“Microaggressions”, “Trigger Warnings”, and the New Meaning of “Trauma”

02Jan15

When I joined the Marines, I met a man who had survived a helicopter crash during a training exercise. The first time I saw him his head and face were covered in burn scars. A balloon filled with saline, that looked like a dinosaur’s crest, was implanted in his scalp to stretch the skin so hair could grow. Something that looked exactly like the checkered buttstock of an M16A2 was imprinted on one side of his head. He greeted me when I checked in to my unit, and totally ignored the shocked expression I must have had when he approached. He shook my hand, asked a few questions, then left with a friendly “See you later, PFC.” His demeanor left me with the absurd thought, Maybe he doesn’t know how strange he looks.

He had been assigned to my reserve unit while undergoing treatment at a nearby military burn unit. I wound up becoming friends with him later, and eventually worked up the nerve to ask him about the crash. Of course, I quickly followed my question with, “But if you don’t want to talk about it, nevermind. Sorry.”

He brushed off my concerns. “Nah, no problem. The day I can’t talk about it is the day it starts to haunt me.”

He told me about loading up with his platoon in the helicopter that day. He described what it was like to see the ground coming through the window and realize they were about to crash. He talked about grabbing his seat belt release, being knocked unconscious on impact by his rifle butt slamming into his temple, and waking up on the floor with his head on fire. He told me how he crawled toward the exit, in flames, past screaming, burning Marines trapped in their seats. He recounted his memory of shouting that he would come back to help them. He told me how he managed to drag himself over the edge of the helicopter’s ramp and fall into a rice paddy. He told me about other Marines who saw the crash and ran to save him and some others. He talked about all the friends he lost that day, more than a dozen. He talked about how much he missed being an infantryman, and how he had made peace with the fact that he could never be one again.

What struck me was how easily he was able to tell the story. I had never heard of someone making a decision not to let trauma affect their lives. I had a great uncle, still alive then, who had been a Marine in the Korean War. He came back traumatized, took years to get back to normal, and to his dying day never told anyone in the family what he experienced. Even after I became a Marine, he gave me only the barest details of his service. As far as I know he never told his Marine son either. Unlike my friend, my uncle couldn’t talk about his trauma.

I’ve experienced trauma myself. I don’t know how many murder scenes I’ve worked as a police officer. I remember the shock I felt when I walked up to a car after a seemingly minor accident and saw a two year old’s head lying on the floorboard. I stood helplessly outside a burning house as a ninety-two year old woman died inside, while her son screamed hysterically beside me. For years after my time as a soldier in Iraq I’d have a startle response if I unexpectedly saw a flash, like from a camera, in my peripheral vision (it reminded me of flashes from roadside bombs). Soldiers near me were shot, burned or killed by weather in Afghanistan.

My childhood wasn’t rosy either; early one morning when I was eight I heard pounding on our kitchen door, then was terrified to see a family member stumble into the house covered in blood after being attacked by a neighbor. Even today, after thirty-five years, I still sometimes tense up when I hear a knock at the door. When I was ten, my eleven year old best friend committed suicide because of a minor sibling dispute. He wrote a note, left a will, snuck his father’s pistol from a drawer and shot himself. I was severely affected by his death, and ten years later got a copy of his suicide note from the city morgue. After I read it, I finally felt that I could heal from that horrible event.

I’m no stranger to trauma, and I’ve dealt with it by writing and talking about it. I suppose I’ve always defined “trauma” the traditional way: a terrible experience, usually involving significant loss or mortal danger, which left a lasting scar. However, I’ve recently discovered my definition of trauma is wrong. Trauma now seems to be pretty much anything that bothers anyone, in any way, ever. And the worst “trauma” seems to come not from horrible brushes with death like I described above; instead, they’re the result of racism and discrimination.

Over the last year I’ve heard references to “Microagressions” and “Trigger Warnings”. Trigger Warnings tell trauma victims that certain material may “contain disturbing themes that may trigger traumatic memories for sufferers”; it’s a way for them to continue avoiding what bothers them, rather than facing it (and the memories that get triggered often seem to be about discrimination, rather than mortal danger). Microaggressions are minor, seemingly innocuous statements that are actually stereotype-reinforcing trauma, even if the person making the statement meant nothing negative.

Here are two examples of “trauma” from the “Microaggression Project” (http://www.microaggressions.com/):

My dad jokes with my younger sister that he remembers selling Girl Scout Cookies when he was a Girl Scout. She laughs, understanding the fact that since he’s a boy means that he could not have been a Girl Scout. Thanks, Dad. I’m a boy and a formal Girl Scout.

The assumption that Girl Scouts will be girls. That causes trauma.

24, female-bodied, in a relationship – so Facebook shows me ads with babies, wedding dresses, and engagement rings. Change gender on Facebook to male – suddenly I get ads pertaining to things I actually care about.

Facebook thinking a woman might be interested in marriage and children. That causes trauma.

A horrible example of microaggression: asking someone if they've been to Europe. Photo credit http://purpmagazine.com/lets-discuss-nu-microaggressions/swag

A horrible example of microaggression: asking someone if they’ve been to Europe. Photo credit http://purpmagazine.com/lets-discuss-nu-microaggressions/swag

As one might expect, “Microaggressions” and “Trigger Warnings” are most popular in our universities. In late 2013 A group of UCLA students staged a “sit-in” protest against a professor for – no joke – correcting their papers. These “Graduate Students of Color” began an online petition stating “Students consistently report hostile classroom environments in which the effects of white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and other forms of institutionalized oppression have manifested within the department and deride our intellectual capacity, methodological rigor, and ideological legitimacy. Empirical evidence indicates that these structural and interpersonal microaggressions wreak havoc on the psychophysiological health and retention rates of People of Color. The traumatic experiences of GSE&IS students and alumni confirm this reality” (http://www.thepetitionsite.com/931/772/264/ucla-call2action/).

A college professor expecting graduate students to write grammatically correct papers. That causes trauma.

In addition to correcting grammar, the professor insulted the “Graduate Students of Color” by changing “Indigenous” to the proper “indigenous” in their papers, thus reinforcing white colonial oppression of indigenous people. Oh, and he shook a black student’s arm during a discussion. “Making physical contact with a student is inappropriate, [the aggrieved Graduate Student of Color] added, and there are additional implications when an older white man does so with a younger black man” (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/11/25/ucla-grad-students-stage-sit-during-class-protest-what-they-see-racially-hostile).

A white professor gently touching a black student’s arm. That causes trauma.

