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Another Day, Another Dispute at Facebook
January 6, 2009 9:06 AM   Subscribe

A NEW FACEBOOK CONTROVERSY A NEW FACEBOOK CONTROVERSY has developed, this time over photos of women breastfeeding their babies. But Facebook is standing firm.. The protesters have also formed a Facebook group, of course, Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding Is Not Obscene. It's not the first controversy at the social networking site and this blog documents activities, rumors and news about Facebook.

The site was criticized after one moron posted photos showing himself costumed as a Virginia Tech shooting victim.

Privacy and user data are always issues at the site. There was the Facebook Beacon program, that tracked users' activities on the Web to a much greater extent than originally anticipated. And for students, there's the matter of parents using Facebook, driving their children crazy. For the love of god -- don't let parents join Facebook has more than 6,400 members, mostly teenagers embarrassed or angry that their parents use the site, fearing a loss of privacy. But not everyone has the same complaint; this blogger was happy to find his grandfather on the site.

And now Facebook itself is battling site aggregator Power.com in an effort to control access to user information.
posted by etaoin (242 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Did the last two posts get stuck in a queue somewhere? I'm never up on the latest memes and my wife is often 3 months behind me, but even she heard about this like last spring.
posted by DU at 9:08 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this something you'd have to have a face to understand?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:10 AM on January 6, 2009 [16 favorites]


Sorry to comment on my own post but the protest was four days ago, so while it may have been around for a while--it was new to me--there are definitely new things happening now.
posted by etaoin at 9:11 AM on January 6, 2009


This thread is worthless without pictures.
posted by monospace at 9:13 AM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I joined this Facebook group when I first joined Facebook (at least a year ago, I guess), back when I still joined groups and added applications and other shit that I immediately ignore and block now. It's been around a while, but has gotten back on the radar with the recent nurse-in and I've seen a lot of my friends joining it all of a sudden.

Anecodotally, I breastfed in public all the damn time without a whole lot of care for "discretion" for a total of close to four years, and nobody ever batted an eyelash. What freaks people out on the internet doesn't even rate a second glance in real life, I guess.
posted by padraigin at 9:14 AM on January 6, 2009


Facebook has stated that they are standing firm unless 1,000,000 JOIN THIS GROUP TODAY AND INVITE EVERYONE!1!

Also, if you don't want parents on your Facebook then check your privacy settings. Kids.
posted by ALongDecember at 9:15 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anecodotally, I breastfed in public all the damn time without a whole lot of care for "discretion" for a total of close to four years, and nobody ever batted an eyelash. What freaks people out on the internet doesn't even rate a second glance in real life, I guess.

Actually, it's probably more that the Internet gives them the fake anonymity that gives them the courage to speak.

Mind you, I'm not saying anything about whether or not they are justified in speaking, I'm only saying that the Internet anonymity just removes a layer of self-censorship and "stage fright" that may be all that is inhibiting some people.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:17 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


At the risk of boyzoning things: May I ask if there's some hormonal flux at work that makes breastfeeding advocates so - please excuse me - touchy?

They're glands - not entitlements.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:21 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I bet no one would care a bit if Facebook removed pictures of men breastfeeding their babies. Once again, lactating males are the real victims here.
posted by logicpunk at 9:21 AM on January 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


I probably have the wrong perspective on this, but if I were a woman I think I wouldn't breastfeed in public. Not because it would offend someone but because I prefer to stay dressed in public. But that goes 100x more on the Internet, where there's no social pressure not to stare or worse.

I mean, look at what goes on on 4chan and elsewhere. If you are OK with someone potentially taking your bonding-with-my-child moment and using MS Paint to add a Hitler moustache to a nipple, that's up to you.
posted by DU at 9:23 AM on January 6, 2009


Is there a "Thanks Facebook that icks me out too" group?
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:24 AM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is this something you'd have to have a face to understand?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:10 PM on January 6


For those not aware, the name comes from a book which was (and still is?) handed out to Harvard undergraduates. It listed all the other undergraduates, primarily as a headshot with a little bit of info underneath each portrait. Everyone would spend some time browsing through the "facebook" getting to know their fellow undergrads and of course, figuring out the name of that hot guy or girl you saw in class the other day.

(This post is also the only way I can gratuitously mention that I am approximately the 7,000th member of Facebook. It was shown to me in its early years, I created an account and only re-discovered it last year.)
posted by vacapinta at 9:26 AM on January 6, 2009


Rule #1 of Internet community management: don't fuck with breastfeeding moms.
posted by Nelson at 9:28 AM on January 6, 2009 [10 favorites]


Joe Beese writes: At the risk of boyzoning things: May I ask if there's some hormonal flux at work that makes breastfeeding advocates so - please excuse me - touchy?

I think you might be better off keeping these sorts of opinions to yourself.
posted by anifinder at 9:29 AM on January 6, 2009 [16 favorites]


At the risk of boyzoning things: May I ask if there's some hormonal flux at work that makes breastfeeding advocates so - please excuse me - touchy?

They're glands - not entitlements.


Ah, let's blame the hormones. It has nothing to do with the insistance that feeding your child is considered obscene. The insistance that the only place a woman should do this when out of the house is in a nappy change room or a toilet, or just not go out in public at all until the kid is old enough for solids. Perhaps its the idea that a part of one's body that functions beautifully to sustain the life of a child is considered a sex toy to such a degree that it's orginal purpose is considered secondary to the erotic. That people get icked out by a kid having its dinner.

But nah, it must be hormones. There's no other reason to be touchy.
posted by Jilder at 9:30 AM on January 6, 2009 [73 favorites]


A NEW FACEBOOK CONTROVERSY!!
posted by saul wright at 9:30 AM on January 6, 2009


Harvard must be unusually strait-laced. Even the officials at our conservative, religous college in the Midwest called it a "Bod Book".
posted by DU at 9:30 AM on January 6, 2009


Oh, and I suspect one is, in fact, entitled to feed one's child.
posted by Jilder at 9:31 AM on January 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


...back when I still joined groups and added applications and other shit that I immediately ignore and block now

Amen.

This is something of a derail, but I sometimes wish that the designers/programmers/whatevers had chosen a more neutral word than 'friend.' I'd like to 'friend' people that went to elementary school with, but that was 40 years ago. Flickr and Linkedin both use the more generic 'contact.' It would be nice if there were some logic that automated some of the processes, like 'classmates' get a set of privileges, 'contacts' get another and 'friends' get more.
posted by fixedgear at 9:35 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


What about MOOBIES! Men need love too! We aim to please!
posted by doctorschlock at 9:35 AM on January 6, 2009


Well Joe I don't think your question is going to end well, but I can tell you that my wife likes to use discretion in public when breastfeeding becuase they are HER boobs and she doesn't want everyone looking at them. It's a personal/private space issue.
posted by Big_B at 9:37 AM on January 6, 2009


let's blame the hormones

I was trying to consider extenuating circumstances - having been lectured how men don't understand PMS. Frankly, if that's not a consideration, the abrasive militancy of nursing advocates seems even less justified.

one is, in fact, entitled to feed one's child.

There are lots of things one is entitled to do that can't be done in public. Examples available on request.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:37 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, Facebook is American, and breasts are offensive to Americans. Those babies should just learn to accept that, and drink from bottles instead.
posted by Artw at 9:41 AM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't think breastfeeding is obscene. But I can't think of any reason someone would need to post a picture of themself breastfeeding on Facebook. Once someone can give me a good reason for doing so, I might be sympathetic to this whole brouhaha.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:43 AM on January 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


May I ask if there's some hormonal flux at work that makes breastfeeding advocates so - please excuse me - touchy?

I get touchy about this and I'm a childless male. Why should a woman have to hide herself just to feed her fucking baby? Get over yourself. If a breast is just a gland, then what's "obscene" about her using it for its natural function?
posted by creasy boy at 9:48 AM on January 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


I am a woman and I would never ever be caught breastfeeding in public. I have seen many women do it-- and it is very disheartening let me tell you. I see all the guys leering at them and trying to get a good look at their breasts. Please ladies stop being exhibitionists... that's what you are. No you shouldn't have pictures of you breastfeeding online. Your friends, relatives and employers can look at your breasts now. Just for that reason alone you shouldn't do it.
posted by flipyourwig at 9:49 AM on January 6, 2009


I can actually see Facebook's position.

I mean, who wants to be cruising Facebook and suddenly come across pictures of babies? BABIES! Babies, right out there in public, with their enormous cheeks and bald heads like miniature Winston Churchill’s! I mean CHILDREN might see these things!

Don't this people have any sense of decency or morality, showing babies out in public? If they're going to indulge in babies, can't they at least keep them at home, behind closed curtains?
posted by happyroach at 9:52 AM on January 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


Oh, and I suspect one is, in fact, entitled to feed one's child.

Oh, if only there were some way to do that without posting it on Facebook.

Snark aside, if Facebook has a no nipple policy then that's their prerogative.

I don't know why we're bringing the "breastfeeding in public" debate into this. Women should be allowed to do this (and are, afaik, though I guess it depends on where you are). Hell, women should also be allowed to go topless in the same situations as men if they want (it's this way in Ontario already).

I guess you could argue that by pushing for Facebook to change its policy that you're helping to shift attitudes towards public breastfeeding. I'd say it's more likely that you're annoying the company and polarizing people.
posted by ODiV at 9:52 AM on January 6, 2009


They're glands - not entitlements.

Right! Just glands! Which is why I'm free to bare them on my chest and let them be aired by the breeze and kissed by the sun, right? If it's a sweltering hot day I can just take my top off and go for a walk in the park with my boyfriend, shirtless us both! For these pretty little tits are just glands. And nobody ever made a big ruckus over them, because all they're for is feeding a kid I don't even have. Nobody bothers me about them or makes rules about the fashion in which they are housed or what they should look like, because who cares about my damn glands?

Oh, wait, horny stupid men care. And made a fuckton of rules that are still on the books. They cared THIS fucking much about our glands. Or maybe it was their glands that they cared about, since mine would love to be a bit freer.

And then, oh happy day they they are finally used for their purpose! The struggle and the satisfaction of breastfeeding an innocent, tiny child, surely one of the most touching miracles of life to behold. Oh, but that's obscene because it shows a boob. And a little dude SUCKING on it. Or is that a little chick? CAN'T EVEN TELL THE GENDER OF IT YET! Weiners don't know what to do when they see that. Up? Down!? Is it arousing??! Is it wrong?! Ugg confused. Ugg must get out of Applebees and go back to cave to jerk off and cry.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:52 AM on January 6, 2009 [70 favorites]


There are lots of things that people don't NEED to post photos of. I'd say pretty much all of them.

I am always shocked that breastfeeding is considered something "private." It's feeding your kid!

Just because this culture has decided brests are only useful for putting on display does not make it so.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:53 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't think of any reason someone would need to post a picture of themself breastfeeding on Facebook. Once someone can give me a good reason for doing so, I might be sympathetic to this whole brouhaha.

If Jilder's statements are representative, I assume they believe they are striking a blow against the oppressive sexualization of the female breast.

Good enough?
posted by Joe Beese at 9:54 AM on January 6, 2009


abrasive militancy of nursing advocates

Abrasive militancy? Good god. If you want to paint the nursing advocates with a broad brush, it's probably more like they are online more than other groups and can easily self-organize using social software tools. I haven't seen anything come from them that I'd describe with the extreme hyperbole of "abrasive" or even "militant".

And frankly, even if some are, it's due to the attitudes they're met with in the world that Jilder describes well.
posted by mathowie at 9:54 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I see all the guys leering at them and trying to get a good look at their breasts. Please ladies stop being exhibitionists... that's what you are.

The breastfeeding women feeding their children in public are not the problem. The creepy men are.
posted by mathowie at 9:56 AM on January 6, 2009 [45 favorites]


Please ladies stop being exhibitionists... that's what you are. No you shouldn't have pictures of you breastfeeding online. Your friends, relatives and employers can look at your breasts now. Just for that reason alone you shouldn't do it.
posted by flipyourwig at 9:49 AM on January 6 [+] [!]


See, this sort of thing just shocks me, maybe because I didn't grow up with it. No, they aren't exhibitionists. They're FEEDING THEIR KID! Why should a woman have to spend 20 minutes every 2 hours in purdah because this country has fetishized breasts as for sex only?
posted by small_ruminant at 9:58 AM on January 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


I am sympathetic, as my own leanings tend towards fettering expression less. But I think it is strange to see this as Facebook targeting breastfeeding mothers or calling them obscene. Some of the rhetoric is pretty ridiculous.

They aren't calling breastfeeding mothers obscene, but they have established a rule against nudity. There is all sorts of nudity that Facebook might not desire to have on their web site without it being anywhere near obscene or even indecent. In fact, having bright-line rules such as "no women's nipples in photos when someone complains about it" allows Facebook to stay out of case-by-case judgments of obscenity and indecency which I think is a good thing. There are, in fact, plenty of photos right there on the protest group's albums that show breastfeeding and exposed nipples and they are still there.

It seems that these advocates would be happy with one of the following outcomes:I'd be fine with any of these outcomes, really. Despite the status quo having unequal effects on men and women, I think it recognizes that in American society the bare chests of men are appropriate more often than the bare chests of women. Maybe this should be changed, but trying to get Facebook to be the vanguard of this change is tilting at windmills. I doubt Facebook is going to budge on this, even if the backlash gets much, much bigger, because they are far more interested in not being seen to be purveyors of nudity, obscene or otherwise.

I think a specific exception for breastfeeding would be odd. There are valid complaints against establishments that try to prevent breastfeeding to reduce nudity, because this makes it more difficult to feed the children. But Facebook is not stopping children from being breastfed; it only stops people from displaying photos of the same on someone else's web site.
posted by grouse at 9:58 AM on January 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


I just assumed flipyourwig was being facetious to make a point. Now I'm not so sure.
posted by ODiV at 9:59 AM on January 6, 2009


I'm sorry, mathowie - which is it? Are nursing advocates not militant? Or are they militant for a good reason?
posted by Joe Beese at 10:00 AM on January 6, 2009


The breastfeeding women feeding their children in public are not the problem. The creepy men are.

