First off, thanks for coming out to our first couple shows of the season. They have, I think, been worth your time and have made my September.
We’re making a slight change to our reader bios, and you will see this change beginning with the next show’s listing. Essentially, we are inviting our readers to list out any content in their work that audience members might, depending on their personal experience or history, find traumatic or triggering. This is being done after requests from audience members and represents what, we think, is a useful move towards building the best and most welcoming version of the series.
I want to make a couple elements of this new move clear:
- Declarations of Trigger Warnings are being made voluntarily by the readers. It isn’t mandatory that they fill out the webform we created. If they want to ignore it, they can, and will still be welcomed to read and will still get paid. This means something important for anyone who scans our listings looking for personal triggers, which is that just because you don’t see a trigger listed, I can’t promise you it won’t be a part of a reader’s set. On the website and Facebook page, readers who submit blank forms indicating no triggering content will not be discernible from readers who refuse to participate in the program. This is, for now, a middle ground we’ve come up with to try and support our audience and make our readers comfortable, at the same time.
- The list of possible triggers we consider is very short, and focused on traumatic personal experiences like rape, abuse, and racist/sexist/ableist speech. We are open, hypothetically, to including more (phobias, etc) but are concerned about the list becoming unwieldy or the breadth of triggerable content drifting past the key concerns that lead to the initial adoption of this program. In the interest of transparency, the form we sent to our readers for our 7/10 show, and the guide we included for their assistance, is captured below these points.
- We are very much interested in your feedback on this, as an audience member, a reader, or a member of the community. We’re considering the move a trial one for now and will re-evaluate after our Fall, 2015 programming. Maybe you think Trigger Warnings as an idea are an affront to creativity, and contrary to the values something like Pivot should strive towards. Maybe you think that this kind of half-measure we’re attempting isn’t useful and our adoption needs to be more absolute. Please just read the guide and form below first, and let us know about how you feel using either our email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the anonymous feedback form located here. Or the comment section of the blog or Pivot’s Facebook Page or my Facebook page or you could call or text us, etc etc etc. For the feedback form, just take Question 3 as your cue to talk about the TW Program.
Voluntary Trigger Warning Disclosure
Pivot is launching a voluntary trigger warning disclosure system for its readers. We are running it as a test for now, and will evaluate whether to keep it up in the months ahead.
What’s a Trigger Warning?
A Trigger Warning is a way for a reader to tactfully identify any content in their reading that might make for a particularly unpleasant experience for a given listener based on some element of that listener’s past experience. Here’s a good resource that explores TWs in more detail.
If My Reading Makes Mention of Something on the List Below, Does this Inherently Mean I Should Leave a Trigger Warning?
Pivot’s opinion here is, no. A reading that mentions, say, sexual abuse in some passing way shouldn’t be tagged under the Sexual Abuse warning. What we are looking for are explicitness or prolonged discussions. Your reading needs to spend some time with the material in question to need a TW. If you are on the fence about a Trigger Warning, we’d suggest checking it off.
What If I Don’t Have Any TWs?
Don’t worry about it. We suspect many readings won’t. Just submit it with your name filled in and nothing checked.
What If I Don’t Want to Fill this In Because I think Trigger Warnings are Stupid?
We hear you. It’s not mandatory and we won’t identify your refusal in any way. Readers who don’t submit a disclosure form and readers who do, but don’t identify any TWs, will look the same on the website. But, between you and me and this form: I think that you’re wrong, and that you are experiencing a very unwriterly failure of empathy. Pivot’s opinion is that Trigger Warnings aren’t baubles for the infantilized, they are support kits for survivors.
Where Will the Trigger Warnings be Seen/Announced?
Trigger Warning won’t be announced from the stage, and we would recommend not identifying them before your readings. They will be made available to our audience via our website for review by anyone who needs them.
Should I Edit My Reading to Avoid Triggering Materials?
You should most definitely NOT do this. We want a reading series that traffics in the difficult, and you should not look at this form as a cue to self-censor. Assume that survivors have accumulated a basal amount of self-regulation, and will be able to approach your reading on its own merits, if they know in advance what to expect.
When Should I Fill This In?
As soon as you can. I’d like to have the TWs available when we post the website, typically two weeks before your reading
We would like you to identify anything from the list that’s likely to be discussed in your reading.