Mothers International Lactation Campaign

This is a Facebook virtual event set for Dec. 27. Here is the info from the group:

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A “VIRTUAL” EVENT AND DOES NOT REQUIRE ATTENDANCE AT A LOCATION…
i.e.: There is no reason to not attend! read on…

Facebook continues to classify breastfeeding photos as obscene content. They continue to arbitrarily remove these photos from member albums and profiles, accompanied by warnings of account termination. This is highly discriminatory and an affront to nursing mothers everywhere. In protest of this, Mothers International Lactation Campaign (M.I.L.C.) has planned a virtual day of protest.

Not only is human lactation responsible for the very survival of our species, it is in no way a sexually explicit, lewd or despicable act. It is also protected by law in most countries, including specifically the state where Facebook is headquartered in the USA.

In protest to the discriminatory and unjust policy of Facebook administration classifying breastfeeding images as obscene content, on December 27th, 2008 M.I.L.C. is asking all of you to change your profile picture for one day, to one which includes an image of a nursing mom.

This could be a picture of you or someone you know nursing a child, it could be a painting or image of a sculpture of a breastfeeding woman, it could also be a photo or image of any nursing mammal….We ask that you include the status line of “Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!”

In addition to this ‘virtual nurse-in’, there will be other events planned around the globe. Please check this page often for regular updates and added information. We will also be including images that you can use for your profile picture on December 27th.

Babies everywhere thank you for your support!!!!!

I know a lot of people are uncomfortable with breastfeeding — even in private. I know a lot of people do not want to show pictures of themselves while nursing, or would not nurse with others (except very close friends or family) in attendance. Other women have no problem with it, and will nurse whenever their babies need it. Some are even a bit more… militant? “in your face”? and will deliberately nurse around people who are uncomfortable with it, “just because.”

I don’t totally agree with the aggressive breastfeeders, because even though it’s totally normal and natural, it can be a stumbling block or hindrance to men (I’m thinking of my husband and brother, and then all men by extension) — they can be made uncomfortable by it, or even have sexual, impure, lustful thoughts while seeing it, and just as I would no more put pornography out for men or women to be shocked by, so I wouldn’t put certain breastfeeding pictures out, simply for the purpose of shocking people. Still, I don’t see a reason why discreet breastfeeding pictures shouldn’t be seen, especially in a day in which breastfeeding is still not promoted as widely as it should be. [Besides, I have a sneaking suspicion that most of the people who are so shocked and horrified by pictures of women nursing their babies would not be shocked or horrified by either female or male nudity when seen in movies, pornography, or “works of art”, regardless of how tasteless, vulgar, and gratuitous the images were. In other words, it is not the pictures of the breast(s) that bother these people but the fact that there is a child at the breast, instead of them just being exposed for purely sexual or artistic reasons.]

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the values of people who would turn away from any display of nudity, and consider it vulgar for anyone but especially women to be seen and/or photographed half-dressed or completely naked; but I believe a lot of other people to be hypocritical in that they will most willingly look at half-dressed or completely naked women and not see a problem with it, while turning in disgust from a picture of a woman who is more modest, yet obviously breastfeeding. It’s the hypocrisy that bothers me, not the standards. Most people who are disturbed by “breastfeeding pictures” are probably disturbed by ones that almost seem calculated to shock. And some of these make me uncomfortable, too, but it depends on the circumstances — in a birth video or pictures of a birth, I expect to see some female nudity and it doesn’t bother me; if I’m not expecting to see it, or it seems to be gratuitous flesh, it becomes a bit more disturbing. While I read “Navelgazing Midwife”‘s blog, I was extremely shocked the first time I saw the picture that is the header for the blog. Now that I know it’s coming, I always make sure my husband is not paying attention when I read it — if he is, I’ll wait until he’s not before clicking over there; and I always scroll down as quickly as possible, because he doesn’t need to see that woman’s breasts. It does seem gratuitous, but to each her own.

For Facebook to say that no breastfeeding pictures are allowed because they are all “obscene” is ridiculous. There are certainly some obscene breastfeeding pictures out there, and I don’t mind them deleting those, just as they might any other pictures that are obscene or even pornographic in nature, because there are children who use facebook that shouldn’t be exposed (literally) to such pictures. But such pictures can be allowed to be visible only to certain people, so not everyone can see them.