Can the e-conomy withstand kicking creepy men off the Internet?
posted by DU at 10:02 AM on January 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh I was joking. Please lighten up people.
posted by flipyourwig at 10:02 AM on January 6, 2009


If Jilder's statements are representative, I assume they believe they are striking a blow against the oppressive sexualization of the female breast. Good enough?

I dunno. I get what they're going for, I really do, I think it's important for women to feel comfortable feeding their children, but I don't think that Facebook is the proper field for this battle. Having the freedom to post pictures of yourself breastfeeding is not the same as having the freedom to breastfeed a child, and I don't believe that more of the former is going to positively impact the latter. I have friends who breastfeed in front of me, and that's fine, but if they started posting pictures of it on Facebook for me and everyone to see? I just don't think that's necessary, and in some ways, I think it comes off as a little obnoxious. Don't pick a fight and then get mad when someone fights back.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:03 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


People, people. There's reason enough to blame all parties in this equation.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:04 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for reassuring me, flip. Other people would make the same statements with a straight face though. Without seeing yours, it's hard to know what you meant.
posted by ODiV at 10:04 AM on January 6, 2009


FYI I am breastfeeding two babies in public right now.
posted by flipyourwig at 10:04 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


At the risk of boyzoning things: May I ask if there's some hormonal flux at work that makes breastfeeding advocates so - please excuse me - touchy? They're glands - not entitlements.

Clearly not, since this puritan bullshit causes the red mist to descend for me too.

Myabe you should try the following thought experiment – You’re a member of a social networking site, you put some photos up online yourself with some friends at a barbeque – you had a happy fun time that summer, and you want to remember it and share the memories.

Then one day your photos are gone. You get an email from your social networking site – militant vegetarians have complained and that they have decided to update their gidelines. Some people in your photo are quite clearly eating meat products, and have juice form the meat visible on their faces. This is against the new guidelines.

Would your reaction not be “what the fuck? Why should *they* get to tell me if I can share photos of an utterly normal part of my life with my friends? Those were my happy memories I was sharing, and I’ve been prevented from doing that now”. Would that not be your reaction even if you would not normally go out in public with meat juice on your face?
posted by Artw at 10:05 AM on January 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Sorry, flipyourwig. I've heard women say what you said so I thought you were serious. Granted, they were my grandmother's generation, but still...
posted by small_ruminant at 10:05 AM on January 6, 2009


At the risk of boyzoning things: May I ask if there's some hormonal flux at work that makes breastfeeding advocates so - please excuse me - touchy?

They're glands - not entitlements.
posted by Joe Beese


Actually, I'd be happy to address this with a somewhat expert opinion. I used to blog for a popular online parenting magazine, and stories like this were always prime fodder, so I've had a pretty significant amount of experience with the subject from multiple points of view, and my conclusion is that most women who get involved in the boob wars are, myself included, accidental activists, and I think they come by it honestly.

A mother starts out with a certain amount of indoctrination about the wonders of breastfeeding before she even has the child, thanks to the current medical establishment/"parenting expert" point of view on the subject. Kid's not even born yet and you may already stressing over whether you'll be able to live up to the task of providing your child with the best possible nutrition.

Once the baby is born, you discover that breastfeeding is pretty much the only thing you're doing, and therefore it's almost all you think about. You cannot possibly imagine how much time is spent breastfeeding a newborn. Even if you've had one before, because it seems academic once you're removed from the situation. It's near-constant. It is your life.

Depending on where you live and who you hang out with, there can be a lot of social pressures regarding breastfeeding: whether you do it at all, whether you do it exclusively, whether you do it for an extended period of time, whether you continue if you return to work, etc. You can of course ignore this pressure, but you're still going to be aware of it.

Eventually you're so adjusted to the idea that your breasts have a functional as well as aesthetic purpose, and so used to codeswitching on their behalf, that you become frustrated that the rest of the world can't do the same, because goddamnit, the baby's got to eat again, and you just read a story about some poor woman getting thrown out of a coffee shop or off of an airplane for offending someone with a tiny bit of side-boob.

Next thing you know, you're signing online petitions.

In fairness I think a lot of parents would do the same if the public consumption of goldfish crackers became an issue.
posted by padraigin at 10:06 AM on January 6, 2009 [45 favorites]


I see all the guys leering at them and trying to get a good look at their breasts. Please ladies stop being exhibitionists...

The first sentence here identifies a problem: "guys leering at them". The second sentence begins: "Please ladies stop".

Fascinating.
posted by creasy boy at 10:08 AM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Are nursing advocates not militant? Or are they militant for a good reason?

I was saying that your description sounded over the top, but if you could spot one example of someone fitting it, it was likely due to the weird prevailing attitudes about it.
posted by mathowie at 10:12 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think mothers should definitely be able to breastfeed in public because not being able to might be a hassle. I also think they should be able to have pictures of breastfeeding in facebook because it's harmless and not obscene. The thing is, while I think it is a problem worth worrying about that there are people who don't want people breastfeeding in public and want it banned, I don't think it is a problem that there is a website where you can't put up pictures where you are breastfeeding. Why care? Why is this form of commercial expression important to you? That all your friends can see you breast feeding and by friends I mean people that you can half remember from high school. Why care? You don't say it's not obscene, you get to be right but why care? You're fine with not allowing other nudity... does that mean that you think nudity in general is obscene? I don't get why this is a deal at all let alone a big deal. Facebook has a logical reason for doing something that you kind of don't like but really shouldn't make any difference.
posted by I Foody at 10:13 AM on January 6, 2009


The real controversy that no one will talk about is that Facebook keeps pictures of breastfeeding women playing Scrabble locked in a vault, sealed 200 ft underground.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:15 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


A NEW METAFILTER CONTROVERSY.
posted by jason's_planet at 10:17 AM on January 6, 2009


flipyourwig -- sorry, I should've previewed, and the tone of your first post was very convincing.
posted by creasy boy at 10:18 AM on January 6, 2009


Huh. Well, I breastfeed my child in public (and am dismayed when people have a creepy/angry reaction to it) and I think I would not like a photo of me breastfeeding on facebook. Although I'm not sure why.
posted by gaspode at 10:19 AM on January 6, 2009


So all you boys better stop finding glands attractive. Right.
posted by Big_B at 10:19 AM on January 6, 2009


If a breast is just a gland, then what's "obscene" about her using it for its natural function?

By that logic, a penis is just an extension of the prostate gland/testes, so there should be no problems with my cranking one off next to the woman breastfeeding, they're both just natural body functions. But I want to look at the guys leering over the boobies, not the boobies, so maybe I'm not the totally 'natural' test case.
posted by nomisxid at 10:21 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't think of any reason someone would need to post a picture of themself breastfeeding drunk on a beach/wearing a silly hat/at the top of a mountain/riding their new bike/playing with their dog

etc.

I can't think of a good reason why people do all kinds of shit (let alone post photographic evidence), and yet, if it's not hurting anyone, and they're being yelled at for posting pictures of themselves doing the legal, noninjurious thing, then I have total sympathy for them.
posted by rtha at 10:22 AM on January 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yeah, it's absolutely true that society has not only fetishized breasts but breast-feeding with the two things being almost directly opposed. I mean many people think that a woman is a bad mother if she doesn't breastfeed similarly many people also go batshit insane (way beyond any reasonable reaction) when they see a woman breastfeed in public. I mean, Bill Maher is on the record as saying that breastfeeding in public is like public masturbation. If that isn't a ridiculous overreaction then I don't know what is. This all comes from a place which says: "women should cover their breasts lest men get aroused". If that doesn't mean that creepy men are the problem here, then I don't know what does. If you don't like it, don't look at it. People get offended by a whole bunch of things and I don't see why, at least in the US, the offended get to have the louder voice.
posted by ob at 10:22 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some dude had sex with Airwolf - let's ban helicopters.
posted by Artw at 10:22 AM on January 6, 2009


Doing something on facebook is not the same as doing it "in public". Your rights are not being violated if they remove your pictures because you don't have such "rights" in the first place.
The breastfeeding - good or bad? argument is moot.
posted by rocket88 at 10:25 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think that not knowing how to react and being a bit embarrassed when women breastfeed in public makes you an "EVIL PERVERT THAT SUBJEGATES THE SISTERHOOD". There's a learnt cultural thing about breasts being covered up which affects a huge proportion of the non-evil world.

There's a head / heart thing at play here with some men (i.e. me) which has the head saying "Breast feeding - perfectly natural - no need to worry - this is fine." and a heart thing that says "boobies. omg. Maintain eye contact - argh - I think I saw a nipple and now I'll be forever branded a pervert"

I'd prefer it if there wasn't the weird cultural discomfort with breast feeding. But it's there, and it's no suprise that an ultra-conservative website like facebook would take the easy option and remove breast feeding pictures.

Not to say that people shouldn't fire letters off to facebook asking that they review their policy. They should. But I don't think that facebook or prudish facebook users should be classified so harshly.
posted by seanyboy at 10:28 AM on January 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Maybe you should try the following thought experiment...

Tried it, though I had difficulty with the fact that carnivorism is the societal norm and exposure of the female breast in public - for whatever reason - is not. I get this much: No one likes being told that society doesn't dig their scene.

But this whole kerfuffle still seems to me a manifestation of the parental tunnel vision that we find so unendearing in other contexts. Truly, did these women feel greatly impinged by the norms against public nudity - however disequitably applied against women - before Junior became the Single Most Important Thing In The World? I think not. But the moment they postponed the delivery of the life-giving milk... Écrasez l'Infâme!

Mind you, I give the fierceness of the maternal instinct its due. None of us would be here without it. But that doesn't mean it produces sound arguments for social change.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:28 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh I was joking. Please lighten up people.
posted by flipyourwig at 10:02 AM on January 6


And now flipyourwig wants to change people's skin color!! OH THE CONTROVERSY!
posted by gurple at 10:29 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


flipyourwig...the tone of your first post was very convincing.

I agree, holy smokes. I think I actually gasped when I read your comment.

It's strange to me how some people are so weirded-out by breastfeeding. It was never really an issue for our family. Is it an American thing? Maybe if breasts had big guns attached to them the menfolk would feel more relaxed.

I can't think of any reason someone would need to post a picture of themself breastfeeding on Facebook

As small_ruminant said above, why do people post anything online? Why is everyone and their mom YouTubing themselves doing that Beyonce dance? Hardly out of need.
posted by chococat at 10:31 AM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


it's no suprise that an ultra-conservative website like facebook would take the easy option and remove breast feeding pictures.

What's interesting is that Facebook really only removes pictures if they receive a user complaint. And it's going to be a complaint from someone who sees your picture- a "friend" or "friend" of a "friend", most likely. That's sort of funny to me- those taking a stand against Facebook should probably go take a stand against their "friends" first. Of course, that's not nearly as easy, and given the choice between that and going after Facebook, I'd choose the latter, too.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:32 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Please ladies stop being exhibitionists... that's what you are. No you shouldn't have pictures of you breastfeeding online. Your friends, relatives and employers can look at your breasts now. Just for that reason alone you shouldn't do it.
posted by flipyourwig at 9:49 AM on January 6 [+] [!]


A woman doesn't have to strip to the waist to breastfeed, you know. I breastfed in public. A lot. Daily. Multiple times. For months. Mostly, you would never know that I was doing it. I didn't even use one of those stupid nursing covers or a big shawl or anything. Just moved things around a bit and held the baby up to nurse.

In most of the photos that were removed, you'll see less of the woman's breast than you would if she was wearing a swimsuit.
posted by anastasiav at 10:32 AM on January 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


It's weird. Friends of mine of facebook post pictures of themselves all the time....and I rarely look at them. Is this not an option anymore in fb? Is it now required that you click on every. single. picture your friends post? Is it now required that fb members actually look at every single picture on the site, even those of people who are not friends? Because I'm not seeing how the photos are...invasive. They're either photos of people you already know, or you can't see them because they're not of people you know and the settings are such that you can't look at them, or - if the privacy settings are set to be as open as possible - you still have to deliberately go looking for them.
posted by rtha at 10:35 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


or - if the privacy settings are set to be as open as possible - you still have to deliberately go looking for them.

Not necessarily. Sometimes my friends comment on other peoples' pictures, and that pops up in my News Feed, giving me a link into that photo album of a person I don't know. And do I look? Yes, I generally do. Curious, nosy, whatever you call it, I look. Either because I'm curious to see the life of a friend's friend, or they're displaying something I want to look at (weddings, babies, puppies). Is it fair for me to report pictures of someone I don't know? I don't know, maybe not; but on the other hand, I think I'd be more likely to report pictures of someone I don't know than someone I do know. Perhaps that's an argument for keeping one's photo privacy settings limited to friends only.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:41 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


But this whole kerfuffle still seems to me a manifestation of the parental tunnel vision that we find so unendearing in other contexts.

"We"? Speak for yourself, for fuck's sake. Also, you seem to be enjoying stirring up shit for its own sake; you also appear to think of women as some alien species. I hope you get past this stuff in your personal journey toward maturity.
posted by languagehat at 10:43 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are lots of things that people don't NEED to post photos of. I'd say pretty much all of them.

True enough. I suspect that 70% of the photos on Facebook are of groups of two or three people grinning self-consciously at the camera in a bar, and I have never understood that myself.

