Okay. Label me a heartless bastard if you must, but no, I am not a fan of trigger warnings and I don't intend to use them, with possible exceptions.
But, Jim, what about-?
Not all that long ago, and you might even remember this one, kiddies, a college campus decided to have a guest lecturer on sexual assault on campus because, sadly, that's still a thing. It happens, much as I wish it didn't. How much do I wish it didn't? Ive lost a few guy friends because they had trouble with my believe that ay man who uses his tool for violence should have it removed. yes, I mean castration. No, I don't mean with chemicals. Cut the offending member away and take the testicles while you're at it. "What if they want to have kids?" They should NEVER have kids. That's potentially more victims.
Sorry, back to my point.
Attendance at this seminar was not necessary. However, a few of the students who I am sure had the best intentions, made it so clear that the very notion of having a lecturer on the campus would trigger them and others, of having the word on paper, folks. The phrase "sexual assault" was so damaging to them, that, as adults, they would need a room provided for them where they could offer bubble blow, soft music, pillows and snacks during the time that the actual lecturer would be on campus.
The University agreed to all of this and provided a room. I am not certain if they footed the bill for the bubble blow. No clue.
I am certain, that, in my eyes, the notion was ludicrous. Not because I don't believe people suffer from trauma, but because we're talking about ADULTS here. Ten year old kids? By all means Grown adults who are going to university to ensure they will make a good living? No. Adults who can, in some cases, drink legally and vote? No. That's what my dear old mother would have called "Molly-Coddling."
I do not believe that you help ANYONE when you offer that level of protection from the real world. What you are inviting is trauma after trauma.
I knew a man who was, to be kind, rather spoiled while he was growing up., His parents did not correct his bad actions and as a result of that he failed to have much of an edit button. Once upon a time while in a public bar, he decided to get into an exchange with someone who was just as intoxicated and not as willing to overlook nasty comments. I believe it was eighty-seven stitches to put his face back together. His lack of an edit button, or understanding that words could have consequences did him no good. Even after that he tended to fire with his mouth worry about whether or not he could back it up later
No lessons learned.
Listen. I see a ten year old picking up a few of my books. (only a few) I'll be the first to say "That's maybe not for you and we should have your mom or dad okay it first." There are a few of my books that, frankly, have dark subject matter. I'll point to SMILE NO MORE as an example of serious, hardcore violence. I'll be the first to say that BLOOD RED deals with subject matter that might very well qualify as "Iffy" (One of the main characters is a high end call girl and has to deal with being in the sex industry and with the fact that some people are reprehensible.) and in both cases, without a parent's okay, after I've explained the content, I simply would not allow a kid under 14 or so to buy the books and even then I'd be dubious.
Some books are simply not meant for kids.
Now, maybe I'm wrong, but after 18, you are on your own. I write Horror and I write Dark Fantasy, and I write Science Fiction that sometimes has an apocalyptic edge. My covers are not often subtle and they say a lot about the subject matter at hand without a word being spoken. If someone wants a rating, I can follow the movie ratings guidelines with the best of them.
I don't do trigger warnings. The possible exception? Rape. Why only possible? Because while the subject has come up in my books before and might come up again, it's a subject I handle delicately. i mention an even has happened, I most assuredly do not get into graphic detail. I have never aimed to titillate with a rape sequence, because to me it's not about sex, it's about violence. And, frankly, it's a subject ai do't consider as taboo, but it's also not something I try to use as a meth0d of pushing my stories forward. I write escapist fiction. Why would I want to add in something that I KNOW will make a good percentage of the population uncomfortable?
That said, I am a HUGE proponent of the First Amendment of these United States. freedom of speech. I believe that the only censorship should come from the author and then the author can deal with the consequences of their wordly actions.
If I'm writing a story about werewolves, it's likely to get gory. If I'm writing about seductive vampires, there might be a sex scene, however brief. If I have a character who works as a high end hooker, she might have to deal with attempted rape or physical abuse. these things are, unfortunately, a part of an industry that is not monitored well in this country and one where the lack of regulations means that those trading in the business often deal with the darker aspects of their chosen field. All of that said, I write dark stuff.
Clive Barker once said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Horror is the last bastion of the taboo in fiction. It's where chauvinists still exist and the politically correct is seldom seen. It's the place where women can still be victims." I would only correct that to say it's where PEOPLE are victims. It comes with the territory. As I have said before and likely will again, I am an equal opportunity destroyer. I have no problem killing anyone or anything in my works. Because, as I have also said, I believe the best place for violence is in a book or in a movie. I'd rather it never show up in the real world.
And I believe that as a result of what I write, people should expect triggers. If they can't handle them, don't buy my work ad stay away from the horror genre entirely.
Put another way: I know a LOT of people are terrified of clowns. Can't stand them. Yet, here I go, writing several books and short stories revolving around Rufo the Clown, who happens to be a dead, psychotic monster. MENTION clowns to a few people I know and you can watch them start trying to find the escape hatch. SHOW them a clown and you can see the fear in their eyes. Here's the cover to my next book. It has a clown on the cover. There are clowns in two of the stories. The cover is your only warning.