More trauma-producing microaggression: asking someone about their ethnic background. "Typically, microaggressions are associated with subtle forms of racism, but they do go beyond race. For instance, 'You throw like a girl,' is a verbal microaggression, and the action of a White individual clutching his/her bag because a Latino is approaching, is a behavioral microaggression." From http://lagente.org/2014/01/gentistas-share-experiences-with-microaggressions/

More trauma-producing microaggression: asking someone about their ethnic background. “Typically, microaggressions are associated with subtle forms of racism, but they do go beyond race. For instance, “You throw like a girl,” is a verbal microaggression, and the action of a White individual clutching his/her bag because a Latino is approaching, is a behavioral microaggression.” From http://lagente.org/2014/01/gentistas-share-experiences-with-microaggressions/

I’ve reviewed these reports of “trauma”, and have reached a conclusion about them. I’m going to make a brief statement summarizing my conclusion. While I mean this in the nicest way possible, I don’t want victims of Microaggressions or supporters of Trigger Warnings to doubt my sincerity.

Fuck your trauma.

Yes, fuck your trauma. My sympathy for your suffering, whether that suffering was real or imaginary, ended when you demanded I change my life to avoid bringing up your bad memories. You don’t seem to have figured this out, but there is no “I must never be reminded of a negative experience” expectation in any culture anywhere on earth.

If your psyche is so fragile you fall apart when someone inadvertently reminds you of “trauma”, especially if that trauma consisted of you overreacting to a self-interpreted racial slur, you need therapy. You belong on a psychiatrist’s couch, not in college dictating what the rest of society can’t do, say or think. Get your own head right before you try to run other people’s lives. If you expect everyone around you to cater to your neurosis, forever, you’re what I’d call a “failure at life”, doomed to perpetual disappointment.

Reason.com

Reason.com

Oh, I should add: fuck my trauma too. I must be old-fashioned, but I always thought coming to terms with pain was part of growing up. I’ve never expected anyone to not knock on my door because it reminds me of that terrifying morning decades ago. I’ve never blown up at anyone for startling me with a camera flash (I’ve never even mentioned it to anyone who did). I’ve never expected anyone to not talk about Iraq or Afghanistan around me, even though some memories still hurt. I don’t need trigger warnings because a book might remind me of a murder victim I’ve seen.

And before anyone says it; being Hispanic doesn’t make me any more sympathetic to people who experience nonexistent, discriminatory “trauma”. Discrimination didn’t break me (or my parents, or grandparents). I’ve been discriminated against by whites for being Hispanic. I’ve been threatened by blacks for being white. I’ve been insulted by Hispanics for not being Hispanic enough. Big deal. None of that stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do. It wasn’t “trauma”. It was life.

Generations of Americans experienced actual trauma. Our greatest generation survived the Depression, then fought the worst war in humanity’s history, then built the United States into the most successful nation that has ever existed. They didn’t accomplish any of that by being crystal eggshells that would shatter at the slightest provocation, they didn’t demand society change to protect their tender feelings. They simply dealt with the hardships of their past and moved on. Even my great uncle, the Korea Marine, never expected us to tiptoe around him. He wouldn’t talk about his experience, but he didn’t order us not to.

So again, fuck your trauma. If your past bothers you that much, get help. I honestly hope you come to terms with it. I hope you manage to move forward. I won’t say anything meant to dredge up bad memories, and don’t think anyone should intentionally try to harm your feelings.

But nobody, nobody, should censor themselves to protect you from your pathological, and pathologically stupid, sensitivities.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

http://www.amazon.com/Line-Valley-Chris-Hernandez-ebook/dp/B00HW1MA2G/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=09XSSHABSWPC3FM8K6P4
http://www.amazon.com/Proof-Our-Resolve-Chris-Hernandez-ebook/dp/B0099XMR1E/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0S6AGHBTJZ6JH99D56X7

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479 Responses to ““Microaggressions”, “Trigger Warnings”, and the New Meaning of “Trauma””

  1. In case no one has mentioned it yet, instances of Borderline Personality Disorder are soaring in higher education. Students with BPD cause a variety of disruptions and problems, including highly dysfunctional and illogical communication, and there is probably a significant overlap of BPD with these kinds of issues, where extreme viewpoints become controversial.

    My personal experience is that some of the worst bullies are people on the PC/Left, and they are the ones that are primarily pushing the anti-bullying agenda. To be clear, the “anti-bullying” movement has corrupt elements in it that engage in bullying against their critics, typically when the critic is some combination of: white, male, heterosexual, not liberal/left/progressive.

    In other words, the whole thing takes a bizarre aspect of being a giant Jungian Shadow.

    I have actually heard academic clinicians with PhDs in psychology state that most students with BPD are female, from disadvantaged backgrounds (code for “non-white”) where significant life trauma has been present. There is specific research being done in how social workers and people in educational support roles (counselors and advisors, faculty) have to struggle with the problems that come from a huge increase in students with BPD.

  2. 2 hyrosen

    There’s nothing wrong with being told to “check your privilege”. It’s a reminder that people accrue advantage by what they are. Because of that, they make unconscious generalizations about life that are true for people like themselves, but do not apply to people in different situations. It’s why “let them eat cake” is a catchphrase. When you “check your privilege” you examine your beliefs in that light, and decide whether people without your privilege would have a legitimate reason to disagree with those beliefs. Hint: this is best done in an environment that mixes people of different backgrounds; I happen to think one of the best is jury duty.

    • 3 Ken

      There’s nothing wrong with being told to “check your privilege”.

      There is an enormous amount of wrong being told to “check your privilege” by the most privileged people on the face of the planet. It’s galling to hear someone say it because the ONLY people who say it are the most privileged people in human history.

      And one more thing: FUCK YOU, you selfish egotistical monster who expects everyone else to change their behavior to accomodate YOU.

      • 4 cbpelto

        RE: What’s Wrong w/Check Your Privilege and Other Tripe

        It’s like being pecked to death by ducks.

  3. 5 Keepmoving

    I think what you’re seeing is the scientific communities effort to understand humans and the brain better. Things are mental disorders now, that weren’t mental disorders years ago. Science is basically trying to characterize and be able to diagnose any problem that anyone could ever have or conceive. to me, that’s interesting, because that suggests that any crime committed could be defended by some mental or medical issue. If that is true, can anyone be held responsible for crimes? Does the law and punishment system break down? We live in a strange world that runs counter to everything that naturally evolved. It’s only going to get progressively more strange.

