Friday, January 02, 2009


So, there's this insane controversy on Facebook that has erupted into the mainstream media. It seems that Facebook has yanked photos that were posted on profiles because those photos show women breastfeeding babies. This somehow violates their policies about ... uh? ... nudity or something. Or it is upsetting to ... someone. I thought it was just crazy, uneducated, sexually frustrated individuals who--in this relatively new millenia--were freaked out by public breastfeeding and photos of it, but I've just read a blog post by someone whom I respect which completely floored me.

I started a lengthy ocmment on his--note pronoun for irony purposes--website, but it got very soapboxish. So I'm posting the comment here instead. The comment I did leave was brief, courteous, and (I hope) non-inflammatory. For contextual purposes, one of the arguments he makes is quoted below, because I refer to it in my response:

It doesn’t have to be a matter of being a prude; imagine the woman who has lost a baby, or the woman who has suffered breast cancer. While I can’t imagine being in either position, I can imagine that seeing the image of a newborn breastfeeding might be a little torturous for any woman who has gone through either situation.
My heated reply:
For me, I think the issue is that you can see plenty of breasts on Fb, but the only ones being banned are the ones doing what they are made to do. So, Fb will let a photo of a woman or girl in a VERY low-cut top stay (unless someone reports it), but a photo that shows less breast but has a baby feeding is pulled. Yeah. That's perfectly sensible.

Perhaps if people (ahem, men) saw breasts doing what they are designed for they'd stop being so freakin' wound up about seeing breasts exhibited as artwork.

Have you seen any of the photos these women posted? I don't think there are any that are even remotely sexual in nature, not that I've looked at them all. Nor have I seen any in which what you call "the whole breast" is visible. And frankly, I can randomly pull up several Fb profiles with WAY more revealing photos than these. Do I care? No, because I don't look at, much less 'friend', people who post those sorts of pictures. That way I don't have to look at their retardo exhibitionism.

However, I have a friend who has an amazing photo of herself feeding her baby: it's a candid and one of the best pictures of her I've seen. I don't think she's on Fb, but I'm sure no one could be offended by it.

Women have been fighting this uphill battle for more than 'just' this year. I was called all sorts of names on the occasions when I nursed my son when he was a baby 16 years ago. My sisters, ditto, 20-30 years ago. We weren't flaunting, we had blankets over our shoulders, and yet people (ahem, men mostly) were horribly rude about it. Had we parading through the room wearing a low-cut blouse, I doubt they'd have complained at all, though.

I do have a relative who recently gave birth to a stillborn baby. The merest sight of babies is painful. Yes, seeing a photo of a breastfeeding baby is painful, but so is seeing happy parents playing with their newborn. This particular argument is straight-up bizarre. Seeing older men sometimes upsets me because my father is dead; should photos of old men be banned from Fb? Come on.

As for those people (not just women) suffering from, or recovering from, breast you really think this is any more painful than seeing ads for Victoria's Secret? Really? Should those be banned? (well, actually...I'd be OK with that...)

Speaking as a mom, and a feminist, I will tell you that babies get hungry on their own schedule. To a degree you can plan ahead, but sometimes they will start fussing when you are in a public place. I would much prefer finding a quiet corner and a comfortable chair over sitting on a toilet or the floor in a public restroom. If someone took a photo of me that was a good picture, I'd cherish it.

I do think that perhaps you're being very disingenous. To the best of my knowledge you've never had a baby in your life full-time much less had the opportunity to breastfeed. For that I'm very sorry. I think you're viewpoint might change were you a little closer to the situation in your own life.

In other words, you know not whereof you speak, so perhaps you ought to take it down a notch.
OK, yeah, I'm cranky. Blame David Caruso and today's CSI:Miami marathon.

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