Saturday, February 2, 2013

Why I stand by an art blog's decision to forgo trigger warnings

Cave to Canvas is a Tumblr-based art blog that's a fantastic resource for anyone interested in art, especially those without access to an art museum, Recently, they took some heat  for not using trigger warnings on art that tends to the graphic. (Although they do use NSFW tags). I totally understand this position and here's why: it's an art blog, plain and simple, not a social justice community. It's understandable that in the SJ world that trigger warnings are encouraged, but since Cave to Canvas isn't part of that milieu, it shouldn't be expected that they follow the same rules.

If I'm being completely honest, I still don't know where I stand on the issue of trigger warnings in general. I can kind of agree with what Amanda Marcotte said a few years ago : trigger warnings send a message that this post is for select group, survivors, and that others aren't welcome. But I think that's a really narrow view of the possible negative effects using trigger warnings on everything -- or opting out of using trigger warnings. Mostly I don't use them, except when linking to lurid descriptions of violence, because I don't promote my site as an activist blog either. I'd like to think what I write is informed by an awareness of the various ways society assigns value to groups or people, but in the end, I'm a lowly pop culture blogger. The posts where I'd need a TW are few and far between anyway.

Here's my question: do you think sites that aren't part of the SJ world, even ones with a vague sense of awareness of how their content might effect certain readers, have a responsibility to use trigger warnings, or what Shakesville uses, "content notes?" Does the fact that Cave To Canvas uses NSFW tags make it hypocritical not to use a TW also?

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