  4. 6 Jasmine Boehmke

    Many things worry me about this article, in fact as I wrote this I got pretty angry at this article so here we go:
    I worry about how he seems to have combined trigger warnings and micro-aggressions. These are very different things. I’ll start with trigger warnings:
    trig•ger warn•ing – a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc., alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material (often used to introduce a description of such content). Here’s more about them http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/01/what-why-when-where-and-how-5-common-questions-about-trigger-warnings-answered/
    The point to trigger warnings is to minimize hurt and to try to allow for people to choose whether to read/watch something or not. Just because Chris Hernandez deals with trauma in a certain way does not mean that others do not need other ways to cope with trauma. It normalizes the belief that people with mental disabilities, PTSD and who have experienced trauma have something wrong with them. It normalizes people who do not need trigger warnings which further oppresses those who do. I find this quote especially problematic “Get your own head right before you try to run other people’s lives. If you expect everyone around you to cater to your neurosis, forever, you’re what I’d call a “failure at life”, doomed to perpetual disappointment.”
    People who are neuro diverse and those with trauma and mental disabilities work through them in the way they are able. They may never “get their head right” in the way Chris Hernandez demands they do. Society does not at all cater to those folks and this is the problem! That is what marginalization is, telling those who are not able-bodied, neuro typical, cis-gendered male identifying, white, middle/upper class, Christian, heterosexual, monogamous etc. that they are different, their needs don’t matter and they must fit into a society that was built to oppress them. Trigger warnings, especially in activist spaces simply are trying to lessen the hurt and pain folks feel every day. Trigger warning don’t mean don’t read, write, create and watch anything, they just give people a better idea of what the content is. It doesn’t mean don’t discuss, don’t seek help and support, don’t have hard conversations, it simply allows for people to take better care of themselves.
    I think that Chris Hernandez’s view of trauma follows a common sexist narrative that we have in this society, especially for male appearing individuals, is to just “deal with it,” that you should expect pain and show little emotion that is part of what your role is. I think that this narrative is especially prevalent in the military.
    Chris says: “Even my great uncle, the Korea Marine, never expected us to tiptoe around him. He wouldn’t talk about his experience, but he didn’t order us not to.”
    This is problematic because it does not allow for people, especially male appearing individuals to show and work though their emotions, and it also creates the stereotypes that showing emotion and acknowledging them is something that is “weak” and “feminine.” Trigger warnings allow for one to decide when they may want to think about certain topics. It does not mean they will never be triggered in the world, but tries to create safer spaces.

    Micro-aggression is a form of “unintended discrimination”. It is depicted by the use of known social norms of behavior and/or expression that, while without conscious choice of the user, has the same effect as conscious, intended discrimination.
    I also don’t think the author fully understands systematic racism. Chris says:
    “And before anyone says it; being Hispanic doesn’t make me any more sympathetic to people who experience nonexistent, discriminatory “trauma”. Discrimination didn’t break me (or my parents, or grandparents). I’ve been discriminated against by whites for being Hispanic. I’ve been threatened by blacks for being white. I’ve been insulted by Hispanics for not being Hispanic enough. Big deal. None of that stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do. It wasn’t “trauma”. It was life.”
    His experiences of discrimination are completely valid and no violence is okay, however racism is a systematic oppression of people of color and racial micro-aggressions are these small things and comments that perpetuate the othering of individuals of color and normalize this systematic oppression. Just as gendered micro aggressions perpetuate the systematic oppression marginalized gender identities. Working to recognize and stop the use of micro-aggressions aids in pushing back against systems of power. Here’s more info: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Microaggressions, http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/09/the-many-faces-of-homophobia/
    Isolated, micro-aggressions do not seem like a big deal, however they add up like the famous quote “dying from 1000 tiny cuts.” People are speaking up about these injustices and trying to create a space for justice to happen. To an outsider, something might seem trivial, however to the person maybe it was the final straw in a lifetime of little things and they finally are speaking up.
    For me one photoshoped picture in a magazine is a small thing, but 22 years of comments about female bodies, and 1000s of picture in magazines and diet ads and friends self deprecating comments, the centrally positioned scale in the bathroom and judgmental looks etc. etc. and my mind and body hold trauma from the oppression of female bodies. I hide the scale in my bathroom at my parents’ house because it triggers me to think about a lifetime of society telling me how my body should be.
    Chris Hernandez has experienced great trauma, and personally I want him to deal with it how he chooses, and I see how it is hard to look past your own trauma and find someone else’s problems lacking. But this should not be a battle of who is more oppressed, it should be a world of lifting everyone up and creating safer spaces for people to exist in. People should not have to explain and validate their trauma.
    Chris says: “Generations of Americans experienced actual trauma. Our greatest generation survived the Depression, then fought the worst war in humanity’s history, then built the United States into the most successful nation that has ever existed. They didn’t accomplish any of that by being crystal eggshells that would shatter at the slightest provocation, they didn’t demand society change to protect their tender feelings. They simply dealt with the hardships of their past and moved on”
    This paragraph is so problematic, I don’t even know where to begin. Yes, generations of Americans have experienced actual trauma. Shall we start with Native Americans who were brutally massacred, stripped of their land and culture, forced to assimilate to “build the United States into the most successful nation that has ever existed” where still to this day continue to suffer from the highest rates of heart disease and diabetes, lack of nutrition, stigmatization and racism. How about Africans forced from their homelands to come and be slaves under white plantation owners and African Americans today who still today face higher rates of poverty, police brutality, incarceration and stigmatization. What about women who were not considered smart enough to work or vote and who still today make less money and experience high rates of rape and abuse. The only reason anything has ever changed is because people have demanded “society change to protect their tender feelings.”

    • 7 cbpelto

      RE: Whiney Response

      So….you’re a recent product of the vaunted American public education system. Someone who was raised in that creche of soft cotton and never taught that Life is Tough.

      Do get back to all of US after you’ve experienced a life threatening trauma.

      You haven’t lived until you’ve almost died.

    • 8 cbpelto

      RE: And a Feminist Too!

      Don’t be surprised that when the proverbial SHTF, no men come to your rescue while the Reavers are beating down your door.

      The feminist movement died one milli-second after the first impact. — Niven and Pournelle, Lucifer’s Hammer

      P.S. I’m not a homophobe. I’m a Jehovaphobe.

      [The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.]

    • 9 Graves

      Re: your anger. Don’t care.

      Trigger warnings are intended to be a way to rule certain topics beyond the pale, and we all know it has already moved from possible trauma to preventing speech which isn’t politically correct.

      Microaggressions are trivia, and should and will be treated as such outside of academia.

      Your last paragraph is especially hysterical. You list real traumas and then conflate them to petty annoyances, showing a lack of understanding of the denotational meanings, and then you reveal that things changed for the better without trigger warnings and microaggressions as concepts, which leads me to wonder why we need to put such into play. We fix problems without them, as is easily shown from your own words. This leads me to conclude that the time and effort could more profitably be employed on other, real problems.

      • 10 cbpelto

        RE: It’s All About ‘Control’

        Typical feminist approach to debate/discussion, to control what is taboo and don’t go upsetting them. On ANY topic.

        I generally have little to do with such, except to point out their blatant hypocrisy, as with Jasmine here. She whines and moans about ‘social justice’ issues, which are not part of this topical thread.

        She’s just trying to change the subject, because she doesn’t like the way the initial article is calling such items out as ‘stupid’….or worse. MUCH worse.

