Warnings Wank In Bandom
arsenicjade, a popular bandom writer, posts a story to bandombigbang. It contains a scene that could be taken as dub-con, and a few people comment, politely asking her to add a warning. She explains equally politely that she didn't mean the scene to read as dub-con, but promptly adds a warning for consent issues. So far, so good, right?
nightengale comments, long after warnings have gone up. Her comments take three comments to write in full, and are a long, condescending, garbled explanation of why it's important to warn for consent issues (itself rather confusing, since no one was arguing that warnings weren't important). She begins by citing her 'authority': eight years in fandom and a B.A. in Creative Writing. Comments on the post are screened now, but her essay is screencapped here. Many people (including the people who had asked arsenicjade or warnings in the first place) comment to tell her how rude/inappropriate/bizarre her comments are.
The matter probably should have ended there, but megyal steps in. megyal has a friend, ficsoreal. Over a year ago, ficsoreal posted a story called A Lifetime Commitment in which Brendon Urie of Panic At The Disco runs as a frat pledge, and is drugged and then raped with the aid of a speculum. She posted it to her journal and to fic comms without any warnings, and when asked by many people to include them, refused on the grounds of artistic integrity:
"The story is meant to be jarring; you are supposed to be upset. That's not irresponsible; that was the point.I'm not here to hold anyone's hand."
A lot of the original discussion is in the comments to the fic, although she deleted a lot of dissenting comments, and more occurred here.
Anyway, megyal feels that ficsoreal was unjustifiably treated! And that what happened with arsenicjade was exactly the same situation (dub-con + prompt addition of warnings when asked = non-con + total refusal to add warnings, okay?). Clearly, the only reason for this disparity in people dogpiling nightengale on arsenicjade's behalf while getting angry at ficsoreal is because arsenicjade is a BNF while ficsoreal is not. megyal doesn't say so explicitly in her post, but ficsoreal promptly comments:
"Fandom has always played by two sets of rules, one for regular peeps and one for the popular peeps. This incident just shines a light on it."
Also from megyal's post, we learn that it's all about tone, you may only ask for warnings by PM in case you embarrass the authors, anyone who's worried about triggers should start an lj community listing fic with consent issues rather than expecting authors to do all the hard work of warning for them, and if people are triggered by something, they need to seek help if they can't handle reading fic, and really, still being triggered by trauma means you're not a strong enough person.
okubyo_kitsune then makes a post ostensibly defending arsenicjade, which is pretty much the definition of "get off my side, you're making it look stupid". This post offers up gems of advice like:
"I've had cancer, but I know very little about the actual disease. Also, omg! Nobody should ever write a cancer fic without warning for cancer because what if it TRIGGERS ME???? Or, like, a fic with strokes!!! I MIGHT STROKE AGAIN. IT WOULD BE TRAGIC." Yeah, it may be harsh, but it's the truth."
Another commenter, sekkritbandomlj adds another helpful derailment by listing her traumatic trigger associated with the colour orange, which is, of course, totally the same as a victim of assault being triggered by non-con in a fic. Also, she notes that triggers are really broad, so if we start warning for one that's as common and serious a trigger as rape, who knows what would happen next? "Alas! I was reading this lovely fic, and then someone bent over, and it triggered something! The fanart had a picture of an owl and I can't look at owls without hyperventilating! Woe."
impertinence then makes a long, extremely personal post, Sexual Assault, Triggering, and Warnings: An Essay, detailing her sexual assault and explaining how triggers work (note: Very explicit discussion of sexual assault and the nature, anatomy, cause & effect of triggers. Is itself triggery). She suggests that while it's impossible to warn for all triggers, rape should be warned for, since it's so common among women. Most commenters agree or are civil, until cynatnite shows up.
cynatnite starts off abrasively, considering that this is her response to another person's post about her sexual abuse, but fairly sanely:
"Readers should take responsibility for their reading decisions. If they don't like it...stop. Move on to something else. It's that simple. I refuse to be responsible for someone else's emotional issues."
An epic thread ensues, and she soon loses whatever civility she had; asking for warnings is 'bullshit' and emotional abuse, and everyone who disagrees with her is flaming. She also warns that by asking for warnings on rape, soon people will be warning for angry clowns and foot fetishes. Too much is being placed on writers, and too little responsibility being placed on readers! People with triggers have mental issues they need to see a therapist for, and they shouldn't be in fandom. Surely these people can click out of a post as soon as they hit a trigger, and suffer no ill effects? She knows how triggers work; she wrote a fanfic on someone with PTSD, and from this experience she is totally able to tell actual survivors of abuse what they're doing wrong.