"Well, it looks like you have gone out drinking with other people! A lot! How fascinating that must have been!"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:44 AM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Here's where I stand:

Women are free to breastfeed in public.
Facebook is free to set whatever kind of policies they want on their own site--a site that you benefit from at no cost.
If you don't like it, you are free to register www.justlikefacebookbutwithbreastfeedingpicturesallowed.com and start advertising.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:45 AM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, it IS annoying when everyone puts status updates about the banal minutiae of their private lives, or posting about every headache or stomach ailment that befalls them. But a picture of a baby suckling its mothers teat? Well, I ain't looking, but by all means go for it, mothers of the USA. We all reallllly want to see your bloated, flappy boobs stuffed in the faces of your kin. Yeah, that's great. Thanks a lot.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 10:45 AM on January 6, 2009


I think smoking in public is disgusting. There now, I've said it. Keep it in the bathroom with a towel under the door so the smell doesn't get out.
posted by doctorschlock at 10:47 AM on January 6, 2009


I don't mind public breastfeeding as long as both mother and infant are declawed and baptized.

Me, I like to contribute.
posted by everichon at 10:53 AM on January 6, 2009


I'd go further to say that smokers should be shot on sight.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:55 AM on January 6, 2009


We all reallllly want to see your bloated, flappy boobs stuffed in the faces of your kin. Yeah, that's great. Thanks a lot.

Call your mother.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:57 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's the mothers giving their infants drags off their cigarettes in public that disgusts me.
posted by everichon at 10:57 AM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think smoking in public is disgusting.

I have friends who smoke cigarettes and are articulate, educated, (sometimes) witty, and attractive. But whenever I see someone smoking cigarettes in public I think, "You poor, stupid motherfucker."

The U.S. needs to lighten up on breasts. I thought we be seeing nipples on magazine covers by now. Then come the schlongs!
posted by mrgrimm at 11:05 AM on January 6, 2009


"We"? Speak for yourself, for fuck's sake. Also, you seem to be enjoying stirring up shit for its own sake; you also appear to think of women as some alien species. I hope you get past this stuff in your personal journey toward maturity.

How could I resist such a charmingly phrased request?

OK. I personally find the parental tunnel vision that leads to screaming children in movie theaters and public nursing militancy irritating, if inevitable. And if I thought it worth the trouble, I think it would be extremely easy to collect more than enough examples of people complaining about publicly inconsiderate parenting to justify the first person plural that seems to have stuck in your craw.

As for your assumptions about my commenting motives and views of women...

Note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.

posted by Joe Beese at 11:10 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


This picture raises an interesting point.
posted by minifigs at 11:10 AM on January 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


I created a Breast Feeding Moms Gallery on my site as soon as I found out about this. And I even decided to not discriminate against women without children. I've had no takers, so obviously there can't be that big of a void out there.

And Facebook created an advocacy ad, depicting a woman breast feeding her baby, and tried to run it in a bunch of markets, but was unable to get one newspaper to run the ad. So they're not alone on this one.

I understand it's a biological process and shouldn't be considered "dirty," but there's plenty of things people would rather not have to see.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:12 AM on January 6, 2009


Then come the schlongs! Send in the schlongs. Don't bother.....they're here.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:12 AM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


More germanely, here's one issue that hasn't been mentioned: breastfeeding is very hard. Nobody really tells you that, and the pressure for women to breastfeed is very strong.

So I can understand why women who've gone through the extremely challenging first 1-6 weeks of breastfeeding feel a very well-deserved sense of accomplishment and want to share that with their friends.

However, Facebook is a private publisher and can set whatever rules it likes. It probably seems silly to most of us, but oh well. If you don't like it, don't use the site.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:13 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


if you could spot one example of someone fitting it, it was likely due to the weird prevailing attitudes about it.

I think people's strong feelings about the feeding of their own child and the support of others to behave in exactly the same manner as they are feeds this as much as "prevailing" attitudes. One must take positions with the arrival of the baby that seem pedantic but have various implications: how one plans to deliver, how one will diaper the child, how one plans on feeding the child and into more controversial ones such as circumcision and naming. These choices are value-laden and as self-defining as politics. These decisions are personal, strongly-held and indeed made by a large percentage of the populace who will be more than happy to discuss their opinions on the subject. Breastfeeding, being not universally easy or attractive to all women and very much the current mode is obviously one of the larger flashpoint issues.

How this translates into "I must show nipple to show nursing child, and your social software business absolutely most accomodate my photos" I am largely unable to say past it being within the hold of social change approaching political correctness: nursing has become a protected activity through strong-willed efforts which spill over into areas not appropriate. Frame the picture differently, find another website, come to the realization that not every special moment needs to be photographed and uploaded. Internet Drama needs to be left behind by successful parents.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:14 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


This picture raises an interesting point.

That is pretty great. But of course, commercial speech takes precedence over personal expression in Web 2.0 land ...
posted by mrgrimm at 11:15 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


This whole jizzbag talk about breastfeeding in public would be more tolerable if they used
professional non-smoking D-cup porn stars as models.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:16 AM on January 6, 2009


But this whole kerfuffle still seems to me a manifestation of the parental tunnel vision that we find so unendearing in other contexts. Truly, did these women feel greatly impinged by the norms against public nudity - however disequitably applied against women - before Junior became the Single Most Important Thing In The World? I think not.

You think wrong. Plenty of people without children find it ridiculous when breastfeeding women are glared at, asked to hide in a bathroom stall, subjected to running commentary about their shame or lack thereof, etc. It's not uncommon.

And if you don't believe me, well, here's some evidence -- a petition on Facebook decrying the notion that breastfeeding women are "obscene." Y'know, the subject of this post. You don't think that only parents have been signing that thing?
posted by desuetude at 11:16 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was breastfed. My Mom is new to Facebook [actually it's sort of great to have her on Facebook because we can play Scrabble and have sort of daily incidental contact without her calling me on the phone every day] it was sort of neat for me to see her be like "Oh hey, this breastfeeding photo ban is sort of weird..." and it spawned a great discussion about the idea of private/public spaces online and what people do and do not consider okay and I enjoyed talking about it. My personal opinion is that it would be super simple for facebook to have a "legit breastfeeding pix okay" policy but as a site moderator myself -- on a site that gets a lot more personal attention than I'm sure the bulk of facebook gets -- I can see all sorts of annoying edge case scenarios that might make this policy impractical for a site the size of facebook.

The bigger problem is just that facebook is so big and so popular and so ubiquitous that any big "you can't do this here" statement is likely to get the OMG CENSORSHIP reply from someone and spark some sort of backlash, and they're not great communicators (their policies are super faceless, there's no public place to talk to the facebook admin team like people, I think....) and so these things quickly spiral. Remember when they decided Brandon Blatcher wasn't a person?
posted by jessamyn at 11:17 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


a petition on Facebook decrying the notion that breastfeeding women are "obscene."

But that notion is a straw man when it comes to Facebook.
posted by grouse at 11:18 AM on January 6, 2009


No shirt, no shoes, no servicing your baby.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:21 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have Facebook issues also, plus having installed Little Snitch lately, I'm seeing odd communications between Facebook and my computer, even when I'm not using it.

Facebook may be Skynet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:23 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


What desuetude said. I'm childless and, frankly, rather against kids, especially when they come in double-wide designer strollers pushed by entitled 50-year-old mothers, but the idea of being hassling them in any way for breastfeeding? That is sexism plain and simple. Yeah, maybe don't breastfeed in the middle of the aisle while chatting with friends, but at that point the breast isn't the issue.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:24 AM on January 6, 2009


did these women feel greatly impinged by the norms against public nudity - however disequitably applied against women - before Junior became the Single Most Important Thing In The World? I think not.

Funny, I pretty clearly expressed that I, for one, do. Hello? Woman talking? Hey, up here!

Illegal to be topless, without a burqua, potayto potahto. What we are allowed to do with our bodies is freedom, what we are "forced" to see, hear or otherwise endure by going among others, like their sexy sexy ankles or their loud three-year old voices, or their kid drinking breastmilk from their actual breast, is just life. Freedom from life sounds horrid to me, just horrid.

And these limitations reflect an issue that does not only effect women, rather whole cultures, though somehow women's bodies are primarily the ones that remain so fucking amazing and murderably taboo. This is stupid and we should grow out of it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:25 AM on January 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Breastfeeding seems to be the hot-button health issue of the last few years, just like the concept of discussing masturbation in Sex Ed class in public schools was in the 90's. In both cases it's a topic that involves one person making a choice that everyone else feels they must weigh in on, even though they haven't been invited to join.
posted by Paid In Full at 11:26 AM on January 6, 2009


Is this another of those American/European things? I don't recall ever hearing a mum complaining about having her titties ogled while breastfeeding in public.

A massive thumbs up for public breastfeeding.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:26 AM on January 6, 2009


Then come the schlongs!

Woot!
Who wants to join my Schlongs Belong on Facebook group?
posted by rmless at 11:28 AM on January 6, 2009


Is this another of those American/European things? I don't recall ever hearing a mum complaining about having her titties ogled while breastfeeding in public.

Lindsey Black, a 29-year-old mother of two from Southport, Merseyside, was asked to leave a branch of McDonald’s while breastfeeding her baby daughter in the restaurant. After twice being told to stop breastfeeding or leave, Black was forced to breastfeed in the lavatories.

Mothers are to get the legal right to breast-feed in public places and discrimination against female members of golf clubs will be outlawed under a overhaul of equality laws... It proposes following Scotland's lead and giving women in England and Wales the right to breastfeed in restaurants, cafes and shops, as well as on trains and buses. Alison Baum, of the Breast-feeding Manifesto Coalition, said: "A woman needs to have the confidence that she isn't going to be asked to stop."

"It is to stop a form of discrimination that stops parents from feeding their children in public areas."

So while the UK deserves a huzzah for its progressive legislation, no Virginia, hang-ups about public breastfeeding are not the sole domain of the USA.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:35 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's facebook's sandbox, if displaying your glandular prowess to the world is that important to you then find a different sandbox. Also, what Ambrosia Voyeur said about your own friends are the ones who are grossed out/offended and turning you in.
posted by mullingitover at 11:37 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


And by Ambrosia Voyeur I mean ThePinkSuperhero.
posted by mullingitover at 11:42 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, what Ambrosia Voyeur said about your own friends are the ones who are grossed out/offended and turning you in.

It's totally natural to breastfeed your friends in public, but you still ought to get a waiver before publishing photos of them on the Internet.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:44 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


You think wrong. Plenty of people without children find it ridiculous when breastfeeding women are glared at, asked to hide in a bathroom stall, subjected to running commentary about their shame or lack thereof, etc. It's not uncommon.

I, childless, find it ridiculous myself. But what I also find ridiculous is the umbrage being taken at Facebook's decision - which seems to translate as: "How dare they say that my nursing breast is a sexual obscenity!"

You know what? Facebook really doesn't give a shit about mothers, breasts, or the infants attached to them. They mostly just don't want to be sued by other parents who will scream that their Preciouses were emotionally damaged by the sight of nipples.

See what a nuisance militant parents can be?
posted by Joe Beese at 11:48 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


And by Ambrosia Voyeur I mean ThePinkSuperhero.

Yeah, tough to tell us apart sometimes! /sarcasm

Although on that point, I completely agree, whether it's done in activism or just courtesy, knowing the social mores of your milieu and reacting to them is bravest and most gratifying when done personally, not through the protective sanctions of an organization. But the organization does deserve to be addressed as well.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:51 AM on January 6, 2009


did these women feel greatly impinged by the norms against public nudity - however disequitably applied against women - before Junior became the Single Most Important Thing In The World? I think not. But the moment they postponed the delivery of the life-giving milk... Écrasez l'Infâme!

Probably not, because before they became breastfeeding moms, the norms against public nudity wouldn't have the effect of confining them to their homes.

I'm with ya on parental tunnel vision about their widdle piddle darlings, but the days when women had to suffer through a confinement after birthing a baby should be long gone. This is just as much a women's issue as a parent issue. Parenting still tends to place a disproportionate burden on women, especially during infancy. All this nonsense about breastfeeding in public just makes it that much harder for women who want to have a baby and a life.

There's a head / heart thing at play here with some men (i.e. me) which has the head saying "Breast feeding - perfectly natural - no need to worry - this is fine." and a heart thing that says "boobies. omg. Maintain eye contact - argh - I think I saw a nipple and now I'll be forever branded a pervert"

This happens with women too. We're not used to seeing boobs in public. Not being a mother myself (so, no crazy hormones here Joe Beese!), I think the issue is just that we should deal with our discomfort politely and discreetly, and not act like nursing mothers are militant, hormone crazed, exhibitionist perpetrators of parental tunnel vision.
posted by Mavri at 12:08 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a recent facebook user, I gotta say I sure hope the ads run in the right column don't reflect on the average intelligence of the facebook userbase. They're actually some of the lowest-rung, sleaziest ads (not necessarily sexual, just a wash-your-brain way) I'd seen outside of porn sites.

This is a non-issue. As mentioned above, the solution is to set the permissions to "friends only," or if someone complains about a photo, have the admins of facebook set the image permanently to "friends only" unless it is actually obscene. If your goal is to share with the entire world, flickr and a million other sites can help.
posted by maxwelton at 12:19 PM on January 6, 2009


This picture raises an interesting point.

But half-naked people make ad revenue for Facebook. What the breastfeeding contingent need to do is align themselves with an Evenflo or Gerber ad campaign. If it can make Facebook money then there's no controversy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:20 PM on January 6, 2009


What the breastfeeding contingent need to do is align themselves with an Evenflo or Gerber ad campaign.

Got Milk?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:26 PM on January 6, 2009


before they became breastfeeding moms, the norms against public nudity wouldn't have the effect of confining them to their homes

"Confining them to their homes"? While forced to wear the burqas Ambrosia referred to, no doubt.

I know that women's lives are impinged upon in all kinds of ways - many of which don't even occur to a well-cosseted citizen of the patriarchy like me. But this kind of hyperbole is silly.