        As former Vice President Hubert Humphrey put it….

        Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate.

        People such as Jasmine and her ilk are not interested in freedom. They’re only interested in CONTROL! Hence, ‘microaggressions’ and—as you pointed out—’trigger warnings’.

        Good call….. 😉

    • Your comment almost deserves a blog post of its own. Nearly every false trauma justification is in there. The part about you being triggered by the mere sight of a bathroom scale is exactly what I was referring to. I’ll have to hit this more later.

      When referring to slavery, please ensure you mention the black Africans who captured other Africans and sold them to whites as slaves. And please mention that black slave owners still own black slaves in Africa. And that black slave owners owned black slaves in America.

      “That is what marginalization is, telling those who are not able-bodied, neuro typical, cis-gendered male identifying, white, middle/upper class, Christian, heterosexual, monogamous etc. that they are different, their needs don’t matter and they must fit into a society that was built to oppress them.”

      That’s odd. I grew up upper-low to lower middle class, I’m not “white”, and I’m not Christian. Somehow this society didn’t systemically oppress me, and still doesn’t.

      I must be a fluke.

    • 12 karllembke

      I recently found a post on AccordingToHoyt that applies here:

      Not discounting that there is real trauma in the world, and there are people who encounter real triggers, she points out that a certain amount of trauma is necessary for growth.

      For instance older son came from the hospital convinced (he was born in a small university hospital and we stayed for two weeks, because I was too ill to go home. For most of that time he was the only child there, being carried around 24/7 by nurses and attendants) that he would be catered to every hour of the day or night. Learning not to wake us when we slept came through our not picking him up when he screamed all night. Learning to give a d*mn that mom and dad got some rest and weren’t stumbling zombies came even later, through painful situations (like having a brother) that taught him he was not the center of the universe.

      What I’m trying to say is that if you don’t expose a child to some discomfort, starting as an infant, if you cater to his every whim and do everything to stop him crying/being upset, the child will never grow up.

      and

      If you’re raised without your level of discomfort approaching what was normal for most human childhoods for oh, most of the twentieth century – which in relation to the rest of history is already immensely pampered – you’re going to experience any discomfort as a huge trauma.

      Think of it as being raised in a bubble. The first time you come out and catch the common cold, you’re going to be extremely ill, even though the people around you are shrugging off the sniffles, and making fun of yours.

      Now imagine one of the kids raised in this emotional bubble, where no one is allowed to even say anything mean (because the daycare manages interpersonal conflict, to keep trouble to a minimum) to them. The real world – a boss’s scathing comments; friends who don’t invite you to a party; your artwork being less than admired – is going to seem like a series of kicks in the teeth. This is probably, partly, where the concept of micro aggressions comes from.

      What’s more, the concept applies on a societal level as well:

      And for those excusing things like the Charlie Hebdo massacre because they were really mean to Muslims. Pah. You are no friend of Muslims. Part of the issue with Islam is that it hasn’t been hardened in a pluralistic society.
      ….
      So there’s been no disputation, no argument. And their holy book guarantees that they’re superior and that everyone would believe like them, if the person were good. Yes, most holy books do so, but in their case, growing up in the midst of communities who all believed this, they can’t imagine anyone arguing.

      When they move out to the real world, you know, the greater world with believers in other holy books or in nothing at all, they can’t process people making fun of their prophet or religion as anything but a deliberate slap in the face. So they react as a kid who has been mollycoddled from childhood would to being told he’s ugly and his mother dresses him funny. Even if it happens to all the other kids, to him it’s new and horrible. He can’t process it, so he reacts with violence against self or against others.

      Jasmine, there are two theories about how the body and the mind respond to environmental insults. One is that they accumulate, and progressively degrade function until the machine breaks down. The other is that they provoke the immune system to deal with them, and the repair systems to higher activity.

      For psychological insults, you have a mind and therefore you have the ability to decide whether to take it like a machine that inevitably wears out, or a human who is capable of growth and adaptation.

    • 13 Roy in Nipomo

      Privilege is “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people”, which seems to be an apropo description of what is demanded for “trigger warnings”. To enshrine victimhood, as the SJWs do, is to say people are weak. While it is true that some (many? most?) people need assistance (family, friends or professionals) in getting through some of the problems that life has erected for them, I believe most people are strong enough (mentally) to be able to work through them enough to function in society. Some people, of course, are unable to do this and for their safety probably should be kept away from society in a safe place until a way can be found that allows them function in it. Society shouldn’t have to change to cater to the absolutely lowest capable participant in it (and if it doesn’t cater to the absolute least, then who gets to decide where to draw the line?).

      There is a “joke” going around about the difference between how men and women differ in assisting friends with problems. Women seek to protect their friend, while men attempt to desensitize their friend. Either method can work, but either can be done to excess. The goal in either case should be to assist the person to get beyond the psychological aspects of the problem. The difference between this and what is suggested in the above screed is that what one does for a friend is tailored to that friend and will not be applicable society-wide as a “one size fits all” solution.

      “Micro-aggression is a form of ‘unintended discrimination’. It is depicted by the use of known social norms of behavior and/or expression that, while without conscious choice of the user, has the same effect as conscious, intended discrimination.” So, someone is to be pilloried for using “social norms of behavior”, while those who go outside of those norms (e.g. some of the earlier Gay Pride parades) are exalted? It appears that some people are just looking for more excuses to be “victims”.

      Too long, sorry.

    • 14 Ken

      Jasmine,

      “But this should not be a battle of who is more oppressed”

      But it is. YOU are the one claiming that everyone should care about YOU, while you take no care at all about anyone else. YOU are the one claiming that straight, Christian white men are the most oppressive class and therefore can safely be ignored. YOU are the one making this into a competition, by insisting YOUR pain be made public in order to compare to everyone else’s, rather than be an adult about your pain and deal with it privately.

      You talk out of both sides of your mouth. When confronted with other people’s pain and their lives, you complain it’s not a competition. But in the context of YOUR pain and life, it’s clearly a competition and everyone should know about you and you get to dictate how everyone else behaves, because somehow you’re more important than everyone else.

      However, you are indeed a shining example of the childish immaturity that defines feminism and the grievance industry in general. For that I thank you for your comment. I hope everyone will read your comment, in order to see exactly what a bad person you really are.

    • 15 Chris

      WWAAHHHH..My feelings are hurt, Whitney!!! I have to retreat to my safe space and deal with the trauma that your response has caused. Go back to your sheltered, coddled life..Cry baby.

      • 16 Peter Suedfeld

        Regrettably, I haven’t the faintest idea what this is about or why it was sent to me.

  5. Great post, thank you for this.

  6. 18 D. Scruggs

    I read every comment. It is a slow night, I had nothing better to do. I loved the article. I agree with most of it. One thing that was not clear to me was about trigger warnings. (Maybe I need to reread the article.) Are people, and maybe Chris, objecting to trigger warnings being being given at all, or to the fact that some special snowflakes demand them?

