Nursing Mom Takes on Creepy 'Breastfeeding Fetishist' Who Stole Her Facebook Photo

ashley reede

Mom of four Ashley Reede has always been a proud breastfeeder -- which is why she decided to post a professionally taken photo of her nursing her 5-month-old on the public Facebook page Breast is Best Without Fear. The last person she thought would end seeing -- and sharing -- her photo was a stranger ... a breastfeeding fetishist.

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"I spotted a comment from a man ... that said, 'I love breastfeeding milk me,'" recalls the 29-year-old mom from Austin, Colorado. "When I first saw it, I was like 'OK, that's odd.'"

Here's the photo the man in question was commenting on in full:

ashley reede

Reede didn't know the man who had shared the photo, and when she went to his personal Facebook page, she was horrified to see that it featured not only her breastfeeding photo, but many more -- all with the same creepy caption. She also saw "likes" for pages about adult breastfeeding relationships, adults in diapers, and most disturbing of all, sites about adults raping children in their sleep.

"To see my photo used in such a derogatory, demeaning manner was so upsetting and humiliating," she told The Stir.

As an administrator of the Breast is Best Without Fear page, Reede contacted Facebook asking that her photo be taken off the stranger's page, but the social networking site said there was nothing they could do. Because her photo had been shared in a public forum, it could be shared by anyone. 

Lacking any other recourse, Reede decided to take her photo down, which would remove it from any page that had shared it -- including the stranger.

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While Reede is by no means surprised to stumble across creeps online, she's irate that Facebook doesn't do more to protect moms and children -- particularly given how they'd recently changed their policies to embrace more breastfeeding images on their site.

"I think the fact that they no longer ban breastfeeding photos is a step in the right direction, but there a things they could to make things better -- like giving moms in public forums control over how and where their photos are shared," she says. "I'm angry at Facebook for letting these disgusting pages stay on their site. Why is Facebook not doing something about this? It's a huge problem."

Reede has started an online petition to get Facebook to change the setting that would allow public page owners to approve or deny shares, much like they can approve or deny tags -- that way they'd be better able to protect their images and fans. 

Currently, photos on private Facebook pages remain exactly that: private. You control who can see them, share them, and tag them. But photos on public pages can be shared or commented on by anyone in any manner without permission from the photo's owner or the administrator on the page where it was originally posted. That's what Reede hopes to change with her petition, which states:

We, the undersigned, call on Facebook to eliminate the sharing of posts on a public page. Give Administration and Page Owners the ability to approve and or deny a fan to share from a public page.

She's asking moms to sign their names to help the cause, but in the meantime, what should moms be doing to keep their photos safe from creeps like this? For now, the best -- and only sure -- way is to keep your breastfeeding photos on your private Facebook page so that only approved members of your circle can view them. Still, Reede says this solution isn't ideal, since the whole point is to get more breastfeeding photos out there!

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"Keeping breastfeeding photos private defeats the purpose of normalizing breastfeeding," she points out. "That's why our petition hopes to give us more control over public pages, make them just a little bit safer."

Yet even knowing what she does now, she does not regret posting her pic publicly.

"I would share my photo again!" she says. "It's a beautiful keepsake, and I'm proud of it. I shouldn't have to hide it, and I'm not going to. I share because I'm not ashamed. If me sharing a photo gives a breastfeeding mom the confidence to share her photo with who she chooses, then I've done a great job!"

And in spite of this one bad experience with a fetishist, she was touched to see how breastfeeding moms fought back once they heard what had happened with her photo. 

"A lot of community members got upset," she says. "Since this fetishist's Facebook page said he worked at McDonald's, someone called and notified the restaurant, who decided to fire him." The man's Facebook page is no longer on the site, and although it's unclear who was responsible -- the man or Facebook -- Reede still counts it as a victory.

"One thing I've from this is there's a lot of support for breastfeeding moms," she says. "Yes, there are people who bash or do other awful things, but we can overcome it. There's always support out there. Seek it out we are there."

How would you feel if your breastfeeding photo were shared by a fetishist?

 

Image via Jennifer Roth Photography

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