No one is confining lactating women to their homes. Is anyone even making an absolute demand that they find a private area when feeding? Are women routinely hassled when nursing beneath a towel or some other kind of cover?

Some people don't want to see that breast because they find it unattractive. Some because they find it all too attractive. Some because Jeebus said they'll burn in Hell if they look. You get no argument from me that they all ought to grow up.

But they do add up to a majority - or at least a perceived majority. And any commercial enterprise is bound, for its own survival, to take their moronic prejudices into account. And to bewail that reality strikes me as an immaturity no less foolish than theirs.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:32 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey Joe,

When you quote the user policy, i.e.,
Note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.


Would you mind if I just pasted your comments in this thread back at you that exemplify you not following them?

They're glands - not entitlements
There are lots of things one is entitled to do that can't be done in public. Examples available on request.
Good enough?


See what I did there? I'm using the same passive aggressive attitude you've been using to belittle people's comments, insulting them in a rather genteel manner, but still rather soundly insulting them.

See? <-- Note, this is where I'm being aggressively passive aggresive.
posted by cavalier at 12:32 PM on January 6, 2009


I'm sorry, I can't get over this whole "militant nursing mothers" concept. What, do they carry Uzis?
posted by bettafish at 12:34 PM on January 6, 2009


no Virginia, hang-ups about public breastfeeding are not the sole domain of the USA.

I'm surprised by that, because I've genuinely never heard of anyone complaining that it's a problem. I grew up in the 1960's, and it was a common sight to see the neighbourhood women, sitting on the doorstep, feeding their kids in the summer. And I'm not talking about some baby boomer hippies here -- I'm talking about the parents of that generation.

But I grew up in a working class neighbourhood, so perhaps there were different mores in middle class areas. Southport would definitely fall into that category, and if there is a place that would object to it, I could see Southport being such a place.

The upside though, is that there seems to be a pretty wide consensus here that women should have the right to feed their children wherever they wish -- and we're prepared to back that consensus with legal force.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:35 PM on January 6, 2009


we should deal with our discomfort politely and discreetly, and not act like nursing mothers are militant, hormone crazed, exhibitionist perpetrators of parental tunnel vision.

As long as we can agree that a man who has a criticism of this issue isn't automatically some misogynistic asshat.
posted by grubi at 12:35 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


CNN iReport
posted by cjorgensen at 12:37 PM on January 6, 2009


I've forgotten what breastmilk tastes like.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:39 PM on January 6, 2009


That iReporter dude sure has a lot of nipples.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:40 PM on January 6, 2009


I'm frankly puzzled as to why the goalposts keep moving around on this thread as if they were wheeled. I've seen "umbrage" range from breastfeeding on Facebook, to breastfeeding in public, to some sort of "parental tunnel vision" about kids screaming in movie theatres (?).

It seems just about everyone in this thread agrees that breastfeeding in public shouldn't be regarded as shocking, and that mothers should be free to do it wherever and whenever. With regards to Facebook, sure, they have the right to institute some sort of user policy BUT - the user base ALSO has the right to organize this petition and appeal to management to change that policy. It's one of the ways user policies can be changed. If enough of the user base tells management to make this change, management could see it as advantageous to make that change.

Frankly all the talk of "Facebook said it, if you don't like it, go elsewhere" bears somewhat comparable shades of "Company X engages in labor practices you don't like, but if you don't like it, just take your business elsewhere". You don't have to - and shouldn't have to - just take your business elsewhere. You can and should be able to petition management to change their practices.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:41 PM on January 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Personally (as if anyone cares), I think 1) breastfeeding is natural and acceptable as a concept and 2) it's not something I want to see1. But I've got it figured out: I don't watch. If I'm uncomfortable for a little bit while I turn away, I instantly get over it once it's out of my eyeline. I'm quite adept at avoiding things I prefer not to see.

1 I say this as a fan of female breasts in general.
posted by grubi at 12:53 PM on January 6, 2009


Also, looking at the comments in the Times article that Alvy Ampersand links to, it appears that most of the women who talked about having breastfed in the UK said that they did so without any problems or complaints. It seems my own experience isn't that far from the mark after all.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:53 PM on January 6, 2009


See what I did there? I'm using the same passive aggressive attitude you've been using to belittle people's comments, insulting them in a rather genteel manner, but still rather soundly insulting them.

Disagreement [not equal to] belittlement. (Unless the disagreed-with chooses to interpret it that way, of course.) Much like "we'd rather avoid the hassle of arguing over the merits of every nipple picture on our enormous web site" [not equal to] "your nursing breast is a sexual obscenity".

And if you can point to an example where I've stated an opinion about a member, rather than about a conviction they might hold - other than observing that my use of "we" seemed to have stuck in languagehat's craw (which: 1. I think demonstrated by their "for fuck's sake", and 2. Doesn't begin to compare with their starting "You have issues with women" sally) - please do.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:56 PM on January 6, 2009


No one is confining lactating women to their homes.

When/if the anti-public-breastfeeders have their way, of course it has a confining effect. Do you have any idea how often a nursing infant needs to be fed? Do you have any idea what a woman's life would be like if she had to limit her outings to brief trips at the brief times when the infant won't need to be fed? Even when the baby is older and eats less often, how much limiting due to gender should women accept without complaint? I was using a bit of hyperbole to counter the belittling arguments of people like you--these women are hormonal, crazy parents, militants--who seem to willfully ignore the sexism of your positions. Your desire to avoid non-sexualized breasts should not outweigh a women's right to continue to life her life while breastfeeding.


As long as we can agree that a man who has a criticism of this issue isn't automatically some misogynistic asshat.


I don't know about "we," but I only think a person is a misogynistic asshat when they make statements that make them look like a misogynist asshat.
posted by Mavri at 1:00 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the first link:
"Facebook has said that it has no problem with breastfeeding, but that photos showing nipples are deemed to be a violation and can be removed."

That makes no sense. Breastfeeding pics would have the nipple in the baby's mouth, right?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:07 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


This discussion runs along the same dreary, confused track that so many other "issues" chug-chug-chug on. It's like when people debate whether or not abortion is murder. They sometimes speak eloquently; they sometimes speak like cavemen. Regardless, what they say essentially boils down to "IS NOT!" "IS SO!" I wish everyone would stop trying to be so clever and just start hurling mud at each other. It would be more honest.

It doesn't make sense to debate whether or not breastfeeding is obscene without first agreeing on what "obscene" means -- and good luck with that.

I think breastfeeding pics should be allowed on Facebook because I believe in freedom of expression. Breastfeeding pics don't present a clear and present danger, so they should be allowed.

As to whether or not breastfeeding is obscene, who is to decide? Does obscene mean sexually titillating? Well, what if I'm titillated by pictures of breastfeeding? Does that make breastfeeding obscene? Or does that just make me sick? If it's the latter, does obscene just mean stuff that titillates "healthy" people? Penises are obscene because a normal person might get turned on by them. Legs and eyes aren't, because a normal person wouldn't... oops. Joe, Ted, Alice and Mitch are "leg men." They get much more turned on by legs than breasts. We'd better ban all shorts and miniskirts!

Is obscenity just the sex act itself? It sex only obscene if you show it completely -- or is it enough to suggest it? Is a picture of a couple having sex obscene if they're under a sheet? Also, what's "sex"? Titillating contact? Does that make kissing obscene?

Some people avoid this level of scrutiny by evoking "community standards." But that just opens up another can of worms: what constitutes "the community" -- especially when we're talking about an online community?

If I say breastfeeding is obscene, I'm right; if you say it's not, you're right. We're also both wrong.
posted by grumblebee at 1:10 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I only think a person is a misogynistic asshat when they make statements that make them look like a misogynist asshat.

Women: Can't live with them, can't sit on their heads and fart!

/for example
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:13 PM on January 6, 2009


I just came in to say I support breastfeeding in public and think this is stupid. Kids gotta eat. And I would much prefer a breast that wasn't all weepy with milk and swollen and painful to the touch. Nothing too erotic about that for me. Put your kid on it and go to work, I say.
posted by saysthis at 1:14 PM on January 6, 2009


[Example of hypothetical social networking site banning pictures of eating meat under pressure from vegetarians.]

Would your reaction not be “what the fuck? Why should *they* get to tell me if I can share photos of an utterly normal part of my life with my friends. Those were my happy memories I was sharing, and I’ve been prevented from doing that now”. Would that not be your reaction even if you would not normally go out in public with meat juice on your face?

I can honestly say that that would not be my reaction. Because they don't get to tell me if I can share photos of an utterly normal part of my life with my friends. They do get to tell me if I can share photos of an utterly normal part of my life with my friends on that particular site. But that one site is not the entire internet, and preventing me from using one particular site to share pictures with my friends is not the same as preventing me from sharing pictures with my friends.

Certainly, if this happened I would be reconsidering whether I wanted to continue using that particular social networking site. But I wouldn't be frothing with some apopleptic rage as if the site were preventing me from contacting friends by any means whatsoever.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:19 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is anyone even making an absolute demand that they find a private area when feeding? Are women routinely hassled when nursing beneath a towel or some other kind of cover?

Actually, Joe Beese, in some cases they are.

This is one of those annoying situations where you can find a crapton of anecdotal evidence for both sides of the issue -- "I had an overcoat over my entire HEAD and someone still had a hissyfit that I was breastfeeding and the manager made me sit out in my car to finish!" "Oh, yeah, well I one time was at a restaurant where a woman had her breast out for a good ten minutes and she actually LEAKED INTO MY TUNA MELT, and she still refused to put stuff away because 'Mandy may want more to eat'!".

Best way to settle this, to my mind, is for people on both sides to team up and go after the idiots in both camps, because EVERYONE can unite against idiocy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:22 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


The story is "group of people whine about site owner's moderating their content". This isn't even a story, this is sensationalist bullshit. Go start your own website where you can post that kind of stuff; then you can set your own rules and not worry about your precious feelings getting hurt. It's Facebook's site; don't like their arbitrary TOS, then fork over money for hosting. Otherwise, STFU and maybe read the TOS once in a blue moon.

I'm not even going to weigh in on the whole public breastfeeding debate; there's enough stupidity on both sides of the argument in this thread, it's not worth touching.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:28 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


That makes no sense. Breastfeeding pics would have the nipple in the baby's mouth, right?

Well, there's tons of photos of peole up there with a beer bottle in hand, but surprisingly some of them show the opening to the bottle.

And there's often two breasts, one baby.

Just saying just because there's drinking going on doesn't mean everything has to be covered.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:32 PM on January 6, 2009


I can totally understand the argument against restricting women from breastfeeding in public. After all, as many people have said, its about feeding the child, and babies aren't quite as prepared to wait for food as we are :)

However, putting photos online or not has NO effect on being able to feed your child, so it's really not even in the same league. Facebook isn't calling it obscene, they have specific picture guidelines, this violates it, they remove photos. People are free to ask them to change it -- but given the hysteria over pornography, especially in other countries (Middle East, China, etc all have ridiculously strict laws --- I don't know if Facebook tries to serve these countries or not --- and America is bad enough, especially if there are OMGCHILDREN involved), I can see why they do it. Lawyers for companies like this are extremely careful, they'd much rather anger a few parents than get hit with huge lawsuits.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:35 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The story is "group of people whine about site owner's moderating their content". This isn't even a story, this is sensationalist bullshit. Go start your own website where you can post that kind of stuff; then you can set your own rules and not worry about your precious feelings getting hurt.

Just wanted to add that users do have every right to petition site owners to change their policy, and if the owner believes it would benefit the site because enough people want to see that change, then it should be made. Your options are a bit broader than "take it or start your own damn site".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:36 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's Facebook's site; don't like their arbitrary TOS, then fork over money for hosting. Otherwise, STFU and maybe read the TOS once in a blue moon.

Or organize and tell Facebook you'd like them to change their policy.

To me, both are viable options: want MacDonald's to start serving healthy alternatives to the Big Mac?

A. Write to them and ask them to do so (and get 100,000 other people to write similar letters).

B. Go to a different restaurant.

Sometimes one of those plans makes more practical sense. Sometimes it's less clear. Is there another restaurant next door that serves healthy food? Maybe it's just best to quit while you're ahead and eat there. Does it stink inside the healthy restaurant? Maybe it's better to lobby MacDonald's.

Also, lobbying Facebook and leaving Facebook are, in a way, similar actions. Both actions send a message if enough people do them.
posted by grumblebee at 1:37 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let's look at the two sides to this: On one side we have facebook, who long ago implemented a policy that posting pictures of exposed breasts is a no-no and such pictures will be removed from their site. I imagine this is to keep their site from being deemed inappropriate to minors and to keep them off the lists of porn-blocking services so people can safely use facebook on the work computers. It makes sense from a business perspective.
On the other side you have facebook users who want to post pictures of breast-feeding women (usually themselves, but not necessarily). This is important to them because...well...I guess it just is for some reason. Maybe they have no other pics of the little tyke and they really want Aunt Ethel to see the baby.
Which side has the most legitimate reason to have their way?
posted by rocket88 at 1:37 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, lobbying Facebook and leaving Facebook are, in a way, similar actions. Both actions send a message if enough people do them.

I can see your point, but I guess I just take issue with the weird sense of entitlement people have when they're using free services provided to them; this becomes especially apparent on the Internet. Yes, I am of the "take it or leave it" group; perhaps my angry tone is the result of the absolutely over-the-top outrage people are expressing; not that people RTFA before commenting, but a good portion of this thread is about public breastfeeding -- which has F-all to do with the topic, which is "internal Facebook drama".

Considering the loose guidelines of this very site (link and the de-facto "it's Matt's site, your post was deleted, deal with it" response solicited by MeTa advocacy, the response in this thread is a bit puzzling.

In the end, my beef is with the whining that a free service doesn't meet people's expectations. My response to this attitude is simple: drop some of your burdensome expectations, or seek your solution elsewhere -- your refund is in the mail.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:44 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was using a bit of hyperbole to counter the belittling arguments of people like you--these women are hormonal, crazy parents, militants--who seem to willfully ignore the sexism of your positions.

