Placing the Safe on Safe-places: on the screening of Save the Place at Entzaubert 2012, part 2

Some ramdom thoughsts. by no particular order.

for a tentatively objecive descritpion on the incident at Entzaubert festival on the evening of the 3.8.2012 see my post here: "Placing safe on safe spaces". Comment moderation is enabled to avoid the usual internet spam, but I will publish everything which is not offtopic.

For those (like me) who think that "art" is anything which is created by human beings with some type of intention beyond a prurely funtional one, and feel unconfortable with the pomp and circunstance associated with the word "art", I will use the word stuff* instead


There is a difference between intention and interpretation. Actually I think what makes stuff* interesting is that it can tell several stories, have different symbols for different people.

There is a difference between intention and interpretation. Of course if you (as an artist) have a significant number of people seeing things in your work you did not want to depict, maybe you want to look again at your work.

There is a difference between depicting violence and promoting violence or appologising violence.

I will continue to commit to the queer safe places as defined originally many years ago: safe places actively free from violence and discrimination, through self reflection and social responsability. I dont believe that stopiing to address or depict violence is a part of this. Other wise we can erase all discussions on racism and discrimination.

It is definetely a good idea to be considerate and avoid retriggering or re-hurting trauma, pain, putting salt on wounds etc. It is a good idea to do this independent of any rules on trigger there might be, only based on the fact that we tendendially want to be considerate, correct, and put other people in a fluffy place and not in hell.

Age ratings,  objective descriptions of films/works and trigger warnings are probably some tools which if correctly used might help achieve the former. I like a couple of them more than others, and e.g. dont really believe in trigger warnings, rather prefering objective descriptions in order for me to choose to see it or not.

If you as artist are submitting a work to a venue, be sure to know what the policiy on triggers are, so that you can help them with a better description or eventually with trigger warnings: so that it doesnt backfire on you or the organizators.

If you are organize an event and you want to have a trigger warning policy, make it explicit so that people can decide if they want to submit their works at all, ad so that people who submit their works might have a chance to provide a good description for the elaboration of descriptions and evtl trigger warnings.
Independent of safe spaces, but specially for safe spaces it is a good idea that discussions that go beyond the personal level in general get moderated, with some usual rules: no personal attacks tolerated, no interrupting, time limit, everybody should have the opportunity to make a point or refute a point (within time limits).

there is a difference between protecting and nurturing victims and disembalancing the discussion by giving a weight, and giving different rules (like, the possibility to shout, interrupt, be aggressive) to a person who takes the role of a victim. 

It is possible to accomodate people with different needs. It is desirable to do this. Safe place or not. It is about how we want to live. We need to think how, and to make it happen. But we cant do this at the cost of aggressive behaviour, because this is sacrificing one ideal to achieve the same ideal.

One of things worring me in this discussion: it is creating an "anti censorship" reaction, where all arguments on being considerate and accomodating different needs are being overruled.

There is a difference between protecting victims or creating a safe space for victims, and making politics with this.

If you are indeed interested in doing somethign about people with trauma before instrumentalising it for politics, start by reading this:

starting a discussion about rape depiction in a spontaneous way where none was planned actually can and will trigger a lot of people who did not prepare for this and were not wishing to be confronted with this.

There are a lot of people with trauma. There are many triggers. It is probably worth mentioning if stuff* has violent content susceptible to re-enact pain and trauma. But you will never be able to cover all triggers. While I dont really believe in triggere warnings (rather believing in warnings about violent content), if you want to have trigger warnings dont assume you know everything about other people´s triggers, and try to formulate in a way that doesnt backfire: to you as organizer, to the stuff* makers and to your audience.

People with trauma need support. That doesnt entitle them, or anyone, to engage in aggressive or unacceptable behaviour.

There are interesting political things to be done on trauma. Trauma therapy is usually difficult to access to people with other discrimination issues: migrants, kinksters, polyamorous, left-political-scene.. either because some of those topics get pathologised, or addressed as "difficult" due to being so specific, leading to a refusal by the therapist. Might also be dependent of what type of health insurance you have.

I would personally would like to see more done about handling with trauma at a personal level- workshops, information events, talking rounds - in the queer scene. Are we aware? do we kow the symtoms of trauma? did we read about it? do we know how to deal with it? do we know the authorities who can help with that?

the politization of trauma is forcing many people to out themselves as traumatized, in order to be able to participate in a discussion where you get a different voice depending if you choose the victim side or not. Forcing or driving somebody or a group to out themselves is not safe nor desirable.

The word "victim" is manyfold, and complex. And to label someone as victim (or ally) doesnt make the argumentation above easier. Actually it makes it very problematic. I am aware of this as I wrote the previous 2 paragraphs. 
There is a difference between getting feedback, no matter how demolishing in its content - for which most stuff* makers are always thankful - and getting personally attacked, interrupted, silenced. 

Asking somebody who is behaving in an unreasonable way to calm now is not silencing a victim. No reasonable respectful discussion can take place while everybody is not back to their senses, victim or not.

An interesting ever-returning topic. Allies. And speaking in the name of others.

Don't discuss with a drunken person. Never, ever. Don´t.


1 comment:

  1. I've already written what i think of that so i allow me to reproduce the same comment i posted on fb.

    I got trigged by a film. I had a real bad moment, feeling in danger, calling for help (that i had, thanks a lot to Kay) but since i wasn't trigged on an usual trigger thema like rape, i assumed that no one could have guessed it would hurt me. And even if it had been about rape : if my feelings had led me to behave unrespectfully or violently with people around, i won't considere the fault is on the film-makers and i hope no one will think so (as some newspapers did about that killer and the dark knight).

    Here it's the same : when film-makers say they didn't want to show any rape and couldn't imagine someone will see a rape, the viewer who did have to admitt that nobody trampled on them boundaries (and people around also have to admitt it). Someone has been hurt and it's an accident.

    The non-accidental violence (that should have been avoided) starts when film-makers are told they meant to show a rape in a funny way and aren't believed about their own intentions, when people are pushed away from speaking about their work, when other issues are melt to the first overreaction and the consequences of a simple misunderstanding make people feel really bad more than one week later.

    Some small add-on :

    Since neither the film-makers, nor the organisators of the festival saw any rape, no one could have suggest to put a trigger-warning about this scene.

    Anyway, it wouldn't have needed a trigger-warning ; seen as a rape, the scene wouldn't be trigging but politically unacceptable (a rape shown as fun and as a legitim self-defence weapon).

    Then the warning only could have been "please notice that the lion eats someone, hence the screamings ; please don't associate so easily dildo and male desire : for us, a lion can get a dildo from a diy workshop and then eat someone without consideration for sexual issues".

    That sounds funny but i'm serious. Nothing else could have been done. Seems that some watchers needed such an explaination, but i wouldn't have given it before the film.

    So now what ? Many people have been hurt. Maybe some are even stained by words that have been used about their work. It's time to care about what happened to them, instead of messing around with "victims" of some need to feel and appear more preoccupated of politically correct than the others (my very personnal pov about how it all started).