Censorship and Trigger Warnings

Our first day discussing Fun Home centered more on how we should treat censorship, book banning, and all that jazz. Many of my classmates seemed to think we need a rating system for books like we have for movies, the concern being that children will be exposed to more sexually graphic material before they are mature enough. I think that maturity is something that is hard to gauge. Age is the closest thing we have to ranking maturity. However, everyone is learning at a different pace, which makes it difficult to assign a rating to something. Also, by giving something a rating we are implying that there is something dirty or shameful about the content. Not just in Western culture, but more so in American culture, we tend to be very touchy when it comes to talking about sex. We act as though no one is supposed to know about it until they themselves reach sexual maturity. It is silly that we try so hard to shelter our children from texts and images that show the audience sexuality. The main argument I have heard is that children are too young to understand; therefore, they should not be exposed to it. This makes no sense to me. If a child is too young to understand, then the sexual references and innuendos will be over their heads. If a child does catch it though and understand that there is something going on that they don’t fully understand, then this should be an indicator that they are mature enough to have it explained to them. If they are old enough to ask questions, then they are old enough to get the honest answers. We base our ideas of censorship and ratings not on what audience is mature enough for it, but on how comfortable we are with explaining it. In cases where it is based on religious/political beliefs rather than maturity, people have suggested that we put trigger warnings on potentially controversial books. Trigger warnings were started with good intentions, but have gotten out of hand. They have gotten to the point that we are shelter ourselves from feeling even the slightest bit of discomfort. If we continue to do this, we will only be narrowing the experiences we have. We are closing our minds to anything that doesn’t fit with mainstream ideas. How is society supposed to adapt and change if we refuse to let ourselves feel any sort of discomfort or challenge? People will never read anything that doesn’t already agree with their own beliefs. Education and reading is meant to be a mind opening experience. What is the point of perusing an education if we refuse to read anything that challenges our own ideas?

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