Dear Facebook: There Is Nothing 'Obscene' About Breastfeeding

Facebook has long been an enemy of some breastfeeding moms. They have long been accused of deleting accounts with breastfeeding photos and deleting groups that are dedicated to lactation. Now they finally ticked off enough breastfeeding moms that they are going to have to deal with these women in person rather than online. And they should beware. There are fewer things fiercer than a mom who is feeling scorned.

Several moms are holding a "nurse-in" outside of the Facebook offices. They are going to make sure that the number one social media site finally sees those whom they deem "obscene" in person. And they should. This has been going on for far too long.

Many Facebook accounts have been deleted due to a breastfeeding photo that was deemed "obscene". But what was in those photos?


Midwife Emma Kwasnica launched an "official petition" through a Facebook group she called, "Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!"

Kwasnica told the Houston Chronicle:

This is discrimination. There's no other way to look at it. We're being treated as pornographers. Breast-feeding moms, especially ones with infants, spend hours a day with their children at their breast. They're not trying to be sexually explicit. This is just part of their everyday lives.

Any mom who has ever breastfed knows this to be true. Our breasts cease to be sexual to us and they become immensely functional. If a picture of a baby drinking from a bottle isn't obscene, then why is one of a baby drinking in the most basic way possible? Our bodies are BUILT to make milk and to feed our babies. There is nothing "sexual" about that, no matter how much Mark Zuckerberg's empire believes it to be so.

Facebook came back with a statement that does raise some questions about obscenity:

On some occasions, breastfeeding photos contain nudity -- for example an exposed breast that is not being used for feeding -- and therefore violate our terms. When such photos are reported to us and are found to violate our policies, the person who posted the photo is contacted, and the photos are removed. Our policies strive to fit the needs of a diverse community while respecting everyone’s interest in sharing content that is important to them, including experiences related to breastfeeding.

As a mom who breastfed two children for four years, I will say that it never once occurred to me to post a photo of my entire breast on Facebook. I even kept photos of me in the act of feeding my children very private (to the point where I actually can't find any).

In theory, I agree with these moms and I think there is nothing obscene about breastfeeding. That said, I don't want to see a photo of my friend's breast entirely exposed on Facebook. Sure, it's not obscene. But why would a person share that in such a public space?

It's a fine line in such a public space. Some people are going to be offended by the most innocuous breastfeeding photos and some will not be bothered by full on toplessness, replete with babe over shoulder.

Facebook probably does need to change the policy because as it stands, it's simply not fair. They can't decide on a case-by-case basis which photos are "obscene" and which are not. Breastfeeding is either an obscene act or it isn't, and to most moms, the idea that it IS is laughable.

Facebook shouldn't be removing these photos or deleting accounts. That said, maybe moms might want to think twice about what they post. It's less a question of obscenity and more one of etiquette. Breastfeeding is beautiful, but not everyone wants to see their friend completely bare-chested. Maybe Facebook isn't the best forum for such photos.

Do you mind Facebook breastfeeding photos?


Image via Christine Rogers/Flickr

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