Penelope talks miscarriage – gets slammed, Jarvis talks penis – gets patted on back

What are the limits to the conversation in our social media world?

At what point does it become either too much information (TMI) or cross the line of polite society?

Back near the end of September Penelope Trunk, CEO of threw the following message out on Twitter

“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.”

Not only did that one message cause her a lot of flack on Twitter and her blog but she ended up having to defend herself on CNN as well as in the original and follow-up post. Everything from her womanhood to her common sense was questioned in the days that followed. I even had a bit of a hard time with it I will admit but in the end as I discussed on a podcast with my friend Sean I had to giver her credit for being willing to do what she did.

Then today I saw a post come through my feedreader written by Jeff Jarvis where he talks some more about the recent operation he has as a result of his run in with prostate cancer. The post was title Small c: The penis post and my first reaction was as probably with most men as they read the post one of winching.

I didn’t think that it was another case of TMI as Jeff was afraid of and as with Penelope I give the man credit for being willing to lay his life bare like this.

We men have complicated relationships with our penises, of course. We follow them (that’s why they’re in front). They tell us what we like. They have minds of their own. We anthropomorphize them; some give them names (I don’t; it’s just it). So when I see mine looking like an emaciated, depressed, shrunken old man in a hospital bed, well, it’s hard not to empathize.

However when it came to the reaction to Jeff’s post it was the total opposite from what Penelope experienced. Read through the comments to his post and all you see are pats on the back, commiserations with what he was going through, and well wishes for his recovery.

On one hand we have a woman who experiences a traumatic experience and talks about it only to get lambasted for it. Then on the other hand we have a man writing about a traumatic experience but he gets kudos for doing so. Some-one care to explain to me the double standard here?

Why is it okay for a man to write about his dick and not being able to use it – possibly ever again – but it isn’t okay for a woman to write about that she was losing a fetus?

So much for the enlightenment and open conversation that we all seem to be proclaiming is the new social world we are living in. As usual it turns out to be nothing more than a pile of bullshit and if you don’t think so just follow the insanity that is swirling around the death of a gay singer.

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