Her friend mara_snh shows up to tell people that cynatnite is a good person, really, and everyone disagreeing with her just doesn't know her. Plus, warning for rape is like warning for bugs or or blue bowls; there are so many triggers it's unfair to expect people to warn for any! Tired of fighting, cynatnite comments to let everyone know that she's LEAVING THIS DISCUSSION.
Once metafandom picks up the post, the warnings discussion goes multifannish. zvi_likes_tv makes a post, letting everyone know that triggers are a personal responsibility, like allergic reactions, and if you read fic by authors you don't personally know, it's your own responsibility if you're triggered:
I don't quite see how this is different than if one is, say, allergic to citrus. If you buy a pre-packaged cake in the store, you have a reasonable expectation of being able to read the ingredients label and see that it does or does not contain a citrus ingredient. This is because, in the United States at least, commercial food products are required to list their ingredients by law. Of course, there are many food companies which don't wish to reveal their secret recipes, so they may just say natural ingredients instead of getting specific, and you, as a person with a citrus allergy, would know to stay clear because natural ingredients might be anything at all.
But if you're at a bake sale, and there's a delicious looking confection called boom cake, which doesn't have a description or a list of ingredients next to it, wouldn't you, as someone with a citrus allergy, ask the person doing the selling, "What's in a boom cake?" You might even go so far as to say, "I'm allergic to citrus, is why I'm asking." And if the person doing the selling didn't know, or if you didn't feel comfortable asking the person doing the selling because you're afraid they might mislead you through ignorance or malice, wouldn't you ask your unallergic friend who had bought boom cake if she thought it had citrus? Or, perhaps, buy the red velvet cake instead, since you know that red velvet cakes are chocolate and not citrus.
She also derails what had been a specific fandom conversation about warning for rape into a denounciation of warnings for things like cheating, 'et cetera'. Warning for rape is a slippery slope that leads into warning for ridiculous things!
In the comments to this post, impertinence and liviapenn get into an argument about warnings which I'm going to steal another commenter's summary of rather than summarise myself:
FAN 1 says, "Privilege: you're soaking in it."
FAN 2 says, "WHY ARE YOU ACCUSING ME OF A CONSPIRACY TO HURT YOU PEOPLE?! THERE IS NO CONSPIRACY!! YOU ALL ARE JUST TOO DAMN SENSITIVE! YOU ARE HARSHING MY SQUEE GODDAMMIT!!"
Also, it's appropriatory to talk about 'derailing' or 'privilege' if you're a rape victim rather than a POC.
Triggers: serious business. Unless they're the same as red velvet cake, vicious attacks by telephone cords, or the color orange.
lcsbanana posts a round-up of links to all of the worst statements on impertinence's and zvi_likes_tv's posts.
queenofhell makes a post listing all of the common fallacious arguments smacked down during Racefail that have now been used during this argument, even by the people smacking them down during Racefail.
mara_snh continues to argue on in cyantite's defence, using psychoanalystic babble to dissect impertinence's state of mind. Particularly in this delightful statement:
"I'm wondering if what we're seeing here is a form of free-floating rage. It's not uncommon for survivors of trauma to manifest this. They've never been able to confront their abuser and direct their anger toward him or her. They may also experience self-hatred; it may not be appropriate, but many victims of rape, especially, have been socially conditioned to accept some level of responsibility for the horrible thing that happened to them, and women carrying that awful baggage around with them might well hate themselves for it on some level.
All this externalization of blame seems to me a warping of the otherwise healthy process of letting go of any sense that they brought the abuse on themselves.
There's some pretty serious pathology going on here on a community-wide scale. I wish I understood more about it, or that I had access to the therapist I can no longer afford, to get a better handle on it."
aukestrel jumps on this thread and chimes in:
"I am saying that, having suffered trauma, the victim is elevated to a privileged rank because of that trauma - the privilege would not exist without the trauma... one might make a case for the "privilege of the victim" here."
She then makes another comment she later deletes, which impertinence has reposted for posterity:
Well, I don't quite know how to say this, but you weren't actually called a liar. According to what I read, two of those times you called yourself a liar because you were put in the unworkable position of having to figure out that pleasing your mother was what your survival depended on. You weren't called a liar when it first came up; you made a choice to survive and retracted your original statement. You went to your mom, she asked you in front of your abuser if you were lying, and then you *understandably* said you were. But she didn't call you a liar until (I assume) *after* the fact according to the timeline you supplied.
