Feminist Website: 'Trigger' in 'Trigger Warning' is Triggering

ashley.rae | June 10, 2015
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In a primer on the topic of “triggering," the website "Everyday Feminism" cautions against the use of the word “trigger” in the phrase “trigger warning” since the word “trigger” can be triggering.

In a caveat at the beginning of the piece titled, “Not Sure What People Mean By ‘Triggering?' This Article Is Your One-Stop 101," Everyday Feminism writes:

"Editors Note: Like this phenomenal article, Everyday Feminism definitely believes in giving people a heads up about material that might provoke our reader’s trauma. However, we use the phrase 'content warning' instead of 'trigger warning,' as the word 'trigger' relies on and evokes violent weaponry imagery. This could be re-traumatizing for folks who have suffered military, police, and other forms of violence. So, while warnings are so necessary and the points in this article are right on, we strongly encourage the term 'content warning' instead of 'trigger warning.'

The content of the article is a repost of material originally published on the website "The Body is not an Apology," but with one "major" tweak, at least in their eyes.

The original text at The Body is Not an Apology begins,

"Trigger Warning: This article discusses triggering in detail and mentions common topics of triggering (sexual assault, anxiety, health anxiety, depression, death, non-specific fears and phobias)."

The editors at Everyday Feminism replaced the original phrase "Trigger Warning" with the phrase “Content Warning" to preface their text.

Their version reads,

"Content Warning: This article discusses triggering in detail and mentions common topics of triggering (sexual assault, anxiety, health anxiety, depression, death, non-specific fears and phobias)."

Ironically, as the title suggests, the rest of the article on Everyday Feminism goes on to explain the importance of recognizing triggers and utilizing trigger warnings.

In the article, the word "trigger" is used 11 times - including three times in the editor's note explaining why the word "trigger" shouldn't be used when talking about triggers. The word "trigger" appears in a variety of forms - including "trigger," "triggering," "triggers, and "triggered" - a total of 62 times throughout the piece.

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