Monday, January 5, 2009


I’m absolutely loving the controversy on Facebook over the obscenity or lack thereof, when it comes to women showing pictures of themselves breastfeeding their babies. I’ll be upfront at the outset, I don’t really care about the issue itself, but I just can’t help but sit back, laugh and enjoy the ride when political correctness collides with political correctness. There’s just something very satisfying about it.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar, breastfeeding photos have become something of an in vogue art form. And it’s hard to argue with the idea of there being a more maternal image out there than a baby suckling. The problem is that a lot of mothers are having pictures of themselves breastfeeding and posting them on their Facebook pages.

When you sign up for Facebook, you agree not to post any objectionable or obscene images. With Facebook being as huge as it is, they can’t monitor every single picture uploaded, so they must rely on users reporting objectionable material and when a picture is reported, a Facebook staff member looks it over to see if it violates their policy.

Living, as we do, in an age where making objective, reasonable decisions is an obsolete skill, Facebook has to have certain rules so that their staffers will know what is obscene and what isn’t obscene. Women’s nipples fall into the no-no category. It’s an automatic response. Nipples = violation = removal of the picture from the site.

Well as you might imagine, the mommies are a little upset over the fact that pictures of them breastfeedin g are being termed obscene. Facebook is stuck though, because even if they agree that the act of breastfeeding isn’t obscene, if there is a nipple showing, then the staff viewing the picture would be forced to make a judgment as to each photo’s obscenity level and we’re long past the days when people were capable of actual reason and thought. If rules weren’t laid out with zero tolerance guidelines…well, that would just be anarchy! Personal interpretation of rules and laws, well that’s just so antiquated!

And so, what we’re left with is political correctness vs. political correctness! When political correctness collides with common sense, the winner is always, of course political correctness, but what will happen when different factions of political correctness go to war? The best part is that it seems to be splitting apart people who usually play for the same team! It’s sister vs. sister in the Facebook Civil War!

The idea that the image of a woman breastfeeding is a beautiful, healthy image that is appropriate for anyone of any age to see has feminist origins. The idea that women are exploited on the internet and that nude photos of women are obscene also has feminist roots. It’s hard not to sit back and enjoy the gee golly whiz to heck out of this battle!

Now, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that by no means do I think feminism is a bad thing. It’s just the example at hand where political correctness is always part of the issue. It could be a story about race, religion or any number of things where this happened and of course, equality between the sexes, races and religions are all extremely important and valid pursuits, but in this instance, the line of what is politically correct and what isn’t is very blurry and many different women=2 0have many different opinions on the matter. In short, it’s not a black and white subject. It’s a shade of gray subject and our society has seen to it that we are completely unprepared for such circumstances.

Facebook has followed the mandates of society and set black and white rules up as to what is and isn’t allowed on their site so that the robots they employ don’t need to factor in any critical thinking to do their jobs. If (a) is true, then action is (b). If (a) is false, then action is (c). There’s no room for interpretation. In this case, a nipple is a nipple is a nipple and while that nipple may be nourishing a child in an act of motherly love, it’s still a nipple and nipples are bad, evil, exploitative; showing them demeans women and offends the sensibilities of God-fearing folk (never mind that He put em there for a reason).

It’s a beautifully constructed and inescapable Catch-22. The situation is a thing of absolute and undeniable beauty! The idea that an image of a woman breastfeeding is obscene is offensive! The idea that an image of a nipple can be shown freely and openly on a site frequented by kids is offensive! Everyone is offended! Woo hoo!

As is often the case with polarized views, each side thinks that they are right and poor robotic Facebook is caught in the middle. They have to stick to their rules or people will have to…*shudder*…think! Because once you allow a nipple to be seen during breastfeeding, you open the door to those who think that a nipple shown artistically is just as beautiful. I mean, you can’t allow a mother to show her nipple and not allow a woman without child to do the same can you? Of course not, all things must be fair and equal! Surely nursing isn’t the only time a nipple is non-pornographic right?
Oh, I hope this fight continues! I hope MySpace publically supports and allows breastfeeding pictures so that Facebook has to make a business decision about allowing them or not. After all, money does talk. Wouldn’t it be great if companies had to blur the line between what is and isn’t allowed? If their employees had to make judgment calls? And won’t it be wonderful when others who want to display loving acts question those judgment calls? Where is the line? Who is to say what is love and what is porn? What is art and what is exploitation? There are armies of rock throwers in forts made of glass lining up for a fight. Sometimes, you just can’t help but love the hoops we make our society jump through as we defy the commandment to judge not, lest we be judged ourselves. It’ll be a fun ride for sure. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Beverly said...

It's fascinating, I agree. I can't help but think the anti-breast feeding picture people are barking up the wrong, tree, though. I guess we'll see!