    I have no problem with them being offered. The picture of the leg bone sticking out from one of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing was mighty disturbing. Sometimes I saw it cropped, or blurred, and even a couple times with warnings. I appreciated the warnings myself. I also like it when they give me enough time for my grandkids to not have to be exposed to certain things, and my own kids when they were younger.

    But if they don’t, I suck it up and move on.

    Micro-aggressions though? To quote Col. Sherman T. Potter, “Horse hockey!” That is the kind of crap I would expected at UC Berkeley whilst I was there. I’m glad they didn’t put up with such stuff in the engineering departments. Of course, the engineering profs wouldn’t have even understood the concept.

    • 19 cbpelto

      RE: Trigger Warnings?

      Get use to life being awkward.

      The distaff has a thing about hypodermic needles. Must be hereditary, as her father—God rest his soul—had the same thing.

      Whenever a movie has someone getting a shot, she averts her eyes and asks me when it’s over.

      Should we have a ‘trigger warning’ flash on the screen for that sort of scene to protect her? Then what about your scenario, e.g., serious physical injuries and small, cute animals get hurt, children crying, etc., etc., etc.

      It would be like the disclaimers on all those medicinal ads during commercials on television. Total distraction from the show.

      People who can’t get used to the facts that Life is Tough, are the product of the vaunted American public education system. They are unprepared for Life.

      Thank a teacher…… 😉

      [He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear. — Ralph Waldo Emerson]

  7. 20 D. Scruggs

    One other thought. When I read the opening paragraphs, I was reminded of one of my firefighters, a young man of about 21. He has one hand that is more like a lobster claw. He compensates well.

    Not long ago we were being given a demo of some new extrication tools, some electric/hydraulic cutters and spreaders. The cutters look remarkably like his hand. So after the demo, he walks up to one of the pieces of steel we were cutting up, and proceeds to imitate cutting it with the bad hand whilst making revving motor noises. Those couple of us who caught it cracked up.

    I think he will do just fine.

    • 21 John

      I have to say I appreciated this article. I still don’t really know what a microagression is; sounds like a load of shite to me. In any event, I do not have PTSD, but I do have schizoaffective disorder (a psychotic disorder similar to having schizophrenia and bipolar disorder at the same time), and this can make it tough to go to school, be out in public, has caused me to wind up losing jobs, etc. I am also in college right now, and last semester took abnormal psychology; there was a night when we were discussing psychotic disorders, and the teacher played a voice simulator, and I grimaced, as it happened to sound very much like some of the auditory hallucinations, but I didn’t leave or bitch about it (even though it was at a sufficient volume in the room as to feel realistic and make me doubt what was happening). This is to say nothing of the other things which happened during the last semester. Having been on that goddamn site tumblr, as well, I can also say that I’ve never employed or obeyed this trigger warning horseshit, neither have I expected society to mold itself around me and my concerns.

      In closing, my own father is a Marine, and I would like to think that some of his mental toughness, if nothing else, has rubbed off on me over the years. I had hoped to follow in his footsteps, if all this hadn’t happened perhaps I could have, but as it went “a few good men.” My hat’s off to you, Officer Hernandez, for your service and accomplishments as a Policeman and a Marine. And, come this November, happy 240th birthday!

  8. 22 ray

    Great story about the helicopter serviceman.

    The Victimocracy couldn’t have grown to rule U.S. culture without the cooperation of law enforcement . . . and of course collusion by the courts, media, schools, and government in general. Women would not feel so empowered to accuse and persecute men were they not backed up by LEs, who often rush to the ‘defense’ of their lies and seething vengeances. Too much money to be had, too easily. Too easy for modern guys to play I’m the Big Protector Man, while jettisoning fairness for Somebody Else’s son. It’s a predatory nation, and has been for decades.

    So we are all responsible for where America is now, and where it is now is the very pit of hell. Cheers.

  9. 23 mightypeon

    First things first, I quite strongly agree with the article.

    I got stabbed once, and basically got some quite intense sensations of hypervigilance when coming near young people belonging to the ethnic group that stabbed me. I took up some pretty serious martial arts training, partly in a Dojo full of people from this ethnic group. This worked really well, psychologically and physically, and I got some friendships which I would not have gotten otherwise.

    I am also fully aware that this easy method of dealing with a Trauma is not available for some really traumatic stuff. Traumatization by f.e. torture, or learned helplessness, is really difficult to mediate, let alone fix.

    What I am not so certain about is wether this mode of communication will work well in convincing those who exhibit such behaviors of the intellectual and philosophical limitations of their ways.

    The injured person at the beginning of your article lets loose with a pearl of wisdom straight at the start, if he cannot talk about his experiences, then his experiences rule him. I think that emphasising this point, “Do you want to be ruled by those traumas you suffered? Is what you suffered truelly enough to rule you forever? Do you wish to define yourself by what was inflicted upon you by others, instead of defining yourself by your own actions and achievments?” is perhaps a psychologically better way of educating these people.

    Noone likes getting yelled at, even more so if the yelling is justified.

  10. 24 Georgissimo

    Chris,

    Awesome piece, man,

    To the “nuanced”, touchy-feely, self-anointed types spewing contrived nonsense posing as righteous indignation over the article, get over yourselves.

    This has nothing to do with racsim, sexisim, or whatever other -ism that your Media Matters/MSNBC-indoctrinated mind has invoked.

    Women, and all sorts of “people of color” have of course experienced trauma, just like the Evil White Males you blame the world’s problems on. And guess what?? In generations past, they got over it, said fuck that, and moved on. As Chris said, that doesn’t rule out therapy and other ways of dealing with it, it just means stop demanding that the world conform to you, ESPECIALLY when many, if not most, of the supposed “traumas” in question are one or more of the following (List includes but is not limited to the following):
    a) Laughably trivial (sorry, the truth hurts)
    b) Not experienced by the individual claiming to be traumatized
    c) Not having occurred even within a century of the trauma claim

