban stereotypes).

    Shaming” and “‘splaining” are fluidly defined verbs, though it seems an admonition to people with my biography (boring white guys) that they engage in conversation about race or gender in particular ways, with particular conclusions—and only when speaking to particular people.

    Thus, there is the scourge of “slut shaming,” which one can be accused of, for instance, when questioning whether the so-called Duke porn star is indeed “liberated” when shooting videos for defaceherface.com.

    And there’s the promiscuous use of “mansplaining,” defined by a fusty man at The New York Times as a condescending chappie “compelled to explain or give an opinion about everything — especially to a woman.”

    This midwived the now ubiquitous “whitesplaining,” best demonstrated (Link): in this Atlantic.com polemic upbraiding a member of the indie band The Black Lips for having opinions about—whitesplaining — hip-hop music. Not in a racist way, mind you. It’s just none of his cultural business.

    These faddish portmanteaus suffer from overuse, but one can at least see the point: They are polemical words, more pointed and ideological than what we used to call know-it-all-ism and sexist condescension.

    Being so behind the times, I only just discovered the neutron bomb of censoriousness masquerading as concern: the “trigger warning.”

    This is, roughly, a label that would accompany an article, film, song, book, or piece of art warning potential viewers that the content might make them upset or uncomfortable (often the point of art) and thus trigger memories of a traumatic event.

    The examples of this latest explosion of hypersensitivity are too numerous to recount, but a few should suffice.

    …. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, the student senate, which appears to be staffed by the only people in the solar system dumber than actual senators, passed a resolution to “begin the process of instituting mandatory ‘trigger warnings’ on class syllabi,” flagging books that could make students feel uncomfortable.

    One student arguing in favor of the measure commented, with all the grace and wit of Soviet bureaucrat, “I’ve been in this kind of situation before — it sucks; we should pass it.”

    The poison is spreading, with even less intelligent students across the country demanding their schools take action.

    At Rutgers, an opinion piece in the student newspaper demanded that “trigger warnings” be affixed to various great works of literature, fearing the tender souls sleeping through English classes might confront difficult social issues:

    [snip examples of students demanding that trigger warnings be placed on literature such as “The Great Gatsby” etc]

    I have often argued with conservative friends that the final ledger on political correctness wasn’t all negative. The casual racism once found in polite company, while certainly not eradicated, is almost unthinkable today.

    But my unilateral declaration of an end to the kulturkampf was depressingly naive.

    Because language cops are like pornographers: The stuff that was once seen as extreme has become quotidian, demanding that it be replaced with something even more extreme and confusing.

    All of this is the unsurprising result of teaching soft-headed but well-intentioned college students that if we can control language, we can control behavior.

    But these handy phrases-as-argument both skirt and ultimately suffocate real debate, often demanding feelings be valued above reality (This recent Huffington Post headline says it all: “Anti-Vaccine Mom Feels Bullied”).

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Related posts:

(Link): Celibate Shaming from an Anti- Slut Shaming Secular Feminist Site (Hypocrisy) Feminists Do Not Support All Choices

(Link): Confusing Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse with Consensual Sex and Then Condemning Sexual Purity Teachings – and other, related topics

(Link): Sometimes Shame Guilt and Hurt Feelings Over Sexual Sins Is a Good Thing – but – Emergents, Liberals Who Are Into Virgin and Celibate Shaming

(Link): Liberty Counsel Fears Prom, Losing Freedom To Be Abstinent Before Marriage – their marketing has been jeered by ex Christians, atheists, liberal Christians, and secular left wingers / Re: Day of Purity Campaign