Do you see why I am questioning this? You seem to look for the negative in any situation and to paint yourself as more of a victim (if you could be) than you already are. I found mara_snh's insights very helpful on that front.
And as you show in your last paragraph, you know very well where the (false) claim of "privilege" could be said to elide. I'm not saying it *does*. But in the original comment, which was an outstanding use of hyperbole, when the privilege comparison was made, it seemed to me - given the way your bandwagon jumped on one person who disagreed with you in a dehumanising and unsettling fashion - that actually one *could* argue there was a weird kind of reverse privilege obtaining. If one wanted to. Which I do not.
Just like cyatnite, I'm not a troll. I've been around fandom for 10 years. (And I do use warnings and have advocated for them in the past.) But I am one of those very few people in fandom who can follow a logic chain for more than three steps.
The people who are shouting your rights from the treetops and using your pain and abuse to excuse and justify the oppression and verbal abuse of another WOMAN could turn around tomorrow and do the same to you if they disagree with you. And that is WRONG. If you, as a human, demand to be treated with compassion and respect then you have a moral obligation - no matter how much or how often someone disagrees with you - to treat others with compassion and respect. (It is clear - meaning no disrespect - that this behaviour was NOT modeled for you as a child and that it is something you are having to learn.) Allowing, encouraging, and even participating in the disrespect and oppression will not help you and will probably harm you emotionally. So if you cannot deal with people with compassion and respect - including me! - then you get yourself out of the situation. Just go away. But don't harm yourself any further."
This is, of course, the same aukestrel who argued that all RayV/RayK fics and recs of fics in Due South had to be clearly labelled so as not to cause her trauma by subjecting her to a pairing she loathed, now arguing that asking for warnings for rape is privileged and 'oppressing and verbally abusing another woman', in the comments of a post by a young rape survivor detailing her sexual abuse.
mara_snh retreats to her own lj to be assured by her friends that she is the real victim here, and posts about how impertinence's 'frustrating behaviour' in asking for warnings "curiously mirrors the ambiguous threats her (impertinence's) stepfather subjected her to". Also from her journal: "It's just a dialog between two sides of the 'must stories have warnings' dialog. This time the sides were taken, respectively, by professional victims and irritated writers"; "I swear, there is nothing more vicious than professional victims"; more free analysis of impertinence's mental health; and cynatnite claiming she felt "like a Dem in a room full of Sarah Palins," or a Christian being fed to lions. Another of mara_snh's friends shares her own reaction to the request for rape warnings: "*WAAAA!* Grow up little, fangirl. Other people don't exist to sooth your hurt feelings. You almost sound like an adult but you're not quite there yet. Fandom is for play. Therapy is for you to work on removing your triggers."
Not content with that, mara_snh posts again, this time to observe that RPS is a totally inappropriate fandom for rape survivors: "ps: Does it strike anyone but me as kind of odd that rape survivors would get off on RPS, which is, like, one of the most invasive and disrespectful things you can do to a celebrity without actually stalking them in person?"
(This 'RPS is violation' argument is particularly hilarious given that impertinence is in bandom, where the musicians being slashed frequently comment on fic, reference it in interviews or give dramatic readings of it, all while appearing to find it hilarious. One guy apparently even designed a t-shirt for his favorite lj community).
aukestrel posts to her lj about Muchausen's via internet. Deleted! Screencap here thanks to glossing2.
ETA 3: zvi_likes_tv has frozen all comments on her post, and has made two further posts, both of them with comments turned off:
Rape victims don't suffer a lack of privilege as they are not an involuntary group: "The use of the word "privilege" with the categories "reader" and "writer" doesn't make sense. Privilege is talking about systemic advantages accorded to one group of people over another group of people, where membership in either group is either involuntary, a source of a stable sense of identity, e.g. race, religion, gender, health status, age, class."
The second post effectively shuts down all further discussion: "You do not have my permission to comment on any of my dreamwidth entries on these issues, you do not have permission to private message me on these issues, you do not have permission to e-mail me on these issues, you do not have permission to speak to me in chat about these issues, you do not have permission to talk me on the phone or in person about these issues, you do not have permission to send me physical mail about these issues."
cynatnite has deleted all of her comments to impertinence; some of them have been archived in lcsbanana's post, but if you have screencaps, link them.
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