Douchebag Decree: Oh, Susannah Breslin...
Susannah Breslin reared her post-feminist head again when she published a post explaining her "discovery" of trigger warnings on feminist blogs, subsequently dismissing them as "if you are EASILY UPSET, if you see a TRIGGER WARNING coming, you can look away REALLY FAST, or click elsewhere, so you won't, you know, FREAK THE F*CK OUT." If you'd like more of her insensitive BS, it's a quick, thoughtless read.
Not surprisingly, reactions came quickly, from
We will go on with our man-hating selves, and you, S, can go on harping on the feminists who type two words in a tiny effort to make life a little bit easier on sexual assault survivors (you know, those people who are "easily upset" and might "freak the fuck out"). Definitely keep using your platform to focus on the really good and important stuff, like telling rape survivors to quit being such whiney titty-babies. I think Gandhi said that once.
We provide trigger warnings because we know that 1 out of every 6 women and 1 out of every 10 men is a survivor of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault, many of them having survived multiple sexual assaults, and just because the larger culture doesn't acknowledge the existence of this vast population of people doesn't mean we don't have to.
One hopes you will take this information on board and reconsider whether it's not that the ladies of Feministing and their readership are, in fact, too sensitive, but perhaps it's that you were simply not sensitive enough. Because, I gotta be honest, I'm pretty sure I could make a decent case that ridiculing a feminist site for being thoughtful to survivors is evidence of not being sensitive enough with two hands tied behind my back.
Actually, I don't think she missed them at all. My guess is that Breslin knows exactly what trigger warnings are, but was intellectually dishonest about it so she could have the opportunity to make fun of feminists as irrational knee-jerks rather than come clean about trigger warnings' real purpose: to help lessen the pain that sexual assault and trauma victims have gone through.
Breslin then responded to the just backlash with a second post explaining "Why trigger warnings don't work" (having obviously become an expert on them since half an hour of research several days prior), concluding that "trigger warnings crystallize everything that is wrong with the current state of the feminist movement."
As many of you probably know, this is only the latest attempt of Breslin to latch on to something on the internet and declare it the embodiment of a suffering feminist movement, never missing an opportunity to relate how shocked she is people still call themselves feminists. There was "Has Feminism Gone Too Far?" questioning Jezebel's critique of a GAP ad (Sady Doyle answered hat one). Or the infamous "Yes Virginia, Feminism really is dead," trounced by Kelsey here, and my personal favorite Breslinism, a description of Feminism regarding the critique of a Ms. magazine cover: "Feminism lies like a beached octopus, tentacles thrashing in all directions, looking for anything upon which it may find purchase, desperately seeking to be relevant again." ("I mean really")
This is what feminism looks like!
I have to agree with Vanessa at Feministing, Breslin's recent and lazy critique of trigger warnings is just her playing dumb, the admittedly ill-researched but provoking posts smack of the Sexist Media Stunt. But beyond the inflammatory and oddly-concluded content of the articles, Breslin's posts fail and flop for another reason. The second post on trigger warnings hardly makes a lick of sense (to wit: "Ergo, the trigger warning is its own trigger."), especially by placing a cover of the Feminine Mystique to go with it, and Breslin's lack of coherency is because she's finally run right into the feminism she has consistently dismissed as nonexistent (who's sending you the hate mail for Pete's sake?).
Never choosing to look at the reasoning behind critiquing pop culture, her arguments thus far have centered around "Haven't you seen Tool Academy? It hurts men! And therefore feminism is irrelevant!" (actually a Breslin argument!) But when bringing in sexual assault issues, she has no solid ground to stand on. Trigger warnings are the cyber version of a safe space, and center around a central tenant of feminism--choice. They're not used to further sensationalize a graphic description (as if feminist blogs write about rape because we think it improves our ratings in the male 18-34 category), but a two-word announcement for people to choose to read on or pass over depending on their preference, a choice that isn't always granted when mainstream coverage of news features unbridled graphic (if not pornographic) descriptions of sexual assault, or mis-genders someone who's trans, or details abuse of people with disabilities. Trigger warnings are not there to gloss over something traumatic or make it go away, they (again! two words! in a blog post!) take into account different people's experience when covering certain issues.
On her own blog, Breslin's responded to the just backlash with the following:
I've been proclaimed a certifiable asshole, willfully ignorant, an invalidator, cruel, mocking, Glenn Beck-esque, an "Internet tough guy," "Teabaggerian," basely ignorant and lacking in empathy, simple, "a fucking tool," "an unsophisticated thinker," worse than moronic, "dangerous," a crappy journalist, a poor googler, lacking in analytical skills, someone who can use my "melon as a hat rack," a troll, "disgusting," a "supercilious asshole," "warped," incapable of empathy, intellectually dishonest, a "Sister F***er," "purposely obtuse and beyond help," and "the kind of person who'd take [my] Vietnam-veteran granddad to see The Deer Hunter without warning him that it's not actually about hunting deer."
The zombie-feminists have spoken Susie, and you can add one more to the list: douchebag.
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