Dear Facebook: There Is Nothing 'Obscene' About Breastfeeding

Rant 29

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

time for mom


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

nonmember avatar Megan

Sorry, I couldn't take in the article cause I was too busy looking at the CUTE sweet baby feeding. Memories flooding in, oh the sweetness and bonding. ALMOST makes me want another one. Almost. PRECIOUS. Now, for the reading.... ;) <3 BF

angev... angevil53

just bc i don't mind bf'ing photos doesn't give someone else the right to put those pictures up if the owner's of the website say they violate their photo priviledges. it's plain and simple, fb isn't "yours" it belongs to creators and therefore what they say goes. i think the bigger problem here is the fact that your own friends are the ones flagging your inappropriate pics. i have bf'ing pics myself but i don't get huffy about them being on a public site bc let's face it i don't feel like i need acknowledged for bf'ing.

nonmember avatar Emme

It's one thing to breastfeed, it's another to post pictures of you doing it online for any of your unwitting "friends" to see. Why is it necessary? If you want to have a picture of it, keep it to yourself - you're the only person who's going to truly enjoy it anyway.

paren... parentalrights1

Even if one breast IS exposed, treating it as indecent is a way of still saying that breasts are obscene or sexual.

Breastfeeding is not obscene. Period.

jpfsmom jpfsmom

What Angel said. I don't find bf pictures obscene but personally I don't feel the need to share it with my fb world, that's just me but I guess there are some nursing moms that feel the need to do that...validation? Shock value? Nothing better to do? Not sure, nor do I care... People seem to get a bigger kick out of first steps, first trip to disney etc. So I stick to that and actually would rather see the same but to each its own.

momma... mommaluvto5

I wouldn't mind this rule if they applied it to non breastfeeding pictures as well as the breastfeeding ones.  Problem is, I have seen far more obscene pictures on facebook that show far more breast (or other body parts) than any breastfeeding picture I have ever seen... and facebook doesn't take those down.  I've even done some experimenting with "flagging" them and facebook responds saying they are not in violation, but my friend who had a picture of her nursing her child, with a tiny bit of cleavage showing, had hers taken down.  

jpfsmom jpfsmom

Also...FB is an optional service...if you don't like the rules, don't use it, simple as that.

ms_mo... ms_morgan

I think Facebook had the best reply to it.  If there is a breast COMPLETELY exposed, not being covered by the baby, then yes...that's nudity and should be reported.  I agree with angevil53 - you don't OWN Facebook, and you have to play by their rules if you are on it.  If you don't agree with their policies, get off...that simple.  It's not like they are the federal government trying to BAN breastfeeding.  Also agree with Emme, why is it necessary to post those photos?? If your true friends REALLY want to see you breastfeeding, show them on your camera or prints, not on a public forum.

Kwiat2 Kwiat2

There are bigger fights to fights than what you can or can't do on Facebook. You don't have to use it if you don't like their rules.

Stacey. Stacey.

See FB is a private business, who can make whatever crazy rules they want, and change things whenever they want. I bet if any of these nursing moms owned a business, they'd go batshit crazy if other people tried to start policing THEIR businesses (look how crazy they are over some photos!). It goes both ways.

1-10 of 29 comments 123 Last