Sunday, October 4, 2009

O NOES! The Miscarriage Tweeter!

Oh! Here’s something. So who heard the story of the woman—Penelope Trunk (works for, I believe, geared towards teaching people how to market and manage their careers)—who tweeted about her miscarriage in a board room meeting? The tweet, on her account which is, I guess, public and possibly also geared towards career-based networking, reads: “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.” The media, of course, flew into a frenzy—how dare this woman be so blasé about the loss of a special-snowflake life! Is there nothing sacred in the cyber-verse? What compelled this idiot to tweet something so personal/devastating/graphic?

And yes, I am aware that most people would not wish to exhibit their miscarriage/abortion woes for the entire world. Yes, I realize the thin line between private and public in the Internet Age veers closer and closer to nonexistence—that really anything under the sun seems to be fair game for tweets and facebook status updates and myspace (do people still use that?) comments. Finally, no, I would not put this kind of information on my twitter account. (Well, I did post something on there about my glass-cutting nipples yesterday—but I think that remains fairly tame and mostly ironic.)

But then I saw this interview:

Rick Sanchez Interviews Penelope Trunk for CNN

…and several things came up for me, as well as things that I mulled over from some wonderful comments over on Jezebel (which I highly encourage you all to read, if you aren’t already! srsly one of the best blogs on the internetz!).

1. Would we all tweet this experience? No. But ultimately, she’s achieved exactly what, it seems, she was going for. People are talking about women’s bodily experiences—about the nitty-gritty of miscarrying a child (which, I’ll confess, I had no idea lasted over the course of weeks!), about the obstacles to having an abortion in this country, and about the fact that we HAVE NOT been talking about these issues in an open manner. As someone on Jezebel remarked, even the most ardently pro-choice advocates don’t discuss abortion in such a frank and unapologetic way. Trunk does not spare (that bastard interviewer) Rick Sanchez, and she most certainly doesn’t uphold the conventional image of the (post-abortion) martyred and grief-stricken fallen woman. She comments on the difficulty of having the procedure done in a timely and convenient manner without infusing her discussion with hot-button moralizing phraseology; she makes very clear how both miscarriages and abortions are facts-of-life for many women, and that having careers—and being stuck in a board meeting—does not mean that women aren’t going through these experiences. It’s just that no one is talking about it.

2. Sanchez attempts to put this awful fallen woman in her place at several occasions, to hilariously futile effect. He opens the interview with “Now I’m going to ask you a tough question, young lady” despite the fact that he’s speaking with a grown fucking woman (!)—not some Hot-Topic-styled tweenager cowering in his presence (and I wouldn’t condone his stance if it were). Sanchez infantilizes her, perhaps in the effort to undermine her capacity for decision making, perhaps to question her moral sanity, perhaps simply to impel his own masculine authority over her. His paternalistic demeanor throughout the interview is almost laughable, but the unfortunate and underlying fact of the matter here is that, in fact, much of the media was reacting in this very way to her—they just weren’t as visibly douchey about it. In the interview, he makes it crystal clear that he has no desire to listen to what she has to say or to think about it, perhaps, from her vantage point. As Trunk holds her own in the interview, going into great detail of the ways in which miscarriages occur, and bringing up a rather surprising factoid—that 75% of women have miscarried while at work (which, as Trunk points out, is not unusual, because miscarriages occur over the span of weeks, and aren’t vastly dissimilar to the experience of the menstrual cycle)—Sanchez increasingly appears confused and frustrated.

3. Once Trunk makes it clear that she was planning to abort the pregnancy, and was not going to beg for forgiveness for such a ‘heinous’ action—Sanchez attempts, once more, to undercut her decision. By reminding all of America that Trunk is already a mother, that she has children and cherishes them, or whatever the fuck Sanchez was trying to communicate, he reifies the notion that women are essentially reduced to their reproductive value. An abortion, as he attempts to paint it, is okay only if a woman wants to—does—fulfill her ‘proper’ role as wife and mother. But what Sanchez cannot seamlessly cover over in the process of the interview is Trunk’s insistence on the inadequacy of the legal and health systems of this country to provide optimal service for women that choose to end a pregnancy. Her repeated and merciless attention to the pragmatic workings of her experience—and the experience, as she remarks, of many many women who don’t or can’t talk about it—shines through the interview.

4. And ultimately, the very media that decries Trunk for her so-called TMI moment is the same media that’s not only awarding her the spotlight they seem to think she should be denied—but that believes the Kardashians and the Hiltons are newsworthy, that the ‘reality’ stars of a show like The Hills are worthy of having every moment of their lives publicized. The difference, I suppose, is that Trunk is controlling her own spotlight here, and she’s got something to say. But the hypocritical positioning of the talking heads since this burst out has been simply ludicrous.

5. And quote of the year? She reminds us all in the face of Sanchez’s ignorance that “Whether or not you believe women should have the right to abortion, they do in this country.”

So great. Seriously, watch it. Absolutely refreshing to see someone speaking so frankly and powerfully on the subject of abortion. Whatever you think of her decision to tweet the info, it’s panned out to get an honest dialogue going—and for that, I have nothing but respect for her.

Oh! Also, here are two badly-done phone camera photos!

Aw, the English grad lounge (also Classics, but who cares for them?). Couches, and the fridge where I store my little brown-bag-lunch. And a water machine (what the hell are those called?) that even has hot water for my tea! I spend 90% of my time on campus here.

See, see! There I am! Reading! And the book isn't upside down. But it is Judith Butler, so it may as well be.

More soon.

1 comment:

  1. Jamie, you're my new favorite feminist blog. This was perfection.