My understanding is that the irritability associated with pre-menstrual syndrome is connected with hormone release. Lactation also releases hormones. I don't think one needs to be a sexist to ask if a similar dynamic might apply. If it doesn't, fact noted.

"Militant" is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. But demanding that a company change its policy rather than simply taking one's business elsewhere crosses what to me is a bright clear line. When Christian fundamentalists try to organize boycotts of Disney theme parks because their gay and lesbian employees get equal partnership benefits, they're commonly recognized as extremist nuisances. The situation is no different if you happen to be on the opposite side of the political spectrum.

It wasn't enough for these mothers to love their children. Not enough to nourish them. Not enough to photograph them being nourished. Not enough to publish that photograph. They wanted to fight to keep those photographs from being removed. "Crazy parents"? You bet.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:44 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think Facebook should change its policy, because I totally support a mother's right to publish pictures that can be used to humiliate her children when they older.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:45 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Which side has the most legitimate reason to have their way?

I can't think of any way that question can be answered.

What if a large segment of the population thought pictures of black people were obscene. It would hurt Facebook's business to allow them. And you could say, "Hey, it won't kill you to forgo posting pictures of Malcolm X."

The question isn't "which side has a legitimate reason." The question is, "Facebook isn't allowing photos of breastfeeding. What are you going to do about it?" Possible answers are...

I'm going to do nothing.

I'm going to try to get them to change their policy.

I'm going to stop using their site.

I'm going to try to get them to not cave into people's desire to post breastfeeding photos.

I'm going to argue about it with my friends and with random people on the Internet, but other than that, I'm not going to do anything. (Maybe the truth is that I don't care all that much about Facebook. However, I do care about how society views women's bodies. I think there are some sexist, prudish attitudes that need to be stopped. Facebook isn't really the main issue, but since this came up re a discussion of Facebook, I'm going to use that discussion to soapbox.)
posted by grumblebee at 1:50 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Your options are a bit broader than "take it or start your own damn site".

If I started an online community, centered around an issue that is polarizing and highly divisive, and whose content bordered on the fringes of the site's TOS, I'd be savy enough to do so in a venue where I was the final stop for all content moderation. That way I don't have to spend my time defending my (mistaken) conception of freedom of speech. Rather I could, you know, get on with my life, instead of telling an organization I am freely benefiting from how they should police their content.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:50 PM on January 6, 2009


publish pictures that can be used to humiliate her children when they older.

Ohhhh man, I'm already cringing at the inevitable "Hey Facebook, My Naked Child Is Not Obscene" group.
posted by naju at 1:50 PM on January 6, 2009


Almost textbook topic showing how moronic nearly everybody on both sides of a debate can be. Lots of personal entitlement, lots of storytelling about THOSE OTHER PEOPLE, minimum of social consideration. Perfect storm.
posted by namespan at 1:51 PM on January 6, 2009


Yes, I am of the "take it or leave it" group;

Would you feel the same way if, say, Matt said, "No Jews on Metafilter"? If not, what's the deciding factor, other than "stuff that matters to you"?
posted by grumblebee at 1:52 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Would you feel the same way if, say, Matt said, "No Jews on Metafilter"? If not, what's the deciding factor, other than "stuff that matters to you"?

I'd leave. Why would I waste time campaigning against someone with that mentality? Bad example. Either way; Mefi cost me zero dollars; my ROI has already been incalculable. Even if I paid $5, I know where the door is; I bought membership, not the inalienable right to have only things I like exist on Mefi, and / or to be allowed to post whatever *I* think should be included in the guidelines.

Stuff that matters to me.... There is a lot. None of which could be classified with complaining about a TOS you accepted when you signed up. People who accept rules and then complain about them boil my blood.

If Matt deleted my account right now, for no reason, I'd be upset, annoyed, and that's about it. I'm not going to take much more action beyond asking for a reason -- and hoping it makes sense -- I'm not going to hop on a soapbox and tell someone how to run their website. If my input is requested, sure, I'll throw my 2 cents in.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:57 PM on January 6, 2009


Grumblebee, I can hardly see you behind the army of strawmen. This isn't about blacks or Jews. This is about posting pics on someone else's web service. Facebook's policy is similar to that of countless other online services, and it makes sense. The policy isn't about breastfeeding but pics of breastfeeding just happens to be caught in its net. And what do the posters of those pics stand to lose from said policy? Absolutely nothing.
posted by rocket88 at 1:59 PM on January 6, 2009


Disagreement [not equal to] belittlement.

So you meant this (May I ask if there's some hormonal flux at work that makes breastfeeding advocates so - please excuse me - touchy?) as a genuine request for information? You wanted it to encourage people to answer your question thoughtfully and respectfully?

You need to work on your presentation.
posted by rtha at 2:00 PM on January 6, 2009


Your own personal feelings aside, DM, that doesn't mean members of an online community can't petition the admins to make changes. If those changes aren't made, I reckon they probably will go elsewhere. But there's nothing unreasonable about trying to change the TOS of a community you're a part of, free or not.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:02 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


You need to work on your presentation.

I suggest no less-than half-a-dozen footnotes, as well as least a "j/k" and a smiley-face or two. (Should none of these smiley faces be winking, the exercise is a failure.)
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:03 PM on January 6, 2009


THE NEW FACEBOOK CONTROVERSY IS HERE!! THE NEW FACEBOOK CONTROVERSY IS HERE!
posted by odinsdream at 2:05 PM on January 6, 2009


But there's nothing unreasonable about trying to change the TOS of a community you're a part of, free or not.

When it's unsolicited, I beg to differ. Violating TOS and then campaigning after the fact is different than petitioning first and then abiding by whatever decision is made.

After-the-fact advocacy does nothing for me. As I said, the TOS was accepted. I'm all for advocating change; I'm also a proponent of reading terms I have agreed to.
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:05 PM on January 6, 2009


Would you feel the same way if, say, Matt said, "No Jews on Metafilter"?

You know who else had a problem with Jews?

As a Jew myself, I can say that if it was pointed out to me that I had overlooked or ignored a publicly stated "no judenrat" clause in Metafilter's Terms of Service, I would blame no one but myself. (And I certainly wouldn't expect to change Matt's mind by loudly arguing how natural and wonderful the Jewish people are - however true it is.)

Children need to be given a sense of personal responsibility as well as breastmilk.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:08 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd leave. Why would I waste time campaigning against someone with that mentality? Bad example.

That's fair enough.

However, Facebook and Metafilter promote themselves as "communities." If people invest their time and emotional energy in a community, they are (in general -- you're an exception) going to feel a certain amount of ownership of that communities. If you don't want them to feel that way about your community, that's fine, but if you try to stop such feelings, you won't wind up with committed members.

If people feel ownership, they will naturally try to change things they don't like -- regardless of the terms they were shown when they signed up (back when they didn't care all that much about the community). That may boil your blood, and you have my sympathy, but you're railing against human nature.

You see this all the time with software. Back when I first bought Photoshop, I knew about its features -- I knew what it could do and what it couldn't. Adobe was very honest about all that stuff. I was a newbie, so I don't care all that much. I "knew" what I was getting into, so I bought the program. But now I've been using it for ten years. I'm a part of what allows Photoshop to keep existing. Sorry if this irks you, but I can't help but feel some ownership. When something irritates me about the app, I write to Adobe and tell them. (And, by the way, Adobe understand enough about community building to expect this and welcome it.)

Dark Messiah, I wonder if Facebook just happens to be a community you don't particularly care about. If so, you're not likely to understand people who do. In truth, I don't care all that much about it. I'm a casual user. But there are other communities that I do care about. I may not have started them. I may not have made the initial rules. I may have (foolishly?) agreed to some stuff before I knew what I was getting into. But I've paid my dues. I've given a lot to those communities. I feel I have earned the right to speak up if there are problems. So I can understand how invested Facebook members may feel.
posted by grumblebee at 2:10 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


When it's unsolicited, I beg to differ. Violating TOS and then campaigning after the fact is different than petitioning first and then abiding by whatever decision is made.

The problem is, though, that Facebook's TOS makes no mention of breastfeeding, nipples or nudity. The closest it comes is this:
In addition, you agree not to use the Service or the Site to: upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable.
Seeing as how breastfeeding in public has become more or less a non-issue for most of these women, can you understand why they'd believe breastfeeding wouldn't fall under the category of "vulgar" or "obscene"?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:11 PM on January 6, 2009


Dark Messiah, I wonder if Facebook just happens to be a community you don't particularly care about.

Check my profile, I indeed have a Facebook account. I care about it as much as I care about any website; very little. It's just another (useful) resource.

When something irritates me about the app, I write to Adobe and tell them. (And, by the way, Adobe understand enough about community building to expect this and welcome it.)

Your example does not pertain to this discussion. Submitting feedback about a service is entirely different. Had you decompiled Photoshop (violating the EULA), and then complained that you only did it to add features, you'd also be up a creek with a turd for a paddle. That analogy is a lot closer to this discussion.

I'm not trying to come across as "feedback is bad, STFU and keep it to yourself". Your Adobe example is one of good advocacy; following the procedures in place to address your concerns. Breaking the rules, suffering the consequences, and complaining about it after the fact is an entirely different matter altogether.

Please, tell me you see the massive difference here.
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:14 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seeing as how breastfeeding in public has become more or less a non-issue for most of these women, can you understand why they'd believe breastfeeding wouldn't fall under the category of "vulgar" or "obscene"?

Facebook is free to define those terms as they wish. They are ambiguous.

I don't need to understand Facebook's reasoning. It's their site. And I agreed to accept their ambiguous TOS.
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:16 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Facebook is free to define those terms as they wish. They are ambiguous.

Right, but my point is, saying "They should have read the TOS first instead of getting busted for violation and then petitioned" doesn't make a lot of sense when the TOS itself is that vague. They didn't know images of breastfeeding would violate the TOS, it's not even remotely included in the TOS, and so their reaction seems pretty normal to me.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:20 PM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Grumblebee, I can hardly see you behind the army of strawmen. This isn't about blacks or Jews. This is about posting pics on someone else's web service. Facebook's policy is similar to that of countless other online services, and it makes sense. The policy isn't about breastfeeding but pics of breastfeeding just happens to be caught in its net. And what do the posters of those pics stand to lose from said policy? Absolutely nothing.

I know it isn't about blacks or Jews. I was stupidly attempting to make an analogy. (If I say that apple pie is as good as sex, I'm not saying that apple pie IS sex, and I'm also not talking about sex.)

The point I was trying to make is this: Facebook is censoring something. In my view, it's immaterial why they're doing so. Maybe it's for "good business reasons." Maybe it's "because they're offended by it." Whatever.

You're likely to feel hurt by their decision if they happen to be censoring something that's important to you. Honestly, if Facebook had a policy against posting hiphop videos, I'd be fine with it. I don't like hiphop. I'd be tempted to tell grumblers to go find another site. I'd be tempted to say, "how does refraining from posting hip hop hurt you? Answer: it doesn't!"

If those people said, "Well, how would you like it if you posted a photo of your wife breastfeeding your son, and they forced you to remove it?", I might shout STRAW MAN!

But if something is important to you, it's important to you. If you're a member of a community, the whole point of your membership is -- for many people -- to be able to talk about (and post pictures of) what's important to you.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying Facebook should be forced to allow breastfeeding photos. I'm saying that I personally think they should allow them. And were I a committed member of that community, I think it would be reasonable for me to voice that opinion. And I think it would be reasonable of them -- as community managers -- to listen to what I had to say.

Do you think members of a community should never complain about anything?
posted by grumblebee at 2:21 PM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


The point I was trying to make is this: Facebook is censoring something.

The point many of us are making is that Facebook has every right to do this. They also detailed what they use as a policy for determining what they censor. If the notion that anything that is found to be "any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable" might be deleted, go elsewhere.
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:24 PM on January 6, 2009


err mangled sentence... if the notion that [...] might be deleted bothers you, go elsewhere.
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:25 PM on January 6, 2009


Your example does not pertain to this discussion. Submitting feedback about a service is entirely different. Had you decompiled Photoshop (violating the EULA), and then complained that you only did it to add features, you'd also be up a creek with a turd for a paddle. That analogy is a lot closer to this discussion.

Maybe we're in agreement. I'd liken your example to hacking into Facebook and breaking whatever admin tools they use to censor pictures.

I do feel like the high road -- if you're opposed to the policy -- is to not post breastfeeding pics but rather to lobby for the right to do so.

However, complaining is not the same as hacking into something. Complaining is words. I think it's reasonable to say, "Okay, I broke the rules and I got punished. They have the right to punish me. However, I think the rules need to be changed."
posted by grumblebee at 2:25 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can see how the mothers would take it personally, and objecting to breastfeeding or classifying such a wholesome activity as "obscene" is ridiculous.

However, I'm positive it isn't personal. I've had images yanked from Myspace, Photobucket, and other sites for "terms of use violation" and obscenity, and been utterly gobsmacked as to what constitutes such a violation. Sites like these tend to yank images for the merest hint of naked, even if there is nothing about them that is objetionable, even when there is content in the sidebar ads that is far more offensive. I used to protest, but it's like screaming at a monolith. I've gotten to the point where I just shrug and re-upload. If they want to nuke my account, meh, fine, I'll make another.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:30 PM on January 6, 2009


The hilarious thing is that there are probably hundreds if not thousands of breastfeeding photos kicking around facebook which will never get flagged or removed. Nobody cares except for the people whose friends flagged their photos and got them removed. It's not facebook's fault their friends are grossed out or offended, facebook is just trying to play referee and keep as much of the community happy as possible.
posted by mullingitover at 2:30 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


However, complaining is not the same as hacking into something. Complaining is words. I think it's reasonable to say, "Okay, I broke the rules and I got punished. They have the right to punish me. However, I think the rules need to be changed."

