Monday, June 26, 2017
The Upstander

Stop Mocking Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings

Clementine Havemeyer February 20, 2017 Opinion Comments Off on Stop Mocking Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings
Embrace

Have you ever thought about why someone might need a safe space? Have you ever thought about why someone might need a trigger warning?

The truth is, we often do not think about why someone might need these things – until we need them ourselves.

People who need safe spaces typically come from homes, schools and workplaces where they have been marginalized, victimized, bullied or abused because of their gender, race, sexual orientation or gender identity. Day after day after day, their very existence is denied.

Likewise, people who need trigger warnings have often suffered great trauma, be it rape, domestic violence, physical assault, acts of terrorism or war. People who need trigger warnings generally want to avoid reliving the pain of the trauma that nearly destroyed them the first time around.

When I think about why someone might need a safe space or a trigger warning, my immediate response is profound empathy with their suffering. The last thing I think is that this topic is ripe for satire or mockery.

And yet, time and time again, I see people mocking trigger warnings and safe spaces as “political correctness gone mad!” But who exactly would find this funny? Rape victims? Men and women who have been subject to domestic violence? Victims of hate crimes? Transgender children – who are eight times more likely to commit suicide than their cisgender peers? Children are dying because they can’t live authentic lives. How exactly is that funny?

There’s something to be said about using humor to cope in hard times— but when did it become okay to make fun of the victims, the vulnerable, the defenseless, the traumatized?

Why not poke fun at Donald Trump’s transition team, who are currently reviewing funding for programs aimed at promoting gender equality, such as ending gender-based violence? Or why not write a joke about Senator Ted Cruz, who is trying to introduce a bill allowing discrimination against LGBTQIA Americans nationwide? Or ISIS, who continue to threaten our lives and liberty on a daily basis?

With all that is going on in the world, why are you taking time out of your day to satirize safe spaces?

I want to live in a world where we consider the needs of other people as much as we do our own. I want to live in a world where victims are protected by those in power, not mocked. Mostly, I want to live in a world that is safe.

And if that’s some big joke to you, then fine. But I’m not laughing.

 

Photo credit: Eric Kilby/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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