Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sound Off - Facebook Controversy

This question was submitted via comments by Fallingstar.
I think it makes a good Sound Off question.

"I was wondering what people thought about the facebook controversy on removing photos of mothers breastfeeding their children. In case you haven't heard, facebook has been removing the breastfeeding photos that people have posted in their own personal albums."

37 comments:

Guinevere said...

I think the whole thing is a bit silly, as I think the fetishization of the female breast is silly, but I also think that there is no such thing as an inalienable right to a Facebook account. It's their application, their rules. Claims of censorship don't really wash with me in this instance.

nannymcphee said...

Although I am a breast feeding advocate; why would you put or want these types of pictures on your facebook page? Nudity is nudity and if the policy says no boobs, and the pics show the breast, it is a violation.

Anya said...

I personally would not post breastfeeding pictures of myself on Facebook or any other application, for that matter.

That said, I think it reveals a pretty priggish and outdated attitude for a company that started on a college campus.

Facebook has every right to run its site as it sees fit and I have the right to conclude their decision reveals a juvenile and obtuse mindset.

I understand people have different ideas of what comprises modesty, but in 2009, I would like to think a partially exposed breast or a 2 year-old's bottom would not arouse such hysteria.

indianprincess said...

If it violates the terms of use with Facebook then they have the right to remove the pictures. Most likely facebook deleted the photos because other users complained about it. Sure breastfeeding is a natural process between mother and child but some people don't want to see it up in there faces. I think with any picture just ask yourself, What would Grandma think? or whoever you respect before you post a picture. Who's in the wrong? I would say both sides because I've seen some questionable pictures on Facebook worse off than a mother breastfeeding her child.

Anya said...

indianprincess said...I think with any picture just ask yourself, What would Grandma think? or whoever you respect before you post a picture. Who's in the wrong? I would say both sides because I've seen some questionable pictures on Facebook worse off than a mother breastfeeding her child.

I generally agree about the Grandma standard. It's a good one to follow in most instances.

I will say, however, wouldn't the complainers have to be people within your "friends" network?

I also think there is more distasteful content on there than a partially exposed breast...

themrs said...

i'm sorry but this infuriates me. contrary to modern belief, breasts are made for breastfeeding. that is why we have them. there are teenagers and adults alike that post pics of themselves all over these sights in positions and practical nudity but that's acceptable. however, show a woman feeding her baby and it's obsene. i've always been really careful when nursing my babies to be modest and keep everything covered. if i tried to tell you all the times i've gotten dirty looks for it we'd be here all day. would i personally post pics of myself doing it? No. but i'm a modest person. do i think it's obsene? absolutely not... good for those mamas for being proud of their body and proud of feeding their babies. i just joined the group supporting it.

Mom said...

I nursed my little one. I have a professional picture of me nursing him. It's a beautiful picture. One I will treasure for years to come. It was taken for our (H & I) eyes only. I would never post anything like that on my Facebook page - LOL!

If I were a lactation consultant and had a professional business, perhaps my website would contain such photos for educational purposes.

Even my personal photo isn't obscene in any way.

If FB's rules are no boobies, though, then they call the shots.

I'm still scratching my head wondering why I would want any of my FB friends to see me nursing though.

Saint said...

I'm surprised that breastfeeding photos have been banned. All of them or just certain, particular, "offensive" ones?

If any photo of a woman breastfeeding is banned, then that seems over the top.

Guinevere said...

Sure breastfeeding is a natural process between mother and child but some people don't want to see it up in there faces.

Well, it wouldn't really be in anyone's face unless they visited your Facebook page.

I'm still scratching my head wondering why I would want any of my FB friends to see me nursing though.

I think a lot of people wouldn't want that type of picture on their Facebook page, but I don't have that much trouble imagining that some women would, or at least would see nothing wrong with it.

Again, Facebook's rules are Facebook's rules. I do agree with Anya that the who thing strikes me as a bit prudish.

fallingstar said...

Not every single photo has been removed. At least not yet anyways. It is hard to determine what criteria exactly they use to remove photos. Famous artwork of the Virgin Mary with her breast exposed were removed. Some photos with little breast exposure are removed and others with a ton of exposure remain.

Also as my local newspaper has pointed out- there are much worse things allowed on facebook. Girls' breasts practically exposed, illegal activity, underage drinking, girls in provocative posses.
IMO I think taking these photos down is contradictory.

fallingstar said...

O and as someone mentioned on the potty training discussion about the difference between changing a diaper and using the toilet, a similar point has been brought up regarding the breastfeeding debate.
Some have wondered what the difference was between showing a bottle fed baby and a nursing baby and why one is allowed and one isn't. Just another thought to throw in there!

Anya said...

themrs said...
good for those mamas for being proud of their body and proud of feeding their babies. i just joined the group supporting it.


I agree!


