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23 TRIGGER HAPPY The back of the book is your warning: Lacy Johnson was held prisoner in a soundproofed room in a basement apartment that her ex-boyfriend rented and outfitted for the sole purpose of raping and killing her. She escaped, but not unscathed . The Other Side is the haunting account of a first passionate and then abusive relationship, the events leading to Johnson’s kidnapping and imprisonment, her dramatic escape, and her hardfought struggle to recover. At once thrilling, terrifying, harrowing, and hopeful, The Other Side . . . [provokes] both troubling and timely questions about gender roles and the epidemic of violence against women. To: Lacy M. Johnson From: Chelsey Clammer May 20, 2014 12:22 p.m. Hi Lacy, First, a bit about me: I have my MA in women’s studies from Loyola University Chicago, my BA in English and feminist 24 | Chelsey Clammer studies from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas (a feminist studies degree from a cowtown in Texas? Yes. It exists. Go Texas.), and I am currently enrolled in the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program. Aside from all of that, I am a feminist (though I’m becoming less certain of that term) who has also been diagnosed with PTSD, an eating disorder and bipolar disorder, and I’m also a fabulously recovering alcoholic. I tell you all of this so you have a general idea of where I’m coming from. I just finished reading The Other Side and I was a) amazed by its unrelenting vulnerability and questioning, b) engaged with its complexities, c) struck by the magnitude of your damn fine prose, and d) suspended reading every fifty pages or so by the necessity to breathe deeply in order to give my body a little self-care respite upon reading this intense material. ​While reading The Other Side, I also read a New York Times article that was posted a few days ago about how UC Santa Barbara and a few other colleges are considering making it a requirement for professors to put trigger warnings in their syllabi. Personally, I am against the idea. This has not always been my position on the matter. Right after a sexual assault, I thought every piece of literature or film needed a trigger warning on it. Now, though, I believe that because it’s impossible to put a trigger warning on the entire world, efforts should be concentrated on how one can take care of oneself when reading triggering material. Unfortunately, there is always going to be violence in the world. It will continue to exist if we continue to avoid it. In other words, violence is a fact, so how can we react to it and work with it in a sustainable way? I don’t think trigger warnings are the answer. . . . I’d like to interview you . . . Trigger Happy | 25 You know the book is going to be triggering. You know the book is about rape and violence and will be emotionally hard to get through. You know this because you read the book’s description. Its synopsis is your warning. You probably shouldn’t read this. And yet. You heed these warnings. You open the book and encounter words and language and stories and realities that defy the idea that a warning can temper the truth. Your only preparation for reading this memoir is your willingness to enter it. (And your use of the second person point of view is your way to get a little bit of distance from it, to protect yourself just a tad from trauma stuff, to not completely dissociate to the point that you don’t remember what point you were trying to make in the first place.) When [the man who will kidnap and rape me] is home, he wants to fuck: in the morning, at lunchtime, after school, before bed. I say no, or turn away, or if I find some reason to be out of the house all day, we’re up until three in the morning, him screaming at me the whole time, twisting my words until they tell a story I’ve never heard before, until I doubt myself, until I finally give in, and let him fuck me while I sob face-first into my pillow. Our polite Asian neighbors never complain, never look me in the eye. (97) There are no warnings, no cushions that could soften the strength of Johnson’s candor. Though maybe this would work: 26 | Chelsey Clammer...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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