This is not surprising, but is certainly very infuriating:
People concerned about liberal political correctness on college campuses have a powerful ally: President Obama.There's nothing I can say about the idea that trigger warnings, or the exclusion of certain triggering material, is "coddling" students, readers, or whomever that I haven't already said a dozen times before.
...[The President gave] his opinion about what's been called the "new political correctness" on college campuses:
It's not just sometimes folks who are mad that colleges are too liberal that have a problem. Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal, and maybe even agree with me on a bunch of issues, who sometimes aren't listening to the other side, and that's a problem too. I've heard some college campuses where they don't want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative or they don't want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women. I gotta tell you, I don't agree with that either. I don't agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view. I think you should be able to — anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with 'em. But you shouldn't silence them by saying, "You can't come because I'm too sensitive to hear what you have to say." That's not the way we learn either.The word Obama chose is telling. The idea that college students are demanding to be "coddled" comes up frequently in debates about how much colleges should accommodate requests from students for trigger warnings on syllabuses, for example, or how they should respond to criticisms of graduation speakers or even comedy shows. A recent Atlantic article on the phenomenon was headlined "The Coddling of the American Mind."
Relatedly, I loathe this idea that refusing to engage with people who hold a viewpoint that essentially or explicitly subverts one's humanity is asking to be "coddled." Asking to be safe in a learning or working environment is not the same thing as asking to be "coddled," and drawing a boundary around ideas and/or people with whom one engages is not being "too sensitive."
There is literally no "opinion" on my humanity, my autonomy, my agency, my body that I haven't heard a million times, and I don't feel obliged to listen to every jackass who wants to tell me that I am less than in order to demonstrate my own tolerance.
I couldn't be "protected from different points of view" about my humanity, my autonomy, my agency, my body no matter how hard I tried, because there is pervasive messaging in every aspect of the culture in which I live that conveys to me that people do not think I am fully human because I am a woman, because I want control of my reproduction, because I am fat, because I am a person with a disability. And any person from any marginalized population is in the same damn boat. We can't escape these "different points of view" even if we want.
None of us are required to engage with every oppressor in order to sufficiently prove that we aren't "too sensitive."
Refusing to engage is a response. Drawing a boundary is a response. And a legitimate one.
And it is hardly the stuff of meekness and weakness. It isn't what I write about in this space for which I receive the most vicious, aggressive, tenacious pushback. It's the stuff that I refuse to tolerate in my space. Nothing, but nothing, results in more harassment than drawing boundaries.
I know what's going to happen when I say "no." And I do it anyway.
That isn't evidence of being too sensitive and brittle and coddled to engage. That's evidence of the fact that I have engaged enough, and I'm not interested in that sort of engagement anymore.
Drawing a line is an act of strength, not weakness.