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28 June 2009 @ 06:15 pm
Fandom: Warning!Fail  
I've written and re-written this post a number of times, trying to remove the rage, hurt and anger emotions I've been experiencing since this debate started.

There have been people who have shocked and disgusted me by what they've said, from calling rape/abuse survivors "privileged" to outright insulting someone who bared her soul to explain that the issue regarding warnings is far different from being inconvenienced by clicking on a light-fluffy-bunny fic and encountering instead a bunny-fluffy-light fic. [Warning: Very explicit discussion of sexual assault and the nature, anatomy, cause & effect of triggers. Is itself triggery.]

So in response, I've attempted to pick out the most representative among the anti-warning/I warn only for X/warnings are fine, except when they're not comments, and answer them as unemotionally as possible . . .

  1. BDSM -- So here we come to it. There I've been talking about death and rape and child abuse and then all of a sudden...here's something that is an integral part of my sexuality being comapred with those three things. Somehow fandom has decided that a form of consensual sex needs to be warned for, like it was the same as death or rape or child abuse. I'm a sadist who likes hurting people who like being hurt. Asking me to warn for BDSM is telling me that I'm no better than a murderer or a rapist. Wow, that makes me feel welcome in fandom. That makes me feel like fandom is my safe space, where I can take my http://www.livejournal.com/support/faqbrowse.bml?faqid=26experience and write about what I know and not be judged for it.

    Except of course, where all of you who insist on being warned for BDSM are, in fact, judging me. You're saying that my form of sexuality, which does not involve rape, under-aged sex or death, is still so bad, so dangerous, so WRONG that it needs to be warned for.

    telesilla on 23 Jun 2009


    No one who is asking for a warning for BDSM (and other potential triggers) is equating it with either rape or murder. That would be like equating an author of the latter fic as an advocate (or practioner) of both activities. One does not equal the other.

    BDSM practioners, advocates and allies stress over and over three words: safe, sane, consensual. Partners [should] enter into BDSM fully armed and prepared for what may happen and what they may experience both physically and emotionally. That's one of the important reasons why safe words are chosen before play begins, and all parties have trust in their partners to respect that those limits will be adhered to.

    This parallels quite well with what readers who are asking for warnings desire: a bit of beforehand knowledge of where a plot might go to decide if they are prepared to confront their limits, reach their limits or stretch their limits. Some may. Some may not. But having the appropriate tools available helps both authors and readers -- the authors avoid getting lambasted by an irate reader, and the reader doesn't have to deal with something they'd prefer to avoid.


  2. Any thoughtful and conscientious reader will take the time to check and see whether she's in a comm where warnings are required or not required, rather than whining about the inconsequential amount of time and effort that it takes to do so. Or figuring out that you can ask your friends or check del.icio.us tags in order to find out more about the story.

    But enough people *do* use it to make it an incredibly useful resource for the people who want more information about stories before they go in and read.

    liviapenn on 22 Jun 2009


    That's assuming a lot. Many of the larger fandoms may use del.icio.us, but small, tiny and comatose fandoms don't have either the fannish numbers or the story numbers to necessitate using an additional service to winnow out the wheat from the chaff. Fandom at large doesn't solely revolve around LiveJournal, Dreamwidth and InsaneJournal. A lot of potential triggery fic is often intentionally mislabelled on FanFiction.net to circumvent the site's rules about the posting of explicit content.

    Additionally, as others have stated, not everyone has a fannish friend to go to in order to ask if Unknown Story might be a potential minefield. You're assuming that everyone reading fan fic is an active fannish participant, and that they read solely in large/popular fandoms. Lurkers, those in small/inactive fandoms and those remaining on the fringes would probably feel very uncomfortable asking a stranger to vet a story they are only considering reading. If it's a long story, a reader might be infringing (or feel they're infringing) on someone else's time. And what happens if one asks a person who may have similar triggers as themselves -- triggers and events which they have chosen to remain silent about -- to read a non-warned/incorrectly warned story? One might be unintentionally putting a friend into a vulnerable position.


  3. Acting as if fandom has "clearly defined rules" or a universally-agreed-upon definition of "common courtesy" is heading for trouble.

    liviapenn on 22 Jun 2009


    The thing is, though, fandom does have some clearly defined rules, with a major one being: Thou shalt not post TV/film/book/comic/anime/manga spoilers without the use of a cut tag or warning. Even in your own personal journal.

