Squick

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Synonyms: antonym of kink
See also: Kink, Squee, Bulletproof Kink, Trigger
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Squick is a term commonly used in discussion about fanfiction and represents anything that is a deep-seated, visceral turn-off for the reader.

The term was coined on the Usenet group alt.sex.bondage before 1995." [1] It is difficult to know when it attained enough popular use to be reconized in larger fandom spaces, but a fan in 1999 employed it in her comments regarding The Foresmutters Project. [2]

Squicks may be shared by many readers or be specific to one; one person's kink may be another person's squick. It is more frequently used when discussing sexually explicit fiction.

For example, some readers may have an embarrassment squick, and do not enjoy reading stories where a character is embarrassed or in an awkward situation. To quote User:Vee,
Among my kind, "watch from the hall" is what we call the embarrassment squick, because it's so bothersome you can't even watch it through your fingers and have to leave the room when it's happening.
Although squick in its original use conveys an intensely adverse reaction, through fannish drift its meaning has been diluted so that today it may also be used to mean "stuff I don't want to write, read, or receive in a gift exchange."

Some Definitions

So what, you ask, is a squick?

A squick is an old fandom term for something that makes you supremely uncomfortable and you absolutely do not want to read it. It can be a trope, a ship, a concept, or just an event that happens within a fic or in canon. For me, abused animals are a definite squick. I don’t like it, and will generally avoid reading any graphic descriptions of such. (That includes tumblr gif sets and such too, people! Tag that shit, will you? Even if it has a happy ending.) Another deep, deep squick of mine is infant age play. Don’t like it, don’t get it, don’t want to think about it.

Now, neither of these things are dangerous to my mental or emotional state. I have never experienced either in my life, and they do not bring about any sort of PTSD, dissociation, or spiral of depression, anxiety, etc. They are simply things I prefer not to think about in my daily life, or read about in my escapist hobbies. Therefore, they are not triggers. Triggers are very real, very bad things for some people, and to label things we choose not to read because we find it disturbing or gross or weird is to diminish the very real danger of actual triggers.

I love the term squick. It perfectly describes the concept without assigning any negativity to the thing you dislike, or to people who do like the thing you dislike. It is something you personally do not care for and wish to avoid, simple as that. [3]

The Differences Between Triggers and Squicks

Squick is a fun term that was often used as both a noun and a verb. Either X was one of your squicks, or X squicked you, or squicked you out, or squicked you hard. It was often used in fic exchanges. They would ask for a list of your squicks so that the gifting author would know not to include any hint of them. It was also used in casual conversation with fandom friends, authors, artists, etc. It could be left in comments, or as a reason you just didn’t read your best fandom friend’s latest fic. “Sorry, bff, you know I love your writing, but you have X tagged at the top, and that just squicks me out.” “Hey, no worries, best reader friend! I totally get it. Give this one a pass, but I’ll send you a note when I post my next one! I promise it will be totally X-free! ”Here’s the thing though. In your example, you explain why X is your squick with Y. But the beauty of squick was that (at least in my experience) no explanation was necessary. Not only was it not necessary, it was rarely asked for. A squick is a squick, and there doesn’t have to be any rhyme or reason. In fact, why would you have a rational, bullet-pointed, well-thought-out argument as to why something squicked you out? Very often it’s a visceral reaction, and if you don’t like the thing, you’re likely not going to sit and do deep meditation on why not. Squicks were respected by fandom. You don’t like the thing, okay, we will tag the thing appropriately, you do not have to read the thing, no judgments on either side. There was no fandom policing, only respect. And this, I think, is super important, because fandom policing is a problem, especially when it comes to triggers. “Trigger” has become so overused, so all-encompassing, that people feel they have to defend their legitimate triggers. If X triggers you, it triggers you, and you DO NOT need to provide an explanation. But because “trigger” is so often used in place of “squick,” some people feel they have the right to “call out” those who use the word. They want explanations, they want you to tell them what that triggering concept does to you, so they can call bullshit and feel superior. You don’t have to explain either your squicks or your triggers, but using the correct word stops the fandom police from feeling as though they have the right to ask. Bring “squick” back, people. Don’t devalue triggers, which are horrible, nasty, dangerous things. [4]

Meta/Further Reading

  • Meta: birth of a squick by stele3
  • What makes YOU squick? by cruiscin_lan
  • Narrative Squicks - informal poll by sophiap
  • How was squick used?, Archived version (2016) ("Squicks were respected by fandom. You don’t like the thing, okay, we will tag the thing appropriately, you do not have to read the thing, no judgments on either side. There was no fandom policing, only respect......“Trigger” has become so overused, so all-encompassing, that people feel they have to defend their legitimate triggers....Bring “squick” back, people. Don’t devalue triggers, which are horrible, nasty, dangerous things.")

External Links

  • Squick on the tvtropes.com wiki

References

  1. The Foresmutters Project (accessed December 9, 2009)
  2. May 1999 at alt.startrek.creative; WebCite
  3. The madness of me (What's a squick?), Archived version (February 2016)
  4. The madness of me (How was squick used? Like would you tag something...), Archived version (2016)