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Facebook Reawakens The Lactivist Monster

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Facebook Reawakens The Lactivist Monster

Originally posted at David Horowitz’s Newsreal:

There are few people easier to offend than the “lactivists”. These are the breastfeeding moms who think that breastfeeding is akin to something holy and sacred, and get outrageously outraged if you mention that formula-feeding is just as good as breastfeeding — and even more so if they aren’t allowed to breastfeed anytime, anywhere they wish. Every so often there will be a story in the news about some hapless manager of a restaurant or a store asking a breastfeeding mom to cover up. The lactivists promptly descend upon said establishment to show their “right” to breastfeed in public and show their boobs to the entire world. The latest target of lactivist rage is Facebook, for daring to limit how much boob can be shown in breastfeeding photos.

The Facebook breastfeeding controversy is nothing new. For three years now, lactivist moms have been complaining that Facebook has been pulling photos of moms breastfeeding their babies. Time Magazine, however, posted an article a week ago fanning the flames, spotlighting a mother who has had her account suspended four times.

In one of the photos that keeps getting Emma Kwasnica’s Facebook account suspended, the Montreal-based mother and breast-feeding activist is tandem nursing, with a newborn at one breast and a two-year-old at the other. Classical art and public health be damned, Facebook has censored countless breast-feeding photos for violating the company’s terms of use, a policy that has inspired more than 250,000 people to join a Facebook group called “Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding Is Not Obscene!” Kwasnica has protested her four account suspensions by e-mailing administrators and keeps doggedly reposting photographs and organizing virtual “nurse-ins” via her Facebook group, Informed Choice: Birth and Beyond.

The Facebook group mentioned above, arguing that breastfeeding isn’t obscene, would like you to believe that the nasty people who run Facebook are just breastfeeding haters who are looking for an opportunity to promote bottle-fed babies over breastfed infants. Hey, what’s a good protest without a little conspiracy thrown in for good measure, right?

Recently, Facebook has started ‘pulling a myspace’ by not allowing people to post profile pictures of babies nursing. The pictures have been reported as ‘obscene’ and have been removed- their posters warned not to repost or fear being kicked off of Facebook.

We’re wondering: what about a baby breastfeeding is obscene? Especially in comparison to MANY other pictures posted all over Facebook that really are obscene.

Facebook, we expect more from you, and we expect you to realize that nursing moms everywhere have a right to show pictures of their babies eating, just like bottle-fed babies have a right to be seen. In an effort to appease the closed-minded, you are only serving to be detrimental to babies, women, and society.

So does Facebook really have a secret anti-breastfeeding agenda? Uh, not so much.

While lactivist moms like to pretend that breastfeeding is so sacred that it means they can violate Facebook’s Terms of Service, that’s not quite the truth. Nor is Facebook hunting down and deleting profiles of mothers with pictures nursing their children. The woman mentioned in the Time article, Emma Kwasnica, currently has a profile photo of her nursing her baby with pretty much her entire breast on display. But hey, just ignore that. This is controversial, dammit. Also ignore that Facebook doesn’t censor the lactivist groups angry about the Facebook breastfeeding controversy. (You might think that if Facebook really had an anti-breastfeeding agenda at play here they would delete the groups, too, but ssshhh — stop thinking so logically! Jeez!)

Reality isn’t quite so controversial. Women can show breastfeeding photos to their heart’s content, displaying as much boobage as they desire — as long as the nipple or the areola is not shown. And so the controversy becomes diluted. Facebook doesn’t give a hoot if you’re showing breastfeeding pictures provided you don’t show too much of the boob. A Facebook spokesman even gushed about how beautiful and natural breastfeeding is.

“We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we’re very glad to know that it is so important to some mothers to share this experience with others on Facebook… photos containing a fully exposed breast – as defined by showing the nipple or areola – do violate [the site’s] terms on obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit material and may be removed… the photos we act upon are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain.”

This is the same standard applied to pictures of girls in skimpy outfits and bikinis. If Facebook suddenly decided that displaying the entire breast was A-OK for breastfeeding moms, then why can’t women post topless pictures? Far from catering to the closed-minded, it seems clear that Facebook is trying to fairly police their obscenity standards. And their Terms of Service do not allow photos showing a fully exposed breast. Is the real beef here that lactivist moms don’t get special treatment? Gee, how horrible — they’re expected to follow the exact same rules as everyone else while using Facebook. What an outrage!

One might think that there’s no controversy here whatsoever. After all, no one is required to use Facebook. Facebook is a private organization with its own rules and standards, and even if they were deleting every breastfeeding photo on the site, they are absolutely free to do so. Angry lactivist moms would likewise be free to stop frequenting Facebook and perhaps create their own social networking site where moms can show off their fully exposed breasts to their heart’s content.

Of course, you would have to assume you’re dealing with reasonable people willing to consider rational arguments. You would be dead wrong — after all, lactivists have a history of going overboard with overblown protests.