I’ve gotten a lot of people who happened across my blog because they were searching for lewd or sexually explicit pictures — I check my “blog stats” and I see the search terms people use to find my blog, and there have been many who came to my blog because I use terms related to birth that can also be related to sexual material. But my blog is not in itself explicit. Same with breastfeeding pictures. There needs to be a little sense from these people. Just as the people who came across my blog by accident were disappointed when they saw that I didn’t have sexually explicit material and exercised discernment to realize that what they were looking for wasn’t on my blog, even so the people at Facebook can use a little common sense to realize that not all breastfeeding pictures are sexual in nature.

And here is an excellent video to go along with the post, by way of Birthing Your Baby:

(btw, if you are on facebook, I’m the Kathy Petersen in Tupelo, MS)

10 Responses

  1. My profile photo was the cover of my book– a breastfeeding photo. No one at facebook ever said anything to me. I just found facebook so annoying I deleted my account.

  2. I’m glad I stumbled across your blog – I have invited all my facebook friends to join in this event.

  3. “There are certainly some obscene breastfeeding pictures out there, and I don’t mind them deleting those…”

    I’m curious as to how you would define an “obscene” breastfeeding picture. Assuming we’re talking about a mother truly feeding/nurturing her child and not staged fetish photos, I just can’t think of any context in which I would consider the image obscene.

    That said, I do have to check myself and remember that we’re talking about *pictures* of mothers breastfeeding, and the right (or lack thereof) to display them, NOT a mother’s right to actually feed her child wherever she may (legally) be. That being the case, sadly, I think that Facebook has the right to do whatever it wants with regard to breastfeeding photos. Is it ridiculous that they would target breastfeeding photos as obscene? Of course. But I think it’s equally ridiculous that breastfeeding advocates are bothering to spend time on it. We don’t NEED the “right” to display breastfeeding photos… it’s not even worth fighting for. It does nothing to increase breastfeeding rates, the availability of support and resources, or even awareness, really. All it does is give more fuel to those who think that breastfeeding advocacy is all about waving our boobs around for no other reason than to get attention.

  4. Well, it’s a bit difficult to have a “yardstick” saying this one is but not that one. For me, personally, if I wouldn’t want my husband looking at a woman showing that much flesh in a seductive way, I wouldn’t want him looking at a similar picture of a woman breastfeeding. There are pictures where the intent is to shock, imho; when it’s just a woman matter-of-factly feeding her child, then that’s probably not so bad. Still, it faintly amuses me yet also quite annoys me to have people say that breastfeeding pictures are obscene or too graphic when they are far more discreet than, say, the average Sports Illustrated calendar picture, which these same people would not find problematic at all. And, obviously, the context is a big issue — if I’m reading a breastfeeding book or looking at pictures of correct or incorrect latch, as examples, I would expect to see nipples and fully exposed breasts; if I’m looking at somebody’s photo album on their coffee table, I’d probably be a little taken aback by the same picture.

  5. Can you tell me more about how Face Book classifies bf photos as obsene? If I put a bf photo as my profile picture, what will they do? What if there are bf pictures in an album on my page? Does FB has written information about this? And what sort of communication have you had with them? I really appreaciate any and all info you can share with me. Thank you.

    • Kim,

      I don’t know how it works. Since Denise said above that she had a b/f picture as her profile picture without incident, it may be that someone may have to complain about a picture for it to be brought to the attention of the FB administrators. There may have been some sort of written info in the original “user agreement” or whatever, but I don’t remember reading anything about it. I’ve not contacted FB at all — just was invited as a birth junkie into the MILC group and decided to blog about it. The information in this post is really all I know about it.

      I do agree that FB should be able to remove pictures that are pornographic, and indeed ought to; but if they are singling out b/f pix as being in and of themselves obscene, even if less flesh is showing than, say, the average bikini pic, then I disagree with that decision. Especially when bikini pix are definitely sexually suggestive in nature while breastfeeding is not.

  6. A few days ago while looking for an old friend named Golfo on Facebook, I accidentally came across a truly offensive and obscene photo posted under the name: “Gerik Golfo Golfo”.
    Could someone please explain to me how this guy could get away with posting a photo of his penis but women are not allowed to post photos of feeding their babies?!?!?!?

    Someone at Facebook has to re-evaluate their rules and what exactly is considered offensive and pornographic.

  7. […] on breastfeeding photos by now. If you haven’t, you can read about it here and here and there and […]

  8. […] Posts Mothers International Lactation CampaignHappy Birthday, Jordyn Duggar!Breech birth video!Lots of Birth VideosThe Umbilical CordCourt […]

  9. […] du droit égal aux seins nus Mothers Internation Lactation Campain (MILC) Un autre blog sur MILC Mise à jour : Waska.org avait participé à cette campagne un peu […]

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