Mom said...I nursed my little one. I have a professional picture of me nursing him. It's a beautiful picture. One I will treasure for years to come. It was taken for our (H & I) eyes only.

Mom, I am sure it's a lovely photo and good for you for capturing it.

fallingstar said...Not every single photo has been removed. At least not yet anyways. It is hard to determine what criteria exactly they use to remove photos. Famous artwork of the Virgin Mary with her breast exposed were removed. Some photos with little breast exposure are removed and others with a ton of exposure remain.

Rolling my eyes here. It just shows how lame their attempts are.

Thanks for the information, Fallingstar.

themrs said...

how can the virgin mary be obsene? breast or not! that's a bit much IMO

themrs said...

guin- i'm trying to see what your avatar says but my computer is not cooperating! I can read the text but not what the doors say?

scarfoot said...

I think Facebook can do whatever it likes, because it can set its own rules. While I don't feel strongly one way or the other, and am not bothered by breastfeeding, I know many people who are bothered by it. I think they just feel that it's a private, intimate moment and feel uncomfortable viewing it.

I have spent extensive time in Guatemala, and it's a whole different ball game there! Breastfeeding your child is a sign that you are able to provide for your child. In a third world country, this is a huge status symbol. Breastfeeding is done very publicly, on purpose. It is so in your face that they actually sell breastfeeding souvenirs and postcards of Guatemalan women breastfeeding - with nothing covered.

I do think it's a very natural thing to do, and I think it's silly how people get so worked up about it. I think it's odd that you'd want pictures of yourself breastfeeding on your Facebook page, and that you have to follow the rules. However, I can respect people who feel uncomfortable publicly viewing a body part that is typically something kept more private. I would hope that if I was making someone uncomfortable while breastfeeding, that I would make more of an attempt to cover up, or go in a different room. I think that courtesy could be extended to this issue. (Mom, I'm sure your picture is very tasteful!)

Guinevere said...

guin- i'm trying to see what your avatar says but my computer is not cooperating! I can read the text but not what the doors say?

Sorry - I should change it, it is hard to read. It's an advertising agency with a "no soliciting" sign on the door.

Florida Mom said...

I think the internet has produced a strange phenomenon. People seem to want to share too much information. Nothing is private anymore. The same with reality shows. I know younger women I have worked with(and just met), that tell me every intimate detail of their life. I don't want to seem rude, but it really isn't any of my business. I think women that breast feed should be proud of themselves, but maybe we can just take your word for it.

Florida Mom said...

PS>--Having said that, I would much rather see pictures of nursing mothers posted than the drunken girls gone wild photos young women post to their sites, that they will no doubt live to regret.

Florida Mom said...

Oh no! I sound like a real prude don't I?

Hembie said...

While I agree that some people online have no problem showing the most private of pictures. I find it hard to lump breastfeeding in with that. I currently nurse my 13 month old twins and have in public and private, most of my neighbours with babies and toddlers do as well.
Nursing can be a wonderfully precious act between a mother and a child but it’s still just feeding your baby and there is nothing private about that.
When my babies were 2 months old screaming to bed fed while I was out, I wasn’t going to wait to go somewhere more private to feed them. It’s also difficult to be covered with two babies. I was lucky that no one in Toronto seems to have a problem with that.
I haven’t posted any pictures of me nursing because I don’t really have any but I know many women who have and it’s really no big deal up here in the Great White North.
As for anyone who might be offended by seeing a woman nursing. I think it’s more a problem with their perception. I’m not nursing to shock or make a point so I find it mind boggling when someone acts like a woman is doing something shocking or offensive.

themrs said...

florida mom- i totally agree with you ( i must be a prude too :) people have no sense of privacy anymore. example: last year i started babysitting for a woman who responded to my ad in the church bulletin. i had her over for dinner with her child so that they could get to know us. during dinner (keep in mind all my children and hers were at the table) she starts telling me how she really has a problem with sleeping with men she doesn't know. i thought my husband was going to have a heart attack! what's worse, i am the head of women's ministry at our church (which she knew) and she's sitting there telling me she picks up guys in bars and has sex with them. is that something you'd tell someone the first time you meet them? someone who you are interviewing to watch your child? later on, i came across her myspace page. she had an album of her child and then the next was pics of her semi naked and in provocative poses. yet her page was covered in scripture! i've noticed that people today have no "filter"!

Lizabeth said...

I love Facebook. Really-- its a site that I am on far more than I should be. That being said, I agree it is hypocritical to censor the breastfeeding pics while allowing the underage drinking pictures. Its also really amazing how scandalous some of the ads are-- there are half naked girls in the side bars which I know is really offensive to some of my friends.