    As jennem stated, and those who commented agreed, while you can't control who accesses your page (unless you've locked the content) or how it's accessed, it's the poster's responsibility to follow fannish mores or face the wrath of the irate. (Jennem's original post was linked to via Metafandom on 09 April 2009; it has since been locked. Hence, only the cached version is presently available.)

    While I don't ever expect fandom to reach a consensus on what should be warned for, it's pretty clear that if one has the time to enter code to black-out, white-out or ( LJ-cut for a spoiler ) -- or face the wrath of a large swath of fandom, even posting among friends within your own journal -- that neither the arguments for time constraints nor "it's my personal journal, suck it up" hold much water.


  4. I don't warn of potential triggers because there are so many triggers that I can't cover all of them, and I could easily miss one.

    racric on 23 Jun 2009


    This argument has been seen quite a lot. No, you can't warn for everything. As many people have stated, they can be triggered by extremely unusual or unlikely things, but they have also stated that they are aware that their triggers are clearly in the minority, and wouldn't expect people to anticipate them.

    A list has been compiled so far that includes: rape, torture, non-con, dub-con, incest, death/suicide, eating disorders, self-harm/self-mutilation, BDSM, among others. Yes, it's a rather long list, but unless your fic is throwing in everything and the kitchen sink and if it needs that much shock value to grab a reader, it's probably not very good to begin with, a warning on your story might only encompass, at most, three or four potential triggers. Hardly a difficult number or an unwieldy list to manage.

    As for worrying about missing a potential trigger? It may happen; it may not. But at least you will have given your best effort to be proactive. Sort of like posting a story cold and not knowing whether it will be greeted with cheers or jeers: if you've done your best, your conscience is clear. And as for the person screaming for a warning about clowns or Wedgwood china, they're the failure not you. Most people with real-life serious triggers would try to approach the subject with you as an adult, not as a whiny drama queen. Now, if you can't tell the difference between the rational and the emo, you're the one with a problem.


  5. My artistic integrity trumps any need for a reader to be warned.

    Distilled from various comments spanning many of the posts across this debate.

    For more compilations visit queenofhell's and lcsbanan's posts.



    Artistic integrity? Fandom? Please excuse the laughter.

    You're writing about characters you don't own, in universes that you appropriated, to tell a story that is based on canon written by someone else. And as far as a lot of RPF/S, you're making it up out of whole cloth.

    At least be willing to own the shit you write and stop hiding behind your pretentiousness. Just admit that there will be people who 1) wonder why the hell anyone would write fan fic in the first place; 2) won't like what you write; 3) will think you're sick/talented/disgusting/funny/weird/unique for writing it -- in fandom and out; and 4) will applaud your creativity.

    Warnings won't stifle your creativity or your artistic vision, nor will they give you scurvy, rickets or halitosis. But they might just help someone be better prepared to interrogate your text from the right perspective.
 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
Dash O'Pepperpfeffermuse on July 1st, 2009 12:02 pm (UTC)
It's painfully obvious to anyone who isn't trying to be deliberately obtuse that "warning" in this context is like "Achtung!" or "Attention!"

You're the first person I've read so far who phrased it so succinctly. Thank you.

I have to laugh when I see some of the people who say they are in the lifestyle but admit to doing nothing more edgy than some spanking and light bondage, or maybe even letting their lover hold them down during sex. *shocked gasp*

Pretty sure I know exactly who you're talking about. She seems to be a prime wanker whenever any type of discussion comes up that makes the rounds pan fandom; so, I take anything she says with a healthy dose of skepticism.
angelachristian: pornwriterangelachristian on June 29th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
This is the first time, that I hear of this trigger-issue. I use age-rating to indicate what might be not ok for anybody.
Dash O'Pepperpfeffermuse on June 29th, 2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
Age rating is usually used by the author to decide if they [the author] thinks something is appropriate for a particular age group. For example, if you were writing a fic with a lot of violence or sex in it, you personally might feel it shouldn't be read by anyone under fifteen years old. Now, how some random thirteen year old views the reading of that same fic, you have no control over.

With trigger warnings, however, you as the author know that the subject matter of the story might be anything from mildly unsettling to highly upsetting for a potential reader, and you're trying to make sure not to hurt or alienate a reader. For example, a warning for a very graphic rape scene (you don't have to give details in the warning, just list it as "graphic rape") would alert a reader, who might have been the victim of sexual assault, that this might be a story to avoid.

BTW, welcome here and to FFRants, and I apologise for anything I said there that upset you.