A group of mothers is angry at sites like Facebook and Myspace. Not because they allow nudity to be uploaded by their users, but because they don’t.
These mothers want to be able to upload pictures of their babies breastfeeding. They seem unable to realize that showing an exposed breast is not always socially acceptable, particularly on websites that lots of young people visit with little to no parental guidance.
These women are screaming “discrimination,” claiming that policies that ban certain amounts of exposed flesh are arbitrarily enforced and unfairly target women. Facebook seems to have specific guidelines about what portions of the breast itself should not be shown.
I will agree with them on one point: breastfeeding is a natural, normal human function.
The trouble with this argument is simple: The sexual intercourse that fertilized the egg and thereby created the child that eventually needs to breastfeed is also a natural, normal human function. But we don’t need to see pictures of that, either.
A friend of mine from church just put a picture of her newborn on her Facebook page. It’s a shot of her looking at her baby, and the baby has the most adorable grin you’ve ever seen in your life. If you’re even remotely soft-hearted, such an image will just make you smile before you even realize you’re smiling.
While breastfeeding may be a “beautiful” process for the mothers themselves, some of the rest of us aren’t all that comfortable with it. Especially when it’s just “out there” for the rest of us to look at, whether we want to or not. It doesn’t have to be a matter of being a prude; imagine the woman who has lost a baby, or the woman who has suffered breast cancer. While I can’t imagine being in either position, I can imagine that seeing the image of a newborn breastfeeding might be a little torturous for any woman who has gone through either situation.
Sites like Facebook and Myspace own their web spaces. They have every right to say what is and isn’t allowed; and you can bet that if they didn’t take the liberties of creating some kind of policy about what is and isn’t decent, a lot more parents would be speaking out against them. If women feel they’re being discriminated against just because they can’t show their entire breast, there are always other sites to look for.
Maybe these angry moms should start their own, where they make the rules about what gets shown and what doesn’t. It is a free country, after all. There’s nothing to stop them from making their own site if they don’t like what other people deem acceptable. They could even require membership, so they can know exactly who’s looking, and why.
One might think such a question might cross their mind before they’d post such things anyway.
In any case, maybe this pseudo-controversy is a good sign: if this is the kind of thing that’s making mothers irate — if this is the worst of their problems — maybe 2009 isn’t going to be such a bad year after all.