You're missing my point; I was simply refering to a breach of terms -- ones which were accepted by you, the hypothetical user in this case, as well as the users of Facebook. If you need to fully flesh out my analogy, then tack on that "you would then complain that you had the right to do so because it makes sense for reasons X, Y, Z".

"Okay, I broke the rules and I got punished. They have the right to punish me. However, I think the rules need to be changed."

Or, heaven forbid, live with it and move on. As I said before, after-the-fact advocacy loses a lot of its sincerity and comes across more as entitlement theater.

As this advice was offered to another poster, I will recite it; perhaps they should work on their presentation.
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:31 PM on January 6, 2009


Right, but my point is, saying "They should have read the TOS first instead of getting busted for violation and then petitioned" doesn't make a lot of sense when the TOS itself is that vague. They didn't know images of breastfeeding would violate the TOS, it's not even remotely included in the TOS, and so their reaction seems pretty normal to me.

I'm quoting this in every pile-on I see in MeTa over thread deletions. Just a heads up. ;)
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:33 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I learned a new word, so this hasn't been a complete waste of time. Lactivists!
posted by fixedgear at 2:33 PM on January 6, 2009


The point many of us are making is that Facebook has every right to do this.

I agree. And members have the right to object.

MacDonald's has the right to serve me cold fried. I have the right to say, "Hey, these are cold!"

Saying "I have the right" isn't even really what I mean. I'm GOING to say "these are cold," whether or not I "have the right." If they have a sign that says, "We serve cold fries!", I still might say, "You know, I ate your cold fries, and I don't like them." People have opinions.

MacDonald's has the right to say, "We don't care what you think about the fries."

This is called "having a conversation."

But I'm going to bow out. I see this same conversation all the time in Metatalk. When someone "complains" about something one of the mods do, some people see that complaint as rude ("it's Matt's site!") while other people see it as reasonable conversation for members of a community to be having with their moderators. I don't think these two views are reconcilable.

I've often been baffled when I've complained about, say, a deletion, and have been told, "Matt has the right to delete your post if he wants to." As if I said he didn't. And when I've agreed that Matt has the right, I've been told, "then why are you complaining." If you think one should only complain if one sees a rule being violated, then we have no basis for discussion. Because discussion is what I believe in.
posted by grumblebee at 2:33 PM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


“Perhaps its the idea that a part of one's body that functions beautifully to sustain the life of a child is considered a sex toy to such a degree that it's orginal purpose is considered secondary to the erotic.”

I don’t think there’s any perhaps to it. I think that’s exactly the thing, yeah.

“Nobody bothers me about them or makes rules about the fashion in which they are housed or what they should look like, because who cares about my damn glands?”

Damn Straight. Got my balls on my desk right now.
...it’s rated for heavy equipment, so, y’know, it’s ok.
...legs are squeeking a bit tho.

Everything political/social/sexual is negotiable and often subjective.
Don’t believe me? What’s their policy on feet.
harassing? vulgar? obscene? fraudulent (the miracle ingredient in yummy Crelm!)?

Folks sexualize feet too. (Not me....just sayin’) If we’re arguing ‘fair’ here (and some places we’re not, so IGNORE ME DOING THIS, IGNORE MY POINT HERE, IGNORE WHAT I’M SAYING OUTSIDE THIS PARENTHETICAL) - it’s not fair to penalize someone for something someone else fetishizes sexually.

I mean, they don’t let me into the zoo anymore, not after...
...well, let’s just say they haven’t kicked out the marine mammals shameless cetacea that they are.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:34 PM on January 6, 2009


Because discussion is what I believe in.

Belief doesn't make it so. I don't see a discussion here; I see people with their nose out of joint that the rules were applied to them. That's not a discussion, that's whining; that's what children do. If you don't like the posted rules, which you state you AGREE with prior to joining, please stay out of the tree house.

If they have a sign that says, "We serve cold fries!", I still might say, "You know, I ate your cold fries, and I don't like them." People have opinions.

Are you serious!? You'd go and buy something you know you're not going to like and, when said expecations are met, you're going to complain. Honestly, I can't sum up a reaction to that which doesn't cross the line of being personally insulting. Seriously? WHAT THE HELL. As the owner of said fictional place, I'd offer a complementary glass of freshly squeezed STFU, along with a coupon for Hooked on Phonics.
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:38 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm assuming Facebook has already purged all it's photos of kids in bathtubs. When I worked for [A competitor to MySpace] for [major corporation] they'd occasionally get tagged and deleted (since there wasn't really much of a screening process involved, and/or aversion to risk) and that would cause a huge fuss. No one at [competitor to MySpace] really seemed to care about this too much though, mainly since that site was so obviously doomed. [major corporation] still keeps it around though, mainly to have a dog in the race I guess.
posted by Artw at 2:42 PM on January 6, 2009


I'm quoting this in every pile-on I see in MeTa over thread deletions. Just a heads up. ;)

Hey, feel free. Those are some of my favorite threads on MeTa.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:43 PM on January 6, 2009


Hey, feel free. Those are some of my favorite threads on MeTa.

I too enjoy trainwreck theatre.
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:44 PM on January 6, 2009


"it’s not fair to penalize someone for something someone else fetishizes sexually."

I'm sorry, I just got home and I still don't know how to italicize but this has got to be one of the funnier things I've read today. Maybe I'm just dyslexic and overcompensate with pedantry of one sort or another, but "penalize" and "fetishizes sexually" just look wrong to me in the same sentence.

signed, unrepentant mother of four "breastfed" (you call it "breastfeeding, we call it "nursing") people. Sometimes even outside of the house!
posted by emhutchinson at 2:46 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


As I said before, after-the-fact advocacy loses a lot of its sincerity and comes across more as entitlement theater.

I strongly suspect that most of the people who have joined the Facebook protest group have not had photos removed.

If you don't like the posted rules, which you state you AGREE with prior to joining, please stay out of the tree house.

Discussing Facebook's rules is itself permitted by Facebook's TOS. And Facebook could delete the protest group, yet they do not, which indicates to me that Facebook is OK with this discussion taking place, even if they are not ultimately persuaded to change their policies.

So what do you do when the posted rules forbid a thing, yet those same rules allow discussion of whether that thing ought to be forbidden? If you don't like the rule that discussion of Facebook policy is allowed on Facebook, shouldn't you, by your own logic, be staying "out of the tree house?"
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:48 PM on January 6, 2009


You'd go and buy something you know you're not going to like and, when said expecations are met, you're going to complain.

He didn't say that. Maybe he didn't know he wouldn't like the fries and decided, "What the hell, I'll give it a shot". They're not good, so he fills out a suggestion card saying, "I don't like the cold fries". He doesn't ask for his money back. He doesn't threaten to boycott the store. More people fill out cards saying the same thing. Finally the fries are taken off the menu. Sometimes things work.

It may be a silly example but grumblebee's point is valid, and it sounds like you're just looking for a reason to fight - which is strange, since grumblebee never said anything insulting to you.
posted by Evangeline at 2:52 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


So what do you do when the posted rules forbid a thing, yet those same rules allow discussion of whether that thing ought to be forbidden?

Or when the TOS never forbids a thing, or even hints at it being forbidden, yet those photos get deleted anyway, and THEN those same rules allow discussion of whether that thing ought to be forbidden?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:53 PM on January 6, 2009


Also:

I'm quoting this in every pile-on I see in MeTa over thread deletions. Just a heads up. ;)

Paging DarkMessiah!


I covered myself. You should read my TOS. ;)
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:06 PM on January 6, 2009



Or when the TOS never forbids a thing


I direct your attention to the phrase "otherwise objectionable". You know lawyers write these things, eh?
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:08 PM on January 6, 2009


I direct your attention to the phrase "otherwise objectionable". You know lawyers write these things, eh?

The point that Facebook actively allows discussion and criticism of Facebook policies on Facebook stands, regardless of whether the TOS actually prohibits photos of breastfeeding or not.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:14 PM on January 6, 2009


The hilarious thing is that there are probably hundreds if not thousands of breastfeeding photos kicking around facebook which will never get flagged or removed. Nobody cares except for the people whose friends flagged their photos and got them removed. It's not facebook's fault their friends are grossed out or offended, facebook is just trying to play referee and keep as much of the community happy as possible.

Ah, now you've reached the radioactive core of all this...

Ultimately, this isn't about combating the sexualization of women's bodies or defending freedom of expression. This is an attempt to revenge the naricissistic wound inflicted by the reminder that your baby is not special.

Baby did not magically re-write the societal norms about female nudity. Its feeding is not a beautiful sight just because you love it. To everyone else - even your friends - it's just a mouth on a nipple. And they'd prefer it if you would - to quote Robert Duvall in Rambling Rose - "Replace that tit."
posted by Joe Beese at 3:14 PM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think I'm going to start calling these kinds of threads "Milgram threads".
posted by Artw at 3:17 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I covered myself. You should read my TOS. ;)

Damn you and your legalese!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:28 PM on January 6, 2009


Ultimately, this isn't about combating the sexualization of women's bodies or defending freedom of expression. This is an attempt to revenge the naricissistic wound inflicted by the reminder that your baby is not special.

What the holy fuck? Seriously. I'm trying not to lose my day in this thread, but how on earth are you turning a facebook removing pictures of nursing mothers into an inflammatory statement like that?

You're blaming the parent for thinking too highly of their child as their reason to nurse their baby and be happy that they can?

I... I'm .. Just, wow, man, wow.
posted by cavalier at 3:40 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Eh, I know an awful lot of people who joined that petition, and I don't think any of them had breastfeeding pictures removed.

Especially with the intersection between interacting via Facebook and in real life, they signed that petition on the principle that judging breastfeeding as obscene is objectionable, and that when this sort of thing crops up, it should be protested.
posted by desuetude at 3:40 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


You're blaming the parent for thinking too highly of their child as their reason to nurse their baby and be happy that they can?

No.

The reason to nurse one's baby is because it's natural, beneficial, and all those other nice things the La Leche League talks about. The reason to be happy about it is because you're nourishing something you love.

The reason to post a picture on the Internet of a bodypart that one would ordinarily take pains to keep covered when in public is because you are under the narcissistic misapprehension that everyone else will consider your procreation as miraculous an event as you do. The reason to organize a protest when that picture is removed through a legitimate exercise of the Terms of Service you agreed to is because you have a dangerously exaggerated sense of entitlement.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:59 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm willing to bet good money that DarkMassacre was bottle fed...

I keed... I keed...
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 4:01 PM on January 6, 2009


you have a dangerously exaggerated sense of entitlement.

Dangerous to whom?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:02 PM on January 6, 2009


1. Post your breastfeeding pictures to Flickr.
2. Post a link to your Flickr site on your Facebook page.

"Problem" solved.
posted by desjardins at 4:07 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dangerous to whom?

To themselves. The world will usually be more brusque than Facebook when telling someone where they can get off.

But possibly to the children as well. If they go into kindergarten with the attitude their mothers are bringing to Facebook, it won't be pretty.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:10 PM on January 6, 2009


they signed that petition on the principle that judging breastfeeding as obscene is objectionable

I also think that judging breastfeeding as obscene is objectionable, but I find it interesting what words you used to present that issue. Another way to describe this is that proponents of this ban see the posting of breastfeeding pictures as objectionable. And MeFi, for one, has been moving toward an informal policy of what offends some should be avoided. That is what being sensitive to others means; it doesn't matter if you don't find it objectionable, so long as others in your community do. (eg: the recent "twat/cunt" discussion) But here of course, we largely support public breastfeeding (as do I) so what we present as objectionable is opposition to it, and forget the idea that it's important to be sensitive to others who have different sensibilities. And here -- note you wonderful selective editors among you -- we're not even talking about banning actual public breastfeeding (which could be considered a right) but merely posting pictures of same.

Again, I'm on the side of the picture posters, but I find the double-standard here amusing. I wonder if we'll ever get past "we must be sensitive" vs. "grow a thicker skin" rationalized on the basis of what we already personally find acceptable.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:17 PM on January 6, 2009


I think I can safely claim not to have a double standard on this one.
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The reason to post a picture on the Internet of a bodypart that one would ordinarily take pains to keep covered when in public is because you are under the narcissistic misapprehension that everyone else will consider your procreation as miraculous an event as you do.

Right, here is where you're losing me. Pains to keep covered? Procreation isn't miraculous? Just how badly were you scarred emotionally to project this much into what is at most moms sharing their joys of being moms? Seriously - you're against boobies in public, I figured that part out, it's the way you're describing their actions with this sort of intellectual vitriol that's creeping me out.
posted by cavalier at 4:27 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think I can safely claim not to have a double standard on this one.

Yeah, you're in the clear, Artw. Heh.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:30 PM on January 6, 2009


But possibly to the children as well. If they go into kindergarten with the attitude their mothers are bringing to Facebook, it won't be pretty.

Boy, you really have . . . issues with mothers, don't you? Maybe the mom is doing what most people do on facebook--posting pictures of their lives. Here's Dave at the beach. Here's Grandma sitting on the back porch. Here's Jane feeding little Betty. Here's the cat playing with the Xmas wrapping paper. Why can't it be as harmless and simple as that? Why does that one picture mean so many awful things to you? It's kind of fascinating, really.

And of course facebook can enforce their TOS, but what the hell is so objectionable about trying to change it? How does that lead to narcissistic, hormonal moms with miracle babies?

My understanding is that the irritability associated with pre-menstrual syndrome is connected with hormone release. Lactation also releases hormones. I don't think one needs to be a sexist to ask if a similar dynamic might apply. If it doesn't, fact noted.


