Facebook bans breastfeeding photos, in case you’ve missed all the hullabaloo lately. Is public breastfeeding really obscene? Facebook seems to think so. At least, posting photos of nursing your child can get you removed from Facebook altogether. AllFacebook.com reported Monday that Facebook warned user Heather Farley to remove a photo of her breastfeeding her child. Farley emailed Facebook requesting an explanation.
“When Facebook didn’t respond to Farley’s email, she posted another photo and was threatened by Facebook to have her account deleted. This is when things got ugly—for Facebook, at least. Once Farley went public with her complaint against Facebook, stating that she felt bullied. So she protested.”
Facebook users posting breastfeeding photos like Farley have been warned to remove the “offensive” photos or risk losing their Facebook account. At the time of this posting, 83,000+ Facebook users have joined the Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene! group to petition Facebook to stop harassing users with breastfeeding photos and to possibly change their TOS (terms of service) to make room for these motherly expressions.
There’s a much larger issue at stake here. One which neither Farley nor Facebook have the power to change. But the handling of this online situation and the attention it will bring could at least make the public aware of the issue on a level that is more open and honest than you’ll get by hearing some random bitter person’s opinion at the local Starbucks.
Why do people react so strongly to public breastfeeding? What is REALLY at issue here?
Men and women alike have abysmally poor role models in their parents, extended family, and teachers. Men are taught by example to view breasts as a intensely sexual parts of the female body. They are one of the hottest visual hotspots on a woman. Many men face a sort of sexual confusion when their wives or girlfriends first breastfeed a baby.
These parts of the body that were once dedicated solely to gratify their sexual desire now give off a very non-sexual, motherly vibe, and the men go into shock. That whole oedipal thing still hasn’t gotten sorted out by the male gender, and reminders that the very object of our highest affection is not really ours, but a highly functional and amazing tool for feeding and comforting children has some of us all out of sorts.
Many childless women (and some mothers) react much the same way. They have been taught by the fashion magazines, Hollywood, high school, and all of American culture to view their breasts as male magnets. Women are taught by example to identify with their bodies in a singular, sexual fashion, rather than in the simultaneously dualistic sexual/motherly/nurturing fashion.
Simply put, public breastfeeding is a slap in the face of American glam culture, centered around airbrushing, Photoshop, yoga-like contortions, and expensive lighting. We are earthy, natural creatures after all, and no amount of denial and avoidance will change that fact.
Everyone trying to look, act, and live like they have the perfect enviable life want nothing to do with what they consider to be the basest of human functions. But we are doing ourselves a grave disservice to look down on public nursing as something crude, obscene, or improper. Breastfeeding is one of the most miraculous processes known to humanity, involving scientific and psychological marvels you haven’t even imagined yet.
On the other hand, there is something a bit artificial about a woman’s insistence on showing her baby nursing in a photo. What is the point? Someone said that it’s no different than showing a photo of your baby drinking from a bottle. Okay. I understand that perspective. But I don’t want to see a photo of a baby drinking a bottle either. You don’t need a photo of me with a forkload of spaghetti in my mouth, do you?
This is where we need to find balance. The REAL issue is whether a woman breastfeeding in the line of sight of others is obscene and improper, to which I must decidedly say no, it isn’t. It is good, healthy, and natural for a woman to nurse.
A woman dedicated to nursing her child has every right to participate in the events of life, and should not be banished from the world because she takes the time and effort to feed her baby with the most nutritious and emotionally comforting food possible.
Still, what’s with the photos? I don’t get it. In the real world, I can notice a woman breastfeeding and decide not to stare and ogle her in a sexual way. When I visit your Facebook profile, your pic is staring me in the face and saying, “See! My breast! Look at it! Look at it, but don’t think of it as you would normally think of a breast.”
Then again, maybe my personal understanding of breasts is still far too limited. Perhaps I need an awakening. Perhaps we all need a Breastfeeding Renaissance.
Let me break this down into the simplest possible way I know how:
We should be VERY cautious to relegate wholesome, intimate, natural, healthy, and beneficial parts of humanity into something less… something repulsive. If you want to show your breast in a nursing photo, be my guest. But I don’t want to visit your page because I don’t need to look at it. However, anyone looking disdainfully at women loving their babies the most natural way possible is missing out on a critical natural
A woman does not deserve to be punished for being a good mother. And public ridicule, disgust, or contempt are unnaceptable displays of cruelty towards this, our most sacred act of nurturing life and the hope of our tomorrow.