    For example, slavery. Slavery, we can all agree, is an awful, disgusting, evil, reprehensible, unconscionable, vile, putrid, despicable, and again evil thing.
    However, it is important to note the following:
    a) All races, nationalities and ethnicities have practiced slavery at some point in their history, whether it was slaves who looked similar to their slavers, or looked differently from their slavers.
    b) The fact that the word “slavery” immediately conjures ONLY the image of white slavers and black slaves is not just historically inaccurate, but is somewhat ironically racist. You see, blacks have (and continue to through this day) enslaved other blacks, and it was, in fact, black slave traders that sold other blacks (from different tribes) to whites who came to Western Africa a few some odd hundred years ago. Prior to that, for thousands of years, this went on.
    Also blacks have enslaved whites, as Ottoman (Muslim) Turks brutally enslaved White (mostly Christian) peoples. Google the Ottoman and Barbary slave trade.
    Anyways, this applies to CHina, Japan, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and every civilization except for modern Western civilization. Note that the slave trade was cracked down on for THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY by white Western people. Yes. What other societies do you know of where the “privileged” race/tribe/people went to war, and died by the millions, to free those enslaved by members of their own race/tribe? The answer is NONE. The West is the only one. That is why we are morally superior to every civilization that has preceded us, and most likely, any one that will follow.
    c) Slavers and slaves from the North American slave trade are all long dead. Those that should have been punished are unfortunately beyond the reach of justice. Those that they brutalized are beyond our help. Their descendants do not practice these barbaric acts, and in fact abhor them. Harping on about it not only does no good, but actually slows down the people it claims to want to help. Notice that blacks who are stuck in grievance mode (for things that didn’t happen to them personally) tend to lag far, far behind black immigrants who show up here with virtually nothing? Within a single generation, immigrants (blacks, Chinese, Asian, etc) who came from dirt-poor dictatorships, own their own houses, send their kids to law school and medical school. All the while, some blacks who have been here for generations (with full citizenship, affirmative action entitlements, food stamps, etc.) wallow in self-pity, falling farther behind. Like a vicious cycle, all this gets blamed on the “system”, Cpaitalism, The Man, White People, etc.

    Anways. Millions, no Billions of people around the world have clearly demonstrated that the path to success is avoiding self-pity, hard work and growing a thick skin.

    Life sucks sometimes. But ironically, usually the people who bitch about it are the ones that tend to have it pretty damn good.

    Hears 1 quick question to ask yourself:
    Q: When is the last time you heard a Vietnamese boat person bitch about micro-aggression?
    A: Never. Because they experienced real-life actual “macro”-aggression in the form of Communist tyranny, and they are too busy working their asses off to send their kids to medical school to become doctors – doctors who will treat your sandy vagina for “micro-aggression”.

    In conclusion: Fuck Your “Trauma”.

  11. 25 Troy

    I’m not sure if the suggestion of therapy for our society’s “psychologically sensitive” castes will really help one iota. After years of alcoholically self induced ‘trauma’, I found myself in front of various ‘professionals’ of what I call the ‘trades’. In many cases these people have an interest in reinforcing, manipulating and even manufacturing further ‘traumas’. It’s laughable. All I know is that life has a way of sorting itself out.

  12. What a great article. I will print this out and try my best to learn it. F. Y. T.
    I like that.

  13. Thanks for putting such thoughts way more eloquently than I ever could. 🙂 I found this post after I googled “trigger warnings,” after I made a video with my own thoughts on the subject. I wish I had found this post ahead of time so I could tell others to go read it. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgoPnutdmQw is my “Trigger Warnings are Bullshit” video, if anyone is curious to watch it)

  14. 28 stjones911

    As an older, more conservative white male, I was deeply traumatized by your use of F-bombs. I think I deserved a trigger warning at the top of the page. But the rest of it was well-said and absolutely right! Thanks.

  15. 29 uncommonsense

    Reblogged this on Uncommon Sense.

  16. 30 Ione

    Very good article. I know how you feel. Have you thought that maybe all of the traumatized fucksticks that run Facebook have nothing better to do. Then again Mark “The Jewfuck” Zuckerberg was traumatized at Christmas for being a Jew and not being allowed to celebrate like evry normal person on this planet does.

  17. 35 Tom and Angie Dolan

    We’re so proud to have “Microaggressions”, “Triggerwarnings” and the New Meaning of “Trauma” on our facebook page. Thank you for writing it. A lot of ivory tower delusions would do less damage, and would be just embarrasising memories for some sooner, if more people like you would speak out and write in your civil but direct way. Thanks again, Tom and Angie Dolan.

  18. You have no idea how relieved I am to see that common sense still exists in this world. You put this in better words than I could ever have done.

    Thank you for this and everything you’ve done in service.

    Thank you.

  19. 37 Dae

    I thought this was incredibly on point and so valid. I work in mental health and I see the effects of people who avoid trauma speak. They’re weak and expect everyone around them to change their lives for them. They never succeed in getting stronger, just more sheltered. Everyone needs to read this and, as you said, get help if they can’t handle life. Thanks for writing this and for your service.

  20. As a professional in the mental health field I gotta say this is the article I’ve wanted to write for years. Awesome and right on the mark. Thank you for this excellent piece.

  21. 39 Calvin

    A–EFFFEN-MEN!!!

    Thank you for speaking what normal people are thinking. “F**K YOUR TRAUMA” should be our national motto! Get over things and get your ass to work.

  22. 40 WindRider

    Chris,

    Outstanding article!

    Thanks for writing it.

  23. Thank you Chris, for writing this.
    I grew up here in the states, raised by immigrant parents who were 10 to 14 years old during WWII in the occupied Netherlands. Despite having experienced, first hand, all the atrocities of war for years on end, never did I ever hear them, their siblings or other Dutch people I grew up around whine bitch, piss or moan about ‘the war’…. They went on with life. Many were very religious and had a strong faith. Maybe that was it. I can’t be sure in all cases, but my parents were both wise, philosophical and faithful people.

    When I moved into my current house years ago, I gained neighbors where were my parent’s age: one from Germany, the other from northern Italy. They too had survived the atrocities of war as kids. In 2004, during the height of Iraqis whining and bitching about being ‘occupied’ (how bout freed you MFers), I ask Cecilia over the hedge: ‘How did YOU deal with the Allies bombing the hell out of your city, etc.? What did all you civilians thing? (She was a retired history teacher and we always talked politics) I’ll never forget it. She looked at me like I was crazy and said, without missing a beat, ‘Well, WE KNEW where the evil was coming from and what we had to deal with to get rid of it”. Complete clarity of thought. She knew good from evil, right from wrong, good guys from bad guys and that you had to go through some hell to get rid of the bad guys.

    BTW, she and her family left the city of DRESDEN two weeks before it was leveled.

    An amazing, gracious, lady. I’ll never forget her.
    Chris – again – thanks.

    Keep making lemonade.

  24. 42 Keith Henry

    Semper Fi, Chris. Great article. The Marine at the beginning was Charlie 1/5, Team Spirit 1989, right?

  25. EXCELLENT article, well done sir – shared everywhere and emailed to CEO of Tumblr! 🙂

  26. 45 Leah Petrilli

    Thank you! 1000 times thank you, from an infantry Marine’s Mom.

  27. Powerful and true. Thank you for writing this.

  28. 47 mic

    Great article. If more people like you could talk about their real trauma we probably wouldn’t have exaggerations of it floating around so much. People aren’t trying to be obtuse. Sometimes they just don’t know.