I'm glad it's been noted. It not even a remotely new idea that it's sexist to dismiss women's opinions as "it's the hormones talking; you can ignore those irrational women."
posted by Mavri at 4:37 PM on January 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


The reason to post a picture on the Internet of a bodypart

They're not posting pictures of a body part. They're posting pictures of themselves feeding their babies, and the body part in question is incidental to the photo. Taking and sharing photos of yourself and your kids is not narcissistic, especially when a) it's probably only your friends who are allowed to see it and b) no one - even the friends in question - is forced to look at the photos.
posted by rtha at 4:40 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pains to keep covered?

Yes.

"You know your whole life you go through painstaking efforts to hide your nipple and then BOOM, suddenly hundreds of people get their own personal shot of it."


Procreation isn't miraculous?

Unless someone bases a religion on the offspring, no.


Just how badly were you scarred emotionally to project this much into what is at most moms sharing their joys of being moms?

Is emotional scarring causing you to project this fantasy onto me?


Seriously - you're against boobies in public, I figured that part out

Keep figuring.


it's the way you're describing their actions with this sort of intellectual vitriol that's creeping me out.


Be not ye creeped. My words cannot harm you.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:41 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aight, whatevs, I get it. Best move is not to play.
posted by cavalier at 4:46 PM on January 6, 2009


Boy, you really have . . . issues with mothers, don't you?

"Note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site."
posted by Joe Beese at 4:54 PM on January 6, 2009


I still don't understand why they're taking this out on facebook. They're posting pics of themselves breastfeeding. They're showing them to their friends. Their friends are reporting the images as offensive. The reported images are taken down. The problem is that they are offending their friends, who aren't as thrilled with the creepy miracle of feeding babies as they are. Why aren't they forming "1,000,000 strong against my friends who keep flagging my breastfeeding pictures"? Facebook is just responding to flagged pictures, I doubt they have a special "Breastfeeding seek and destroy team" that's constantly poring over all the images in the system to remove breastfeeding pics.

It's highly doubtful that Facebook is going to buckle on this when it's being driven by user complaints in the first place. Now excuse me, I'm off to flag my friends' breastfeeding pictures. Yuck.
posted by mullingitover at 4:54 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who says their friends are flagging the pictures?
posted by fixedgear at 5:01 PM on January 6, 2009


fixedgear writes "Who says their friends are flagging the pictures?"

Facebook doesn't make your profile globally viewable, the biggest spectacle you can make of yourself is to allow people in your 'network' (eg school, region, workplace) and friends of friends to see your profile. So it's possible that one could join the NYC network and have a lot of people able to see your profile, but it's still fairly limited in scope. However, if people are letting strangers see their breastfeeding photos then it's even less surprising that they'd be flagged. A second group, "1,000,000 strong against the strangers who I show my breastfeeding photos to who keep flagging them" would be in order.
posted by mullingitover at 5:12 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I (using my former username, beth, as I recall) once posted a pic of myself breastfeeing my daughter to mefi. Ah, the img tag, how we miss thee.

The post is still there (as far as I know) but the hosting for the image is not. Alas.

Frankly I see that some people are over the top with breastfeeding-in-public advocacy in a way that shows they are spoiling for a fight over something, anything they can find. Breastfeeding is a great topic since it's a huge portion of what they do every day, and what they think about all the time. I was once that way (well not so much spoiling for a fight, but the other part). Hell, I even used to read LACTNET I was so hardcore.

Eventually, your kids grow up and breastfeeding moves to the sidelines among your other interests, for most people I imagine. People who make their career of it are not what I am talking about.

I think part of this is the urges of women who don't work wanting everyone to know that what they do is Important with a capital I, and don't you dare minimize it or marginalize it by pointing to women who can work and be a mother at the same time effectively. I have seen this attitude in some and it's quite odious, especially when it gets to the point where they criticize you for "letting other people raise your children" when you put them in daycare. But I digress, that's another battle really but I do think there is some overlap.

Yes, breastfeeding boobs shouldn't be a big deal. No, our society isn't there yet but every mom who is unafraid and manages to convince people that it's Not A Big Deal makes one small step towards it being so accepted that such pictures wouldn't cause such a problem.

But we are not there yet. Not by a mile. I think they will squawk but they won't win. But they will find a heroic Cause to occupy their time and attention, which is important since caring for a baby at home alone can get boring.

Give it another twenty years maybe. By then people will be posting pictures of themselves having sex with robots, anyway, and no one will bat an eye.
posted by marble at 5:17 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


>>they signed that petition on the principle that judging breastfeeding as obscene is objectionable

I also think that judging breastfeeding as obscene is objectionable, but I find it interesting what words you used to present that issue. Another way to describe this is that proponents of this ban see the posting of breastfeeding pictures as objectionable. And MeFi, for one, has been moving toward an informal policy of what offends some should be avoided. That is what being sensitive to others means; it doesn't matter if you don't find it objectionable, so long as others in your community do. (eg: the recent "twat/cunt" discussion) But here of course, we largely support public breastfeeding (as do I) so what we present as objectionable is opposition to it, and forget the idea that it's important to be sensitive to others who have different sensibilities.


The key is "on principle." People signing a FB petition aren't even necessarily friends with nursing moms, let alone nursing moms themselves. The principle of this categorization being termed obscene strikes people as an overzealous policy, and thus they sign a petition to communicate this to the Facebook-Powers-that-Be. It's their Metatalk. On a slightly shallower note, signing this petition also communicates support for "the cause" (of public breastfeeding/posting pics of same/boobies in general) to one's entire group of friends.

I get where you're going and see the interest, but voluntarily restraining oneself from using potentially offensive language within an existing discussion is a different animal, isn't it? I don't think of people posting photos as the same sort of dialogue as what occurs in a thread here. Sure, posting photos is a form of communication, but it seems a much more passive one to me.
posted by desuetude at 5:34 PM on January 6, 2009


Many people here are making wonderful, salient points, and I agree with them 100%. Too bad they have very little to do with the original issue.
AFAIK, facebook doesn't have a problem with or a policy against breastfeeding pics. They do have a policy against "too much" (in their judgement) nudity in pics. Post a pic of you and your suckling that doesn't show too much boob, and I'm pretty sure it'll fly. Post one where you're virtually topless and showing more breast than baby and they'll probably yank it. If that spells censorship and discrimination to you, then so be it.
posted by rocket88 at 5:38 PM on January 6, 2009


Boy, you really have . . . issues with mothers, don't you? Maybe the mom is doing what most people do on facebook--posting pictures of their lives. Here's Dave at the beach. Here's Grandma sitting on the back porch. Here's Jane feeding little Betty. Here's the cat playing with the Xmas wrapping paper. Why can't it be as harmless and simple as that? Why does that one picture mean so many awful things to you?

Mavri, I don't think that Joe Beese was HIMSELF saying he espoused these opinions as such, I think he was more speaking of how other people may have these opnions.

An anecdote: I know two people on my facebook friends list who are members of this "hey, this isn't obscene!" group. And -- to my knowledge, neither has posted a picture of themselves nursing their children, nor would they ever have DREAMED of doing so, if I read them correctly.

It's possible that the reason groups like this get popular is because it is very, very easy to "join". All you have to do is click a link and you're in, just like all it takes to throw a snowball at someone or give someone a pet playwright is to also just click a link.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:45 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree with the principle, desuetude. And obviously Facebook and MeFi can have different standards as they are different sites. Further, it's not like the MeFi mods have started banning people for using unfavoured language -- or even removing it automatically sans flags (AFAIK) -- so a policy that absolutely prevents the offending material is of a somewhat different beast. But I don't see why a picture -- to a stranger, as we all know that one can set Facebook to show things only to friends -- is any more meaningful than a particular word, unless it is, as you mention, to "show support" for an underlying cause. But that's where this picture policy gets into the breastfeeding war by proxy, and I'm not certain it belongs there. Because a woman feeding a child IRL is feeding a child. So while it may offend some, there is an important countering value there. I don't see the countering value in this instance. So all we have is one group taking offence against another group's claimed right to post pictures of what they want to post, which doesn't seem a lot different to me than posting pictures of other things or using other terms that people might find objectionable.

And thanks for the thoughtful response.

on preview, if what rocket88 says is true, then this is entirely about one of those other things that some people find objectionable and others do not -- nudity.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:46 PM on January 6, 2009


A... a pet playwright, you say?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:47 PM on January 6, 2009


My understanding is that the irritability associated with pre-menstrual syndrome is connected with hormone release. Lactation also releases hormones.

.....what?
posted by jokeefe at 5:53 PM on January 6, 2009


My understanding is that the irritability associated with pre-menstrual syndrome is connected with hormone release. Lactation also releases hormones. I don't think one needs to be a sexist to ask if a similar dynamic might apply. If it doesn't, fact noted.
Researchers from China, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, have created a model that shows exactly how, when a baby suckles at a mother's breast, it starts a chain of events that leads to a surge of the "trust" hormone oxytocin in their mother's brain.
cite
posted by rtha at 6:18 PM on January 6, 2009


.....what?

PMS is a collection of symptoms. More than 200 different symptoms have been identified, but the three most prominent symptoms are irritability, tension, and dysphoria (unhappiness). ... A variety of evolutionary rationales for the syndrome have been offered, including that it is an epiphenomenon due to the selective advantage accruing to other phases of the hormonal cycle...

If this has the facts wrong, you can correct it yourself.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:19 PM on January 6, 2009


Well, I think my point about the offended still stands. It pisses me off that the offended have so much say, but I quite understand that facebook will delete things because it's easier than explaining why breastfeeding isn't obscene.

The thing that really gets me is that the anti-breastfeeding 'lobby' (for want of a better term) is just so unreasonable in its response. I have met people, actually more women than men, who literally get hopping mad when they see a woman breastfeeding in public. It's not that I don't understand the reaction (although, in truth, I don't really) but that I don't understand the overreaction, these people go from zero to in-fucking-censed in half a second flat. Surely instead of flagging your friend's breastfeeding pics as obscene, it would be better and much more reasonable just not to look at them. Unless, of course, there are a lot of nineteenth century vicars on facebook; in which case I get it.
posted by ob at 6:33 PM on January 6, 2009


200+ comments and as far as I can tell no one has hit this yet . . . .

The set, the pitch . . . .

MetaFilter: Breast of the Web

/Sad trombone
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:43 PM on January 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


A tip of the hat, fourcheesemac, a tip of the hat.
posted by ob at 6:54 PM on January 6, 2009


"Note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site."


Joe, after all you said you hide behind that?

What an ass.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:15 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Joe, you can't talk about yourself and expect nobody else to join in.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:30 PM on January 6, 2009


What an ass.

"Note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site."

Or would you prefer "I'm rubber, you're glue"?
posted by Joe Beese at 7:35 PM on January 6, 2009


So...lemme get this straight...there are actually guys out there who complain about females getting their breasts out in public? Are these the same ones who stare bug-eyed and moist-lipped at the chest area of well-endowed females in tight tops as they jiggle along? Or who, when conversing with a salesgirl or the like, can't help their eyes from flickering down and wondering at the myriad wonders of her fragrant bosom? Or who elbow their buddies in the ribs and point out the various shapes and sizes of female passersby?

I think it is. I think they dislike public breastfeeding because it has desexualised the breast. It's like, oh man, they're feeding mechanisms, and so bloaty and dark and veiny, so what the fuck are they going to spend their waking moments thinking about now? Knees?
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:40 PM on January 6, 2009


From your link:

"The number of women who experience PMS depends entirely on the stringency of the definition of PMS.[22] While 80% of menstruating women have experienced at least one symptom that could be attributed to PMS, estimates of prevalence range from as low as 3%[23] to as high as 30%.[22]"

Speaking as one of the 70% of women who does not suffer from PMS (other than my mother's charming reference to Putting up with Men's Shit) I find it irritiating, nay, offensive that my dissent, and the dissent of other women, is so often dismissed as being "just hormonal". In fact, one could hypothesise that the outrage of men at breastfeeding is purely out of jealosy, and all the women becoming outraged are jealous that their own paps are dry and their wombs barren. But you know, there are a lot of really complex issues behind this, and it does everyone a disservice to boil it down to blaming the hormones.

The protest group is as justified in their protest as any other group on Facebook, as is proven by their ongoing existence. A lot of the rage comes from the prevalence of highly sexual images illustrated here that escape comment. The double standard is as much a problem here as anything else that has been raised.

Further complicating things is the vague wording of the TOS. When you use words like "obscene" and "vulgar" as your only defining criteria, you bring into question that community's standards.The thing with community standards is that they are not concrete, they vary from place to place, and are never really solidly defined. Protest groups are part of the mechanism that defines these standards in the first place, by vocalising what members of the group consider to fit the definitions of "obscene". All lactivism aside, what Facebook is doing is ignoring the community's definition of the words in its TOS. When your site is hypersocial by nature, the feedback from your community is much more important than whether your fries were too cold. People define the comunities they inhabit, offline and on.
posted by Jilder at 7:42 PM on January 6, 2009


So...lemme get this straight...there are actually guys

and girls....

out there who complain about females getting their breasts out in public?

yes.

Are these the same ones who stare bug-eyed and moist-lipped at the chest area of well-endowed females in tight tops as they jiggle along? Or who, when conversing with a salesgirl or the like, can't help their eyes from flickering down and wondering at the myriad wonders of her fragrant bosom? Or who elbow their buddies in the ribs and point out the various shapes and sizes of female passersby?

sometimes, but not always.

I think it is. I think they dislike public breastfeeding because it has desexualised the breast. It's like, oh man, they're feeding mechanisms, and so bloaty and dark and veiny, so what the fuck are they going to spend their waking moments thinking about now? Knees?
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:40 PM on January 6 [+] [!]


