JJ Vincent thought long and hard before postinglinks to these stories. What would you have done?
October 8th was a pretty extraordinary day on The Good Men Project, with two stories about rape on the front page, both being widely read and shared. Titles: The Rapiest Email Ever Could Have Influenced Me and An Open Letter to the Rapey Frat Brother and the “How to Get Laid” Generation.
I read them both. I liked them both. I wanted to share them both. But I was faced with a dilemma. I’m wondering if you have ever faced this, and what you would do.
Social media is an incredible conduit for getting information out quickly to a lot of people who should be interested in it. If they are connected to you, it would follow that they have some investment in you and what you have to say. If they are close to you, there is probably a deeper relationship cultivated over time. You know more personal information about each one another, you share daily events, you’ve probably talked about your histories, good and bad.
I know, in person, most of my Facebook friends. And I know that at least X number of the women on it are survivors of sexual abuse or violence.
So what to do? I want to show these stories to them, but I know the language in them could be triggering. The writers are clearly, emphatically, anti-rape and the attitudes some men have surrounding it. They are taking a stand against treating women as objects. They are trying to make change. But I want to give survivors a heads up and therefore the educated choice to read or not.
But how do you talk about rape without talking about rape? How do you say what someone shouldn’t do without describing the actions that they shouldn’t do? How do you explain what’s not ok without explaining what’s not ok? And how do you share that with someone who might want to hear the solutions without being reminded of the problem?
My solution was a combined approach. I posted an intro to the story with a warning of potentially triggering material, and “risky” words censored – yes, censored – from the article title and summary.
I’m ordinarily very anti-censorship, allowing people to make their own decisions to read or watch what they want to. But I did not want to put the words “rapey” and “rapebait” in front of them, because even though there was a warning in the status update, the words were right there with it.
I’m forever wishing that my friends who post graphic childbirth pictures and stories with a picture attached would give a heads up, and I’m only grossed out by those.
When given the opportunity to share a hopeful but potentially triggering story, and the chance to remove up-front potential triggers, I chose to.
What would you have done?
—PhotoPicture Perfect Pose/Flickr
Author’s Note: In light of a comment I received, I would like to clarify my statement about Facebook friends. The X represents women on my friends list that I personally know to be survivors. There may be more that I don’t know about. I do not personally know that any of the men on my friends list are survivors. If I did, I would have listed that as well. -JV