I know a girl who gave birth 3 1/2 months premature, so she had some adorable pics of the 'kangaroo' bonding they did where her 2 pound baby was nestled in her chest. She was clothed, but it could be construed by these new rules as inappropriate. I had never heard of this therapy for preemies before, so it was educational as well as sweet to see her getting to know her new daughter. (FYI baby girl is a year old now and healthy as can be. Still tiny for her age, but doing well!)

I guess this is just one more thing on the list of "not something I would do/post/claim but not something I can criticize someone else for doing/posting/claiming." There have been a lot of those topics here lately :). To each their own. I am definitely NOT a fan of seeing a girl I baby sat who is now 18 at parties dressed like a slut and drinking, so it seems like Facebook should deal with those pics before the nursing ones.

MommyZinger said...

Well, I have a picture of my daughter nursing in one of my facebook albums. You really can't see anything though so I doubt it will be removed.

If it was, it wouldn't bother me. But I've seen worse pictures on Facebook. For example, hairy male bums. I mean, come on. Does anyone need to see that? Not I, but I wouldn't complain about it either...just click on through.

FIONA said...

I have to think that perhaps the photos that were brought to attention were possibly not tasteful and there purpose was not just a casual pic of Mommy and baby.


I am very new to FB....and I go by the Grandmother rule as well. In fact, I think more people should follow it! :)

SamanthaNC said...

I think it's silly. You can see a lot more on facebook than a nursing photo, a LOT more, to remove the typical breastfeeding picture is making it something that it isnt. While modesty is key there is nothing "obscene" about it. I wouldnt post such a photo but I'm little miss modest to the MAX.

A Mom-ynous said...

It is not a choice I would make, but it is absolutely...

How can I put these...

Stupid, idiotic, senseless, "sexist", "prudish"...

To even come close to comparing this to "nudity" or "indecency" or "sexual exposure" or "pornography".

I would need a thesaurus for more words.

Let me explain my opinion.

First off, facebook only removed the photos after complaints.

The complaints come from people, who need to get a life.

A woman who is breastfeeding is NOT revealing a breast.

While I do not know verbatim the law of each and every state of the Union, I do know the law in MY state.

MY state actually mentions the nip and areola in the law. Incidental exposure of these in the course of feeding or preparing to feed or completing of feeding of a child--is not indecent exposure.

This is to protect moms who choose to BF in public (fully support and have done it!) from crazies who want them arrested when the babe pops off suddenly.

Now this is different (IMHO) when a woman grandstands and perhaps lingers to make a point. But that's crassness for you.

I have not been personal witness to it--but it always seems the folks who are anti-public feedings have had more than their share of overexposure.

I always have found that an odd observance--b/c I can tell when women are in the process, but there is no "flashing" if you will.

An innocent photo of a child BFing--is not indence, nor is it nudity, nor is it showing a "breast".

Many photos that I have seen--including those on Mothering magazine (gift from a friend, and they are known to push the envelope)....show no more skin thant a halter top at times.

A tastefully done photo--isn't an issue.

No comparisons intended--but this is a mountain out of a molehill.

If facebooks wants to ban it, it is their perogative. They aren't attempting to prohibit breastfeeding. But they are merely trying to protect folks who are uncomfortable and unaccustomed to the site of a child obviously feeding.

It is so not the norm in this country and it is shameful.

Folks like to compare that bodily functions involving a toilet are "natural" but are prohibited from being visually displayed.

I find that a weak argument and some other words I will not type.

It isn't the S word, it isn't waste elimination--it is the feeding of a baby.

I am glad that my state protects me and most states do protect women.

If women wish to "share" their photos, there are plenty of opportunities.

They can write their own blog.

They can go to forums that welcome these photos and are BF-friendly.


BUT--the day that any photo company refuses to print/develop a photo of a mother Breastfeeding her child...

I would love to see that case go to the supreme court.

It is the one thing that I am glad that Roe V Wade is around. Women have choices and breastfeeding in public is one of them.

As long as Facebook isn't lobbying to have that outlawed, I don't care if they ban it from their site.

But it breastfeeding does not meet the legal definition of nudity. I would not be surpised if the moms attempt to win that in court. Depending on jurisdiction, Facebook would have a bit of a difficulty defending themselves.

A Mom-ynous said...

"What would Grandma think? or whoever you respect before you post a picture. Who's in the wrong? I would say both sides because I've seen some questionable pictures on Facebook worse off than a mother breastfeeding her child."

With all due respect, my family knows the birds and the bees and how we got the baby in my tummy to begin with--and that is far more...private than a public depiction of a nursing child.

So this argument doesn't fly.

Our families know that at least *I* did the deed...

a nursing child is wayyyyyyyyyyyy more "innocent".

Nina Bell said...

I breast fed both of my kids many years ago and don't recall having any pictures taken of me doing so. We didn't have the internet in the 80's and certainly not Facebook or MySpace. I am pretty sure though, I would have never posted pictures of myself breastfeeding.