I think you are over-generalizing here. Not all men dislike public breast feeding and the ones that don't like it are not all because they don't want to see the breast "desexualized." Not all women are for it either.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 7:51 PM on January 6, 2009


my youngest child is white and am black (light skin but still negroid). i loved breastfeeding him in public just for the looks on (mostly) white people's faces. i even had a little old lady ask me if i was a wet nurse.

good times. good times.
posted by liza at 7:51 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


my last sentence is unclear. I am trying to say that:

reasons for disliking public breastfeeding are complex* and to generalize it as you have done is insulting to men because you assume that men cannot get over the SEX part of women's bodies.


*just like the reasons for it
posted by silkygreenbelly at 7:56 PM on January 6, 2009


I also have never suffered anything that could be identified as PMS, at least in the range of mood related symptoms that are supposed to characterize it. There are some physical symptoms, and cramps can hurt like hell, but as far as hormonal wibbles that affect my behaviour, well, all human beings have hormones. I find the "bitchy PMS" stereotype on par with "testosterone poisoning" jokes, myself.
posted by jokeefe at 8:07 PM on January 6, 2009


I was going to get into this conversation, but then I remembered a similiar discussion that I got involved in. OH SHIT HELL NO.
posted by bradth27 at 8:40 PM on January 6, 2009


silkygreenbelly, your argument against desexualization as the reason for breastfeeding's offensiveness would be more convincing to me if the nudity taboo were not the result of the sexualization of womens' breasts in the first place. I mean, public nursing is obscene either because it desexualizes breasts or because the breasts remain sexualized, right? There's no other reason of their visibility to be taboo.

I suffer PMS verging lately on PMDD and I'm a freaking champ about it. Not having PMS doesn't make you any better qualified to despise the stereotypes.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:09 PM on January 6, 2009


I made no argument. I simply said I thought turgid dahlia was over-generalizing things.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 9:49 PM on January 6, 2009


As a man, I can say that I am very glad the penis does not play a role in feeding children. That would not bode well for the internet.
posted by tehloki at 10:05 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


the ones that don't like it are not all because they don't want to see the breast "desexualized."

Really, what other reasons? Seeing them, sexualized? That's the only other option I can think of.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:35 PM on January 6, 2009


I tried to clarify what I was trying to say in my second comment. You know, the one where I said, "my last sentence is unclear." and then went about trying to explain better. Let me try one more time:

Men who do not like seeing public breast feeding have many reasons for not wanting to see it. It is an over generalization to say that "they [the men who don't like public breast-feeding] dislike public breastfeeding because it has desexualised the breast".

In my comment I was simply trying to point out to turgid dalhia that I did not appreciate the broad generalizations made in that comment.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 11:44 PM on January 6, 2009


Men who do not like seeing public breast feeding have many reasons for not wanting to see it.

You keep saying this, but would it be possible to articulate these reasons?
posted by grouse at 11:47 PM on January 6, 2009


They fall to the floor screaming "dirty pillows! dirty pillows!" at the sight of them?
posted by Artw at 11:51 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


They do get to tell me if I can share photos of an utterly normal part of my life with my friends on that particular site. But that one site is not the entire internet, and preventing me from using one particular site to share pictures with my friends is not the same as preventing me from sharing pictures with my friends.


It sets/reinforces a precedent in a very powerful, and unfortunately unassailably credible way, because breastfeeding mothers are a disparate and preoccupied, but also universal demographic. It's a precedent that shouldn't be set, because it says it's ok for private institutions that have penetrated deeply into the fabric of society to dictate moral values to us.

Like it or not, an institution as vast as facebook is already well past the realm of private company choosing its moral values. You're an anachronism in modern society if you don't use facebook. This is on the same moral page as banks refusing to loan black people money, only it's more insidious, because it targets a temporal demographic that is preoccupied with a huge, huge undertaking, raising a child, and it targets them solidly in the realm of the social and subjective, leaving them almost no recourse for public sympathy or legal redress. If this is facebook's user flags, then it's allowing mob rule. If this is facebook's own photo censors, then this is dictatorial.

You tell me what mother has the time or the inclination to go to court and prove psychological harm in this case. The means of redress that those harmed by this policy have are few. Many people will, as you have claimed, be much less inclined to use facebook, but facebook has the critical mass of people, and I think it would be rather difficult to find alternatives as convenient. Is a social networking site of breastfeeding mothers supposed to spring up somewhere? Ok, now how do you take users from facebook and provide the same usability? The vast majority of the public is apathetic, as they are in most cases of minority abuse. If facebook won't put protections in place, there are no reasonable alternatives. And that pisses me off to no end.
posted by saysthis at 11:52 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Come to think of it, were this my FPP, "Dirty pillows!" would be the title. Probably it's best that I don't do the breastfeeding FPPs.
posted by Artw at 11:52 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]




saysthis writes "This is on the same moral page as banks refusing to loan black people money"

This is the police. Put down the internets and step away from the civil rights movement.

Seriously, this is why we can't have nice things.

saysthis writes "If this is facebook's user flags, then it's allowing mob rule."

If you add a 'mob' as your friends you're pretty much asking for whatever happens, be it flagging your breast photos or sending you over 9000 unwanted invites to their lame facebook apps.
posted by mullingitover at 12:46 AM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dirty pillows!
posted by Artw at 1:14 AM on January 7, 2009


It's not that I don't understand the reaction (although, in truth, I don't really) but that I don't understand the overreaction, these people go from zero to in-fucking-censed in half a second flat.

As a friend of mine once said, when we were wondering why people could get very very incensed over something relatively small, "Some people's lives must just be really boring."

(Note to everyone else -- I'm not speaking of the reasons for the offense as such -- hey, look, everyone has different standards of privacy and there are many reasons for that and that's cool -- this is more about the volume of the keening on either side. You may be thrown at the sight of unexpected naked boob, but the way some people react TO seeing a naked boob you'd think that just glancing at it would give you optical leprousy.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:11 AM on January 7, 2009


Regarding unexpected boobage crossing your news feed and the theory that this action was taken by friends flagging their friends' precious suckling infants, it's unclear to me whether this was how it went down. I can't access that article that's on the group page right now to quote it, but it seemed to me that a couple of the women quoted DID have their profiles/photos set with stricter privacy.
posted by desuetude at 7:56 AM on January 7, 2009


I'm just not understanding the argument that nursing is against Facebook's TOS (in which it is not mentioned specifically) therefore no one has a right to complain. The photos were deemed "offensive" or "vulgar" by someone in the community. Setting up a protest group is letting the community know their opinions are possibly in the minority and they are maybe wrong about what the community deems offensive or vulgar. So the Facebook protests are not only directed at Facebook, but at the community members that are flagging photos unnecessarily as a way of educating them. From the blog it didn't sound like Facebook was even communicating with the woman who was asked to remove a nursing infant photo. Does Facebook even look at the flagged photos before deleting them? Quick, someone with an account flag photos of interracial couples kissing as obscene and see if Facebook takes them down.
posted by saucysault at 8:40 AM on January 7, 2009


I think the argument is roughly similart to the one that "someone in a uniform did it, therefore they must be right" that we see in cop and TSA threads.
posted by Artw at 9:41 AM on January 7, 2009


desuetude writes "it seemed to me that a couple of the women quoted DID have their profiles/photos set with stricter privacy."

It is possible to set photo privacy to 'Only Me,' however I find it highly unlikely that these people uploaded pictures to Facebook which they had no intention of showing to their friends. I wasn't able to find anyone claiming that their photos were on the 'Only Me' level of privacy either in the group or in any of the articles linked from the group page.
posted by mullingitover at 5:05 PM on January 7, 2009


"Men who do not like seeing public breast feeding have many reasons for not wanting to see it."

You keep saying this, but would it be possible to articulate these reasons?
posted by grouse at 11:47 PM on January 6 [+] [!]


Who knows? Maybe they had a traumatic breast experience as a child. Maybe they don't like babies in general. Maybe, like someone pointed out earlier, they believe they will go to hell as a result of seeing a breast. Maybe they have some reason that they are really embarrassed about and when some one asks why they don't like it, they say it is obscene, not because they think it is, but because of some other weird hang up. Maybe they really aren't quite sure why they are uncomfortable, they just are. The list could go on I am sure. Even if you are completely comfortable with the idea of popping your breast out in front of everyone, is it polite to do so when it makes other people uncomfortable?
Crying is completely natural too, but it isn't considered polite to let your baby cry and cry while you wander around the store or placidly eat your food at a restaurant.

For my part, I cannot understand why it is such a big deal to be discreet about breast feeding while you are in public. I am not particularly phased by seeing breast (whether an infant is attached or not). But I can certainly understand that other people are. I guess I find it a little grating that so many people are so insistent on making other people uncomfortable.
I am not anti-breastfeeding in public. I am anti-breastfeeding in public.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 7:22 PM on January 7, 2009


Maybe they had a traumatic breast experience as a child
Those are complex reasons? Your dismissal of the sexualisation of the breast in the United States hinges on childhood traumatic breast experience? I'm not even sure what you mean by that.

Is it polite to do so when it makes other people uncomfortable?
My father until quite recently was made uncomfortable by interracial couples, therefore they should they not go out in public to be polite (come to think of it, he probably doesn't like queer PDA either so they should stop that too). I hate the phrase "tolerant society" but I think since the benefits of nursing far outweigh risk of an adult having a "traumatic breast experience", people really should be more tolerant.

I guess I find it a little grating that so many people are so insistent on making other people uncomfortable.
Me too, I wish more women were able to feed their child in public without the fear of snide comments and looks made specifically to make them uncomfortable (let alone paparazzi stalking them for a boob shot).
posted by saucysault at 9:30 PM on January 7, 2009


Saucysault, you don't think there's a middle ground between "woman with breast completely exposed to the world" and "woman exiled to only breastfeeding at home"?

Silkygreenbelly is talking about all breastfeeding mothers. Only a small handful. 99% of the nursing mothers I've seen in public have used nursing shawls or blankets, and I don't think these are the people that silkygreenbelly is talking about. And I personally feel that people who get bent out of shape by someone discreetly nursing with a small blanket or nursing shawl are themselves being unreasonable, for the record.

I think the people silkygreenbelly is talking about are a small handful who don't use a shawl and don't make any effort at discretion at all -- I don't personally know of any, but if there were an instance where I were to encounter a woman who was doing so, I would also feel that others would be justified in at least wishing she'd get a shawl or something.

Not because I am "dismissing the sexualisation of the breast in the United States", mind -- I agree that it'd be great if our society were open enough for people to not be hung up on that kind of thing. However, I also think it'd be great if our society were open enough for me to regularly not wear pants. But, even though I think this, I put on pants in the morning for the sake of propriety. Wearing pants is not going to kill me, after all, and I can just take them off when I'm at home.

The reasons why our society has a nudity taboo are myriad, varied, and complex. Psychololgists are still hammering them out. But the reasons for those taboos are beside the point to their existance. I don't think anyone in here is saying all nursing mothers should be in a burqua 24/7, I think the majority opinion in here is, "okay, cool, but if you're sitting in the middle of the Barnes & Noble, maybe just a small shawl over breast-and-baby would be a cool thing, eh?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:38 AM on January 8, 2009


....that is, silkygreenbelly is NOT talking about all breastfeeding mothers. (When can we edit comments???)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:39 AM on January 8, 2009


Yeah, sure, but it's not okay with me to just write People Who Get Offended a blank check without requiring them to have some kind of cogent expression of why they need others to modify their behavior in order to feel alright, especially when there is a practical benefit TO the other person in the choice they've made. I personally think "get up and go somewhere private" or "use additional garments to construct a blind over yourself" are more to ask than "just ignore it and move on," and therefore the burden lays with the affronted one.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:47 AM on January 8, 2009


I don't think anyone in here is saying all nursing mothers should be in a burqua 24/7, I think the majority opinion in here is, "okay, cool, but if you're sitting in the middle of the Barnes & Noble, maybe just a small shawl over breast-and-baby would be a cool thing, eh?"

I think you need to read the thread again then. Has anyone here ever seen a breastfeeding mother who wasn't trying to be discrete?
posted by stinkycheese at 1:29 PM on January 8, 2009


Has anyone here ever seen a breastfeeding mother who wasn't trying to be discrete?

Yeah, but only in photos on Facebook.
posted by grouse at 1:32 PM on January 8, 2009


Has anyone here ever seen a breastfeeding mother who wasn't trying to be discrete?

That's precisely my point -- that the kind of people that silkygreenbelly was talking about are very few and far between, and so silkygreenbelly is not posing any threat to anything that you are personally doing in the first place. In fact, you and silkygreenbelly may even agree on this point.

So rather than all of us retreating to our far corners on this one issue and getting up in each other's grill, I was actually advocating taking deep breaths and listening to each other and trying to figure out what each other is ACTUALLY saying, rather than you attacking silkygreenbelly for being "breastfeeding hater" when silkygreenbelly is only saying "just use a damn shawl." Then you could say "oh hey, I do, you actaully saw someone who didn't? ...That is a little weird," and silkygreenbelly would be all, "I know, huh?" and you'd get into a conversation and maybe invite each other out for hot dogs sometime and your kids would be friends and....

Okay, maybe not THAT much, but at least we wouldn't be as much at each other's throats when there's not even a reason to be. That's all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:45 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Breastfeeding is awesome and it makes me sad when women feel weird about feeding their babies in public. It's sad that it's so unfamiliar to so many people (myself included) and that often, people (myself, on occasion included) feel flustered or aren't sure where to look because it's literally the oldest and most normal thing in human existence.
that said - I'm sympathetic to facebook, and here's why: the general rule on facebook is no naked boobs. Because, in our culture, that makes it a dirty picture. Facebook didn't make the cultural rules, they're just following them. And breastfeeding pictures often show nipple (OMG) and what if it's a picture when you can see the nipple a little? or a picture after the baby pulls away and smiles at the camera and you can see it completely? What if mom is underage? and etc. I can see why they'd want to just make a blanket rule.
posted by moxiedoll at 4:06 PM on January 8, 2009


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