“life doesn’t have trigger warnings” — why does every anti-TW writer think this is such a freaking insightful and hilarious contribution?
I am a teacher because I want the world to be better. I am not interested in reproducing all the negative aspects of the rest of “real life” — whatever the fuck that is — in my classroom for the sake of reinforcing the status quo. I want my students to inherit a better world than the one I grew up in. I want them to know how to advocate for their emotional health better than their forebears did. I want to live in a world where people are allowed to have limits and feel free to ask for disability acommodations, and where different ways of living and processing information are not only tolerated, but celebrated and made room for. So who fucking cares if the rest of the world doesn’t have the TW’s I choose to provide. That world is a bad one. I want it to be better.
Respecting students when they ask for a small, harmless, easy to provide accommodations is not reinforcing their weakness, nor is it coddling them. That’s because sensitivity, self-awareness, and self-advocacy are not signs of weakness at all. They are signs of maturity and interdependence. Students today have access to language and social scripts for self-advocacy and accommodation that students in prior generations had no conception of. This allows a far broader swathe of humanity to go to(and stay in) college. This makes academia, and the “real world”, an intellectually richer place.
I am impressed by students who are willing to request TW’s. I admire their self-knowledge and self-respect. I know that if certain content is triggering for them, it likely is upsetting or bracing for someone else, too. I believe that, as consumers of an increasingly expensive commodified product, students have the right to give their professor feedback and request changes that will improve the quality of their educational experience.
I believe that a college education is an overly expensive commodified product that should not be seen as necessary, but is, and that student should therefore exercise their rights as consumers to better the product they receive. I believe that sensitive, kind, trigger-warning-requesting students are making the world a better place. I want to live in the kind of world they are working to create. So I help create that world in my classroom.
Besides, life does have trigger warnings sometimes. Like the content advisories before films or tv shows! Or when a doctor or nurse encourages you to look away before drawing your blood! Or when cop cars and fire trucks purposefully park in front of an especially grueling scene of an accident! These warnings, like TW’s, exist not because people are coddled emotional wrecks who cannot function without them. They exist because they are easy, considerate things to do that help accommodate very common human reactions. TW’s are an accessibility tool. They help students navigate the educational environment. Life doesn’t always have braille or wheelchair ramps or tutors or sign language interpreters, either. But life should. I’m not interested in denying my students a small consideration in hopes that it will toughen them up. It’s an asshole move to ignore a simple request for accessibility and accommodation. Actually it’s worse than assholish- it’s exclusionary and discriminatory.