I do believe that people do post too much personal information about themselves on the internet that later comes back to haunt them.

However, I really don't have a problem with people posting these pictures on their personal Facebook albums. I wonder what Blogger's policy is on this.

GLO said...

I am a current breastfeeding mother, and I cannot begin to tell you how the double-standard about breast exposure ticks me off!

Why is it ok for a man, whose nipples are for purely decorative purpose, to expose his breasts, while breastfeeding mothers are deemed "obscene"?

There a thousands of pictures of male nipples on FB with no complaints. I have seen male breasts on FB that are larger than mine! It is pure discrimination. If FB wants to impose a no nipple policy, that is TPTB's perrogative, but they need to enforce it uniformly.

Guinevere said...

The thing that I keep in mind during discussions of this sort is that there are no inherent rules about what body parts are "private" - these are all just cultural norms.

Some cultures require women to cover themselves entirely for reasons of "modesty". Some require that female hair be covered, as it is considered sexually provocative. Victorians had a thing about legs and ankles (ankles? really? I fail to see what is so sexy about the average ankle). So female breasts aren't inherently private parts, and breastfeeding is not inherently a private activity. Glo's point about male nipples is a good one.

That said, I do realize that cultural standards do carry weight, and in our culture, female breasts are private. But that may change at some point, and if it does, I don't think society will fall apart. While some may see things like this Facebook skirmish as a sign that people have no sense of privacy or decorum today, it may just be that cultural values are shifting. It can be a painful and confusing process.

Personally, I am less put off by nudity than I am by very provocative clothing. Nudity just seems natural, whereas a bikini that is really just a few tiny scraps of fabric feels more vulgar to me, even if the "private" parts are covered.

Trish said...

I acutally did a post about this on my own facebook account! :)
I breastfed five children...I think it is a wonderful, beautiful thing...but I don't want to see a photo of you doing it!

indianprincess said...

In Toronto Canada, a female can go topless if she wants. It's not against the law there..I just want to clarify, I'm not against breastfeeding pictures but I can see how people would feel uncomfortable about it.

Guinevere said...

I breastfed five children...I think it is a wonderful, beautiful thing...but I don't want to see a photo of you doing it!

Okay, but you not wanting to see the photo and thinking that a person doesn't have the right to put up a photo are two different things. I mean, no one is forced to look at anyone's Facebook page. If someone clicks on a page and finds a photo that disturbs them, they can click off fairly quickly. I guess I don't see a breastfeeding photo as being *so* offensive that the viewer is scarred for life by getting a glimpse.

Trish said...

Okay, but you not wanting to see the photo and thinking that a person doesn't have the right to put up a photo are two different things. I mean, no one is forced to look at anyone's Facebook page. If someone clicks on a page and finds a photo that disturbs them, they can click off fairly quickly. I guess I don't see a breastfeeding photo as being *so* offensive that the viewer is scarred for life by getting a glimpse.


Guinevere,
I don't see breastfeeding as offensive at all. However I do think it is private and personal. I find it a little odd that anyone would want to post photos of themselves doing it.

As far as clicking on an image and then just closing it if you don't want to see it...I disagree with this. People interpret things differently...things show up in your news feed...I don't want to have to worry about closing it out. I certainly am not going to be traumatized in any way...but that doesn't mean I should have to look at it.

I have a very good friend that is what one may say..."au natural"...when she had her first baby we went to visit and were sitting on the couch when she started nursing the baby. I turned to speak with her and low and behold she had her shirt unbuttoned and BOTH breasts were hanging out...even though only one was in use. Now it wasn't just me in the room...both our husbands were as well. She wasn't doing it to be risque...it just wasn't a big deal to her.
That is how I see other people handling it...you never know who else thinks its okay to let it all hang out while they are breast feeding and whether on not they'd post a photo of it.

Hence...facebook has to draw a line somewhere, and I personally don't disagree with how they have handled this issue.

Sorry to be so long winded! :)

Its A Good Thing said...

Why would somebody post that in the first place?

iheartmyhubby said...

This topic is interesting. I saw the story on CNN and went to the petition site on FB. I am a nursing mother who is all for breastfeeding awareness (which the group claims is their main agenda) however they also seem to have another agenda of anti-censorship. They are using breastfeeding as a guise. At least that is what I took away from it. In their last part of the CNN story, it says that they are also looking to test the limits of internet authority.

Guinevere said...

This topic is interesting. I saw the story on CNN and went to the petition site on FB. I am a nursing mother who is all for breastfeeding awareness (which the group claims is their main agenda) however they also seem to have another agenda of anti-censorship. They are using breastfeeding as a guise. At least that is what I took away from it. In their last part of the CNN story, it says that they are also looking to test the limits of internet authority.


You may be right. Whatever my feelings about naked female breasts, I don't understand insisting that a private site that in which participation is wholly optional can't make its own rules about such things.