  29. Great article. If more people like you could talk about their real trauma we probably wouldn’t have exaggerations of it floating around so much.

  30. Screw you. You don’t get to define what traumatizes others. You are not a mental health professional and your opinion is yours alone.

    • When I was in Afghanistan Michael Jackson died. If I claim that traumatized me, do you accept it without question?

    • 51 Estwald

      You get to decide whether or not you feel traumatized. You do not necessarily get to demand that others govern their behavior to accommodate your claim of being traumatized.

      • 52 George Jefferson

        Well, I find your disagreement with my opinion to be traumatizing. I demand compensation for my suffering.

        You statement is sort of self-contradictory, because the claim of trauma almost always is followed by demands to alter the behaviour of others.
        If you are against telling others what to do, then you should be opposed to people claiming trauma for any inconvenience and demanding accommodation for their hurt feelings.

      • 53 George Jefferson

        Estwald, my bad. I replied to either the wrong comment or misread yours.
        I am on my iPhone and can only read a few lines at a time.
        I agree about your comment regarding accommodation.

    • 54 George Jefferson

      Ben,
      While there is no 100% absolute definition of what exactly constitutes trauma and what does not, do you think that it is a good idea to have a generation of people who claim “trauma” due to having their feeling hurt by being asked where they are from or where they spent their vacation?
      There is such a thing as being too sensitive. We are well last that point.
      No need to get upset. I wouldn’t want you to be traumatized, after all.
      Like people have already posted, both adults and children have lived through things far, far worse, more life-threatening and difficult than the things that special snowflakes of today are claiming caused them “trauma”.

      Reality bursts bubbles.

    • Aww did you get Butt hurt? Troll much Buttercup? Suck it up dude, that is your Opinion and Yours alone……. Must have hit close to home, huh?

    • 56 Bayushi

      What?

      If you’re “traumatized” from something someone said on Twitter… tough. Suck it up, Princess.

      Like Chris Hernandez, I served in Afghanistan and saw combat on numerous occasions. I suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury on my last deployment in 2005. I DIED on the table and was resuscitated. I had seen terrible things in Afghanistan… both what happened to buddies and what happened to Afghani locals that crossed the Taliban.

      Those are traumatic memories. I remember them well, and I constantly remind myself of them. Why? Because I LEARN from my experiences. The problem here with you you whiny children is that you DON’T learn from your experiences, you try your hardest to distance yourself from them.

      Thus, you never learn from past mistakes. You’re intellectually and emotionally stunted.

      Learn to deal with it. If I could, with brain damage, you can too.

  31. 57 Kira Travis

    You helped me realize That As a student I shouldn’t take everything so seriously that is said concerning what could traumatize me essentially. Thank you for this article. Its eye opening and enlightening, your strong Sir, and you have a great heart. I take online class and I’m not going to an actual campus, I don’t even participate in the Live lecture my class holds, I just don’t care I do the work, learn whats needed and move on, nothing special its boring at times but thats fine.
    I’m 19, and a female the only traumas I’ve had was being sent to a psych ward or hospital for about 16 hours because they thought I was suicidal and i wasn’t, I was just dealing with my parents divorce and the normal elementary/ middle bullying, no big deal. The more I talked about it the better i dealt with it an could understand it so its rationalized an not much of a trauma to me.
    The second was Graduation for high school and at 18 I was nearly being raped later that night, and being told that if i slept that night I was losing my virginity whether i wanted to or not and if i didn’t sleep I was to go home or leave Mentally and physically exhausted, putting myself at risk to get into an accident plus a DUI charge possibility( had an 8oz light budweiser can and it’d been 4 hours since i had it when i left @5:38am). Neither looked good or was even safe at all. but I wasn’t gonna be raped so I drove to town, to rationalize the fact that i was sexually harassed as well an nearly raped. And talked to a couple of people who worked the early shift at the local eatery vaguely about why i was up so early an or still awake( at that time i’d been awake nearly 29 hrs running on adrenaline) I calmed down enough to drive home and shower an sleep for the next day and when I woke up I felt drained and melancholy…
    I felt better when I called a friend who told me to come hang out a go bowling she’d pay so I went and we got to talking an she could tell something was wrong and told me lets go to the bathroom and talk or outside whichever i preferred and wherever we went I spilled my story an told her, I din’t cry, and I just shook, my hands shook but as i talked about it, I calmed down and was fine, every time I talk about the things that really bother me I shake or vibrate get goosebumps, get chills, but the more i talk about it the less these things happens. So, I have my “mechanisms” I use to get over things, I talk to close friends and I talk to complete strangers about things I’ve experienced,I hang out with friends, I write stories poems or songs about whatever my mood is or feelings or events all very blunt but vague but i know what the inspiration was behind it, and I read and listen to others, and I write an play music,….I basically go about my normal routine. My mechanisms help me, I don’t take medication, don’t need it, never did, so if I become traumatized or offended over something It doesn’t last long enough to matter after awhile, I deal.
    But your right though nobody should censor themselves, just so others don’t have triggers my triggers are anything I remember about the events,colors games, drinks, words, sounds, even similar voices and touch textures, I exploit them everyday so they become meaningless to me, just so i don’t react harshly or withdrawn when i come face to face with the people or actions… been doing it for years. I got people to stop bullying me i made my self desensitized to what they said. But only when i understood they were bullying me when they were just being people and talking, I would come around and talk back with them like a normal person. I figured I share this with you as well proof of his Fuck your trauma, over the “Microaggressions”, “Trigger Warnings”, and the New Meaning of “Trauma”…. I’m saying with him just Get over it. It can be done you can get over it, Its okay, to let it go. Thats all. Thanks for reading. And Thank you for your service Mr. Chris Hernandez.

    • 58 cbpelto

      RE: Your Story

      Nothing personal, but your story exemplifies what I’ve been saying for YEARS! That the vaunted American public education system has failed out young people since the 1980s—when Jimmy Carter instituted the Department of Education and REAL education when into the toilet.

      Life is tough. The public school system doesn’t teach that. Indeed, it keeps young people so isolated from the World of the Real that when they finally encounter it they are shocked to find how harsh life is.

      Hence the skyrocketing (1) PTSD and (2) suicides in the military, (3) over-sensitive whining of young people who expect that crying and blaming will get them what they want.

      • 59 Kira Travis

        None taken, they just teach us to test well, since they took home economics out and all the classes that teach you about the life and how to deal with stuff like getting a job, resumes, interviews, dealing with taxes, cooking, and the rest of stuff like loans and getting a house or an apartment.

  32. 60 PTSD Oops

    At least the “whiners” can get help with their trauma, vets take the easy way out and blow out their brains, which to be honest isn’t that bad considering they’re damaged goods anyways.

