Trunk Tweets a Miscarriage
Last week, career blogger Penelope Trunk caused a bit of a stir when she used Twitter to declare:
I’m in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there’s a fucked-up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.
Now, I’m not a big fan of Trunk personally, after hearing (most of) her talk at BarCamp Nashville 2007. I felt like this was a person who gives career advice I tend to disagree with or even find somewhat offensive, who is primarily interested in promoting herself however possible (which is fine, but I’m just not interested). This is all to make a disclaimer that I’m biased toward assigning attention-getting motives to just about anything Trunk does. Tweeting a miscarriage and gladness for it is certainly one way to continue to draw attention to oneself.
But you know what? Her tweet, and her motives for publishing it, are not the issue – the responses she reports receiving are. The comments telling Trunk how she *should* feel about a miscarriage are a problem. The idea that miscarriage is something personal that *should* be kept secret whether a woman wants to keep it secret or not, when so so many women have them, is a problem. The idea that people’s bodies should effectively be hidden from the work environment where we spend so much of our time is problematic in its own ways. The waiting period in Wisconsin obviously presented its own problem to Trunk, and likely does for many other women, including women without the work flexibility to accommodate waiting periods – I’ve written before that I find these waiting periods paternalistic and insulting. The idea that women should always be overjoyed and grateful to be pregnant is a problem – as any woman who has ever prayed to get her period will tell you. Yes, many women lose wanted pregnancies and are upset, even devastated. But people have a whole range of reactions to events in their lives, and that is okay.
Amanda Marcotte (who I also don’t always agree with) also responds at Double X , where she writes:
“If the public at large had to face up to the fact that not every miscarriage is met with a vale of tears, that could have a dramatic impact on how we regard pregnancy, abortion, and women’s diverse experiences with our reproductive functions.”
And, as Trunk concludes, “We are not used to talking about the female experience, and especially not in the context of work. But so what? We can start now. The female experience is part of work…If work is going to support our lives, then we need to talk about how our lives interact with work.”
[You'll have to go to about page 9 of Twitter search for @penelopetrunk right now to see some of the negative responses, along with the comments on her blog post on the matter.]