Down with Shame!

“I’m in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there’s a fucked-up three-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.”

Thus ran Penelope Trunk’s tweet, which she defends further here

Liberal Conspiracy provides a vehement defence of her action, in the face of a barrage of outraged responses. There Laurie Penny attacks such outrage as an attempt to police women’s emotional responses, and notes that the shame attached to public airing of biological function is peculiarly inconsistent (when that function is pornographic or sexualised, the shaming abates…). Interestingly, Penny argues that Trunk is engaged in an important process necessary for gender equality, advocated by Mill:

The knowledge which men can acquire of women …is wretchedly imperfect and superficial, and always will be so, until women themselves have told all that they have to tell.

4 thoughts on “Down with Shame!

  1. This is so interesting and important. Trunk’s comment in her (linked-to) defense is close to the Mill:

    believe that the history of women can be seen, in some ways, as a history of language. The more women talk about their experiences, the more power they have to shape those experiences. … We have a word for miscarriage. We should use it to explore the complicated issues around it.

    If you insist on keeping the word private, you force the experience of women back into darkness. If you start telling women which media is appropriate for which emotion, you undermine the progress we make.

  2. There is a lot of things that women can do to make themselves more real in the world. We censor ourselves as much as anybody does. Images of ourselves in non-ornamental roles, anything that captures the spontaneity of real life (as opposed to the shellacked look of woman as beauty object). Revel in the Dionysian aspects of sexuality and menstruation as a religious rites of self-oblation (that annihilate, both metaphorically and concretely, the sterility of patriarchal mores). And so on.

  3. She was 42 and already raising an AUTISTIC child and people are knocking her for being grateful that she didn’t have to choose abortion?!? Or just the way she worded her gratitude?

    I raised an autistic child to the age of 9 before I sent him to live with more affluent relatives. Words can’t express the torture chamber that classes on epistemology/metaphysics/moral reasoning/psychology/fem-lit/Gothic horror/political philosophy/social policy making became for me. Leaving his insane world every day, constantly listening to “You live in ‘no-daddy-alley’, he must be a crack baby or something”, then coming to the equally insane world of first-year line-ups climaxed with having to leave a presentation on Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech in near-hysterics.

    Sometimes a lady can only express this kind of horror and grief with the words “F**k I’m glad I don’t have to think about that any more.”

    All my shaking hands will allow me to offer on Mill right now (he’s one of my favourites too) is “F**k I’m glad we have heroes like him”.

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