    This article is basically a rehash of “Kids around the world are starving, so anything that sucks in your life just doesn’t at all, because there are starving kids!”

  33. 61 Akiva

    A really interesting article, and I truly respect and find your opinion touches on truth. However, I do believe that you are perhaps conflating two things. Trigger warnings and disinvitations are ways of shying away from ideas that hurt us, but the idea behind microagressions is not that they remind people of past trauma, but that they are what constitutes discrimination in our society today. Being watched once like a thief when you walk into a store is something that anyone should be able to deal with, but when you and your race are always treated as criminals it is a different issue. Being passed over for a promotion is annoying, but not life ending; knowing you have a lower chance of getting because you are a woman is bad. Thoughts>

    • Thank you, Akiva. I also think he’s so scared to death that other people are trying to tell him and others what to do, that it obscures his other, very excellent points. Making a suggestion to put trigger warnings on something, for example, is not the same thing as trying to police people’s actions (though like anything, it could be said in a bossy way). And even if it is, no one’s forcing him to do so.
      I put trigger warnings on my blog, where appropriate, because I think it’s a decent thing to do, not because I want to coddle people. People should have the right to know what they’re reading, and to deal with their pain at their own pace and in their own way.

  34. 63 Kelly

    Thank you sir, for your service.

  35. 64 Ian Deal

    Excellently written. The absurdity of the academic culture is the culmination of 75 years of Frankfurt School influence. Academics think they control reality by defining words and the rules of conversation and culture, but reality has a habit of intervening. We are a free people and will remain so only as long as we stand up for actual rights and mock those who would trade freedom for security (of course gaining neither as B. Franklin so aptly noted). Thanks for your past and continuing service.

  36. 65 just some genuine praise

    Mr. Hernandez: If you and I were in the same room, I’d High Five you so hard right now. I am sick of the lack of mental and intestinal fortitude of my generation and the generations following. The mentality of expecting life to be a non-offensive and non-challenging is toxic and I’m glad to know that people like you are saying something about it. People like you should be contributing to the human zeitgest as a counterpoint to the “Victim Culture” that is on the rise in the US and the world at large. I sincerely hope you’re successful in getting this word out. You, more than any other “Tumblrina” out there crying over perceived slights, deserve a much needed #Signal Boost.

    Thank you for writing this. Keep fighting the good fight.

  37. You mentioned a professor “shook” a student’s arm, then you refer to it as “gently touching a student’s arm.” Those are not the same things at all. “Shook,” no matter how gently he “shook” it, is not the same thing as “touched.” Shaking involves grabbing someone’s arm and moving it against their will, not simply resting one’s hand on someone’s arm.
    I will continue to post trigger warnings on all of my writings, when it is appropriate and I think of it, because I think it’s a real jerk move to not at least warn people what you’re going to talk about. If they don’t want to think or read about something, they should have the option of knowing what they’re about to read about, and choosing for themselves.
    I also think it’s none of anyone’s business what race (or sex) someone else is, unless they choose to talk about it. Unless you work for the Census Bureau, asking “What are you?” is fucking rude, and it doesn’t matter what people “are” anyway.
    No, we can’t dictate what other people do or how they act, but we can certainly talk about it. How else is society going to learn anything? All the social progress we have ever made comes from talking about our experiences and our problems.
    You do make a very good point in that people should try to deal with their pain, however it also seems wrapped up in a knee-jerk, childish “Don’t tell me what to do!” response. People who respond to suggestions for how to treat others better by thinking that people are trying to boss them around don’t get it.
    Yes, you have a “right” to say whatever you want, but that doesn’t make whatever you say right. There are still social consequences for acting like a jerk, even if you don’t mean it in a jerky way.
    I would suggest, instead of instinctively saying, “Don’t tell me what to do,” that you consider people’s points, try to look at it from their point of view for a moment, and then decide if you will go along with their suggestion or request, or not.
    I’m not trying to tell you what to do, it’s just a friendly suggestion (I would say don’t worry, but then you might think I’m trying to tell you what to do; maybe I should have put a trigger warning for people who think making a suggestion is me being a bossypants).

  38. I agree with the sentiment wholeheartedly! People need to deal with their problems for themselves, and it’s important for everyone to expect from themselves and others a certain amount of strength in the face of adversity.
    That said, this article confuses two distinct concepts in order to call their legitimacy into question, in one big straw man argument.
    Trigger warnings, such as they are, are simply disclaimers allowing people to avoid exposure to things that might remind them of past traumas. These traumas were originally restricted to things like physical or sexual abuse, which can rival the harsh realities of war in terms of psychological impact. I base that on the potential for causing PTSD, which includes as part of its definition the fact of trauma. I agree that trigger warnings are now often applied in places where they’re not necessary, but I’ve never heard anyone demand trigger warnings from someone else. They’re just a courtesy put forth by people trying to be nice (and I agree that they might be enabling others who are trying to avoid their pain instead of dealing with it, but PTSD is no joke, as I hope you’d agree).
    Microaggressions are behaviors that cause anything from minor annoyance to severe aggravation, but not “trauma,” as you claim here. No one I know has ever claimed that microaggressions were traumatic, just that they felt like evidence of ignorance or prejudicial beliefs. If you lived in a place where people tried to touch your hair every day or asked you if you ate “potatoes for, like, every meal, or just most meals?” I’d be surprised if it didn’t get on your nerves at some point. Again, not traumatic, but annoying evidence of ignorance.
    I’m sorry if I worded this too contentiously to be helpful to anyone–I’m working on being more diplomatic and helpful when I speak with groups I disagree with, but I’m not there yet. Thanks for your time!


  1. 1 Breaking Through: “Microaggressions,” “Trigger Warnings,” and the New Meaning of “Trauma” • The Havok Journal
  2. 2 A tough love approach to dealing with “microaggression” trauma « Quotulatiousness
  3. 3 Charlie Hebdo and Precious Snowflakes | Tipsy Teetotaler
  4. 4 ”Microagresiunile”, ”Trigger warnings” și noul înțeles al noțiunii de ”traumă”
  5. 5 Using a Trigger Warning — what of it??? | Inexorable Progress
  6. 6 Trigger Warnings | Adventures Fantastic
  7. 7 ‘Microaggressions’ And ‘Trigger Warnings,’ Meet Real Trauma
  8. 8 ‘Microaggressions’ And ‘Trigger Warnings,’ Meet Real Trauma & F**k your trauma | WARRIOR CAPITALIST
  9. 9 Facebook Doesn't Want You To Read This Article
  10. 10 ‘Microaggressions’ And ‘Trigger Warnings ’ Meet Real Trauma… | Honor Dads
  11. 11 …the New Meaning of “Trauma” | Reblog | William & Associates Consultant Services
  12. 12 1p – “Microaggressions”, “Trigger Warnings”, and the New Meaning of “Trauma” | Profit Goals

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