The XX Factor

Go Ahead, Tweet Your Abortion

Blogger Penelope Trunk should feel free to tweet her miscarriage . Because women have miscarriages and abortions. And then don’t talk about it. But we should.

When I first read Penelope Trunk’s tweet, I winced. Overshare seemed like an understatement. But Trunk shares most details of her life, so why shouldn’t she put this one out there? If you’ve had a miscarriage or abortion, for any reason, then you know that they have one thing in common besides the obvious: Before it happens, you don’t think you know anyone else who’s lost or aborted a fetus. Afterward, you find out you’re far from alone. Women aren’t very open about their experiences with miscarriage, and we’re even less open about our abortions: Since 28 percent of women have had an abortion (40 percent of women between 40 and 55) and 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage , then every one of us knows someone who’s been there. It’s just that your friend-your mom, your grandmother-never talks about it.

Pregnancy, miscarriage, and menstruation are all just bodily functions, and like all bodily functions, our control over them is more imprecise and tenuous than we would like. But we seem to reserve a special layer of shame and condemnation for the bodily functions that happen only to women. So here’s my second thought for Penelope Trunk: Thanks. Because not talking about a miscarriage or an abortion-or all the complicated feelings that can get rolled up in both-because it’s just too personal is fine. But not talking about it because no one else ever talks about it-so maybe we’re just not supposed too-is not. Which makes living in a world where Penelope Trunk can toss off a miscarriage, a desired abortion, and her generally cranky feelings about both in 140 characters or less … priceless.