Hello beautiful people around the world! It’s the first of the month and that means another bit of our blogging world gets discussed.
A quick word regarding Blogger Bits, for those who’ve been living under a rock for the past couple months (lol, delusions of grandeur, here you are), a small group of blogger decided to pick two topics concerning the book world and discuss the hell out of them in different posts, and then commenting on each other’s posts twice a month.
I find today’s topic incredibly current and interesting because everybody has such different opinions.
And since this is my very personal space of free self expression and yada, yada, yada, I’ll be expressing my take on the matter.
So, first self-question. Do I think it’s right to have trigger warnings in books?
I think so.
Now, you’ll be asking, “why?”
Isn’t it true that when a person picks a dark romance, they know they won’t be getting a small-town fairy tale in which the two highschool sweethearts rekindle their pure love amid hot cocoa tasting and snow-angel making? (Jeez, that was a long winded sentence!) Again, it is true that people who read and love dark romance know what they’re getting into, and I myself enjoy the darker side of love every once in a while.
The thing is that some people may enjoy dark romances, and still be very negatively affected by some triggers. For example, someone may not twitch at the word ‘incest’, but ‘rape’ could be a sensitive topic for them. Should they stop reading dark romances altogether in fear of stumbling upon something that could cause them emotional stress?
I don’t think so.
Another issue arises, though.
Aren’t trigger warnings basically spoiling most of the plot twists?
Yep, they are. The whole plot is barely summarized in those few lines more efficiently than in the blurb itself. Most authors just list triggers after the blurb, so close to it that, in fact, it’s almost impossible to avoid them.
That I don’t like.
Since I’m personally not offended or negatively affected by any of the topics in dark romances, I certainly do not like them to be laid out like that. Where’s the excitement in that? When I dive into a book, especially in this genre, I want to go in blind. I don’t care if the main heroine turns into a bird every fortnight and they have weird, volatile sex. I don’t care if people kill each other out of petty jealousy and then eat the bodies to spite the dead. I don’t even care that mental issues are described with the same accuracy of a comic strip.
It’s a book. It’s fiction. I’m not expecting a true portrait of reality. And I want to enjoy the whole ride without having to wonder when that trigger will make itself patent in the narration.
So how to combine these two things?
How to make sure that people who love dark romance but can’t stand a certain topic/s are still able to enjoy it, but also let those who want to go in blind have their fix of unspoilered bliss?
Honestly, I think there’s a very quick solution and I don’t know why no one has suggested it. Or maybe they (GR and Amazon and all the usual suspects) ARE bound to let everyone know what’s in the book. I don’t know.
But anyway, my suggestion is to TREAT TRIGGER WARNINGS EXACTLY LIKE SPOILERS. Instead of listing them smackdab under the plot, just add a button stating “trigger warnings.” If you want to read them, if you want to be 100% safe that it won’t trigger anything in you, then go ahead, click on it. If you want to stay in the dark, don’t click on it.
And if you don’t want to read them but you’re compulsively forced to click on it because you can’t resister the jedi-mind trick exercised by a clickable button… well that’s on you and your pre-frontal cortex. No one else.
Another related topic is: what constitutes a trigger? What should be included in “The List”?
I mean, if you go ask a little guy named Alfred, there’s nothing scarier than bunnies. So, should we include every single element of the book in the trigger warnings, just in case someone had a bad allergic reaction to carrots in third grade and is still emotionally scarred by it (just to stay coherent to the bunnies theme)?
I don’t think so. I believe that using common sense in this case would be advisable. Lots of people have weird reactions to lots of equally weird objects, situations, and stuff. I mean, I didn’t like cucumbers before reading “This Is War, Baby” and certainly haven’t developed a sudden love for them, but cucumber’s misuse shouldn’t still make the trigger warnings list, in my opinion.
There are some topics that, universally, are considered disturbing, and this coming from a girl who spent last night eating Doritos while listening to Jeffrey Dahmer’s interview regarding cannibalism. It doesn’t matter if I’m not affected by them. Other people are, and I think we should respect the fact that not everyone is equipped with a twisted mind or a thick skin that allows to let the fictional side of it slide and not blend with the reality. We should also consider that everyone has a different past and different experiences. Thanks to my own experiences, for example, I love romances involving stalking stories (not the hero stalking the heroine, but some creepy dude that gets his shit beaten out of him in the end, just to clarify) and find them empowering. But maybe, had things gone differently in my past, I would now avoid them altogether. We’ll never know.
One last thing, just so that I can lose a couple more followers, if my opinion so far hasn’t done the trick. I’d like to address a very peculiar case of a book getting banned from Amazon, around a month ago… was it even a month?
Anyway, the issue in that case WAS NOT the lack of a more specific trigger warning, which was already VERY SPECIFIC, and I’m quoting here:
The Wild is an extremely taboo story. Most will find that the themes in this book will make you incredibly uncomfortable. This book is only for the brave, the open-minded, and the ones who crave love in even the most dismal of situations. Extreme sexual themes and violence in certain scenes, which could trigger emotional distress, are found in this story. If you are sensitive to heavy taboo themes, then this story is not for you.
Also, if you know the author, you know she won’t be writing about effing unicorns. But anyway, even if this was your first book by her, a trigger warning like this should cue you in about the level of darkness of it. I don’t even think it needs to be more specific since this author likes to mix the twistedness together and there’s usually more than just one disturbing scene.
That being said, it wasn’t the fact that she didn’t mention what the taboo exactly was that got it banned, but the mere fact that when you publish on Amazon, you need to follow their guidelines, and apparently this book didn’t fit the guidelines.
Honestly, I’m wondering how all of that horror-erotica present on Amazon is still up there and hasn’t been banned, but maybe those authors have been smarter about finding ways to go around the guidelines.
On the topic of whether Amazon should be able to ban books for their topics, especially when they’re marked “fiction”, I’m torn.
On the one hand, it’s their platform. It’s like their shop, in which other people showcase their product. Their shop, their rules. I can understand how such a big company would like to cover their derriere from lawsuits and such regarding illegal and highly amoral (at least according to the majority of societies) situation, even if fictional.
On the other hand, this is effectively putting a limit to self-expression. So I do believe that, allowing trigger warnings on their books’ pages, they should let anyone publish whatever they wanted, aside from nazi propaganda and the usual big no-nos.
I don’t know. As I said, I’m still confused on that one.
What are your thoughts on the issue?
And don’t forget to read also what my blogger friends thought of this topic: