Trigger Art

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Feminists and transphobic conservatives have found common ground in attacking Lena Dunham after the publication of her memoir revealed that her seven-year-old self had been curious about her sister’s vagina. Dunham creates trigger art, explains Sarah Seltzer at Flavorwire, intentionally igniting sensitive subjects. The problem isn’t the art, but the reaction:

So why would we adopt a scorch-and-burn (yes, there’s a #DropDunham hashtag) approach when we could instead say, hey, this person’s art — which, as such, is not in any way the whole truth of her life in context — is really triggering? Labeling something triggering differs from labeling someone a toxic, never-touch-again abuser and joining (whether gleefully or with sorrowfully clasped hands) a misogynist, rape culture-denying smear campaign started by a transphobic bigot.


Ian MacAllen's fiction has appeared in 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, Joyland Magazine, and elsewhere and nonfiction has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, The Negatives, Electric Literature, Fiction Advocate, and elsewhere. He is the Deputy Editor of The Rumpus, holds an MA in English from Rutgers University, tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →