Posted by: CJ | May 24, 2011

Penelope Trunk overview…

She crazy. Pretty seriously nuts. But she’s utterly open about it, and by embracing it she’s able to tell people what her issues are and fellow-up with, “but you want to work with me in spite of my quirks because I can do X, Y, and Z better than nearly anyone you’ve worked with.” And that approach seems to work for her. (I mean, she’s also getting the demographic of people who love to read about crazy people being crazy. Which is non-trivial, especially with a writer as good as she is.)

First, I want to mention one of the most visible things about her writing and choice of topics. She’s as cutting edge modern feminism as I’ve seen. She’s fine saying that she loves her kids and they’re the center of her life, but parenting is pretty boring and tedious. She’s fine with saying that she decided she wanted an abortion when she found out she was pregnant a third time because the chances of birth defects were too high for her taste. And, what’s more, she says getting an abortion is her right as an american, and really it’s no big deal. She even twittered that she was relieved she had a miscarriage since it meant not having to deal with all the red tape of getting an abortion. And she manages to weave everything together so that she’s a mother, a careerist, yet comfortable being traditionally feminine when she wants to be. And not just internally comfortable, but comfortable talking about it to anyone that wants to listen. All of which is why I think she’s the most cutting edge modern feminist I read. It’s not even really too bad she’s nuts, since she embraces that too as just another problem to deal with in living life and being a parent.

Her vocation, currently, is giving career advice. And she’s full of it, and it appeals to my generation. She tells us grad school is a waste of time because you should go out and work. She says chasing after what you love is a bunch of BS, because most people love things which are not open as jobs. She embraces that my generation takes a good decade before they settle down on any careers, and even then they’ll move around a lot. She says that’s fine. And that as a result, we need to focus less on pay packages and more on fulfilling friendships and good sex.

But, like I said, she’s crazy. She claims to be an aspie. She says she easily gets sensory overload or doesn’t interpret sensory information correctly (which I can corroborate as an issue), can’t tell left from right (I always need a second to remember), lectures people (whooboy do I do this), has trouble following social niceties (not my strong point), and has difficulty taking new routes (I’m worse than average but not as bad as her). She manages her office relationships by being utterly direct, to the point of rude and bossy occasionally. On the flip side, I find her descriptions of sex with aspies bizarre and her inability to do math beyond a 3rd grade level embarrassing.

Overall, someone I suspect I’ll keep reading for at least several months. But I’m not sure yet whether her ideas and viewpoints will have the staying power of Robin Hanson’s, my other aspie with crazy-yet-not-so-crazy-upon-reflection ideas.



  1. I think I’ve hear of her, but I’m not sure how. Interesting post–I’m going to follow her on twitter.

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