Negotiating vulnerability in the trigger warning debates

A3 Book section, Chapters in research books

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Katariina Kyrölä
Editors: Anu Koivunen, Katariina Kyrölä, Ingrid Ryberg
Publication year: 2018
Publisher: Manchester University Press
Book title: The Power of Vulnerability. Mobilising affect in feminist, queer and anti-racist media cultures.
Start page: 29
End page: 50
ISBN: 978-1-5261-3309-0


The chapter maps out and examines online debates about trigger and content warnings in the late 2010s, asking how they negotiate vulnerability. Whose vulnerability comes to matter most in these debates, how, and for what aims? The chapter proposes that the figure of the trigger warning currently circulates most intensely in three contexts: first, in feminist discussion forums where the use of warnings is a desired, required and normalised practice; second, in the feminist, queer and anti-racist academic opposition to trigger warnings which emphasises the pedagogical value of discomfort; and third, in the circulation of trigger warnings in anti-feminist online spaces. Each of these contexts understands vulnerability in somewhat different but overlapping ways: as a standpoint that both prohibits and enables; as a necessity to life that must be embraced; and a paradoxical position where claims to power are made through claims of disempowerment. The chapter does not argue against or for trigger warnings but invites readers to re-evaluate their own stances and understand what is at stake in the opposing as well as defending arguments, depending on context.


Last updated on 2019-17-10 at 03:37