It’s because they’re blatantly misinterpreting them, and incorrectly telling me how I’m using them. Miri explains it all.
What’s gaslighting is when we say, “We need trigger warnings in order to be able to engage with content rather than automatically shut down,” and you respond, “You’re just trying to avoid engaging with difficult content.”
If people are telling you that they are trying to engage with trauma-related material and you insist that they’re actually saying that they want to avoid it–or literally ban it from being taught–you are gaslighting them. You are insisting that you know better than they do what’s inside their own heads. You are pretending that they said something other than what they actually said, making them doubt their own thoughts and words.
Exactly! When I’m going to talk about icky stuff, I warn people “We’re about to talk about icky stuff,” and then…we talk about icky stuff. It’s incredibly annoying when obnoxious people try to tell me that we use trigger warnings to avoid talking about the icky stuff, when it’s exactly the opposite.
I can’t say that I’m being successfully gaslit, though, because I’m confident that I know what my own intent is, and I mainly come away feeling that the complainer is full of shit. It does seem to be effectively persuading a lot of bystanders who just want to despise anyone who has respect for the experiences of the people they are teaching, though.