Over a year ago, I wrote about how one lactivist threw a temper tantrum over a Chik-Fil-A manager asking her to cover up while breastfeeding. As I noted at the time,

I have to say, I feel for the manager in this situation and not much for the breast-feeding mom. First of all, a restaurant owner or manager should absolutely be allowed to decide how their business operates. If they don’t want breast-feeding moms in their place of business, then that’s their business. It may cost them customers, sure, but it’s their decision to make. Second, you see these stories all the time. Some establishment doesn’t want a mom to breast-feed in public without covering up, or wants them to use the restroom, and you see scores of breast-feeding moms out there in protest. But do those moms ever stop and think about the other patrons? No, because it’s all about them. They want to breast-feed in public, dammit, and to hell with what anyone else thinks. They’re going to stamp their little feet until they get their way, much like the children they’re breast-feeding would do. It doesn’t matter whether or not other customers are uncomfortable, it doesn’t matter if business operators should be able to run their businesses the way they should be run. Women should be allowed to breast-feed in public whether the public likes it or not. When you really think about it, it’s pretty childish.

The lactivist moms don’t seem to care how other people feel about them whipping out their boobs for everyone to see, do they? While most people have no problem seeing a woman breastfeeding in public, they don’t feel particularly comfortable when you can memorize the exact size, color, and placement of the breastfeeding mom’s nipples. A little discretion is all that’s usually asked for, and that request is met with the outrage of a temper tantrum thrown by a two-year-old. They pretend that breastfeeding is some kind of civil right, when it’s nothing of the sort. No one is trying to stop moms from breastfeeding. They’re just asking that when a mother decides to breastfeed in public that she doesn’t give everyone around her a glimpse of what they can also see in Playboy.

I’m expecting my first child next year. I plan on breastfeeding, and there will probably be times when I have to do it in public. Does that mean I feel the need to force my breasts on everyone else? Nope. Does it mean that I suddenly don’t mind seeing every detail of another woman’s boobs? Not really. Unlike lactivist moms, I don’t think discretion is an outrageous request — heck, I don’t want scores of other people looking at my breasts. I also don’t particularly care to make other people feel uncomfortable, and openly breastfeeding without covering up even a little makes many people feel uncomfortable. Most women don’t look at another women’s boobs and think “SEX”, but it doesn’t mean they want to see them, either. Most men don’t mind seeing a woman’s breasts, but when it’s a breastfeeding mom they’re uncomfortable as well — after all, if they so much as glance in her direction for a fraction of a second too long, then they get called a pervert and a creep.

But hey, who cares about how other people feel about it?? Breastfeeding is natural. So women shouldn’t have to show discretion when breastfeeding, right? Well, urinating and defecating are natural, too. But we don’t encourage people to do either of those things in public, do we? A lot of things are natural, but that doesn’t make them suddenly sacred.

Earlier this year, Lori Ziganto wrote about a new Obamacare provision for working mothers to get their very own special breastfeeding rooms at work. Unrelated to the Facebook controversy? Maybe, but it’s an example of how government can step in and force private businesses to cave to outrageous demands from lactivist mommies wanting special treatment.

How far do the Facebook lactivists want to go to get their way?

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  • Jason says:

    In the real world where most of us live, we know that breastfeeding is better than formula, both because of the mother-baby bonding and the health benefits for the baby.

    In this same real world, we also don’t breast-feed our kids so long that they’re walking up and asking for a quick drink.

    Lactivists, as you call them, are a lot like gays, in my mind. They aren’t satisfied with doing what they’re doing unless they can shove it down everyone’s throats around them. The idea that they may need to toss a blanket over the baby while they feed must mean that what they’re doing is somehow wrong.

    What’s wrong with a little modesty? Just a few days ago I was sitting next to a friend who was feeding her new baby. I knew exactly what she was doing, but that blanket over her chest covered her. Her breast isn’t for me to see. She wouldn’t walk around with her shirt hanging open without her baby, so why would she expect to bare it all to feed?

    Maybe the next time a Lactivist makes a scene in a restaurant, everyone else should strip naked and let it all hang out.

  • Fangbeer says:

    I think you finally hit on a subject on which we disagree.

    Well, actually, some fancy cut an paste will help us agree: “who cares about how other people feel about it.”

    I agree. Who cares how people feel about it? Are we really supposed to refrain from doing and saying things in public simply because it makes people feel awkward? Maybe it’s the libertarian in me, but I just don’t understand why I should stop doing something simply because someone else feels I shouldn’t be allowed to do it.

    Show me a public health concern. Show me a concern about the corruption of minors. Show me how public breastfeeding meets even the most obtuse Justice Potter Stewart “I know it when I see it” test for obscenity. Maybe then I’d take your side. Until then I don’t understand how a nipple or areola harms anyone.

    Sure, private business owners have every right to control the operation and patronage of their establishments, but they are not allowed to unfairly discriminate on the basis of race, or sex. What legal standard should business owners apply to remove breast feeders which do not violate our laws against discrimination? Does Facebook also ban male nipples or areola? No? Weird, right?

    Where’s the exact line between pushing boobs in your face and discretely feeding a child? I know my son hates it when my wife covers his head while he’s feeding. It’s distracting to him and makes his meal frustrating and awkward. Why should he feel awkward so that you don’t have to?

  • Sarah says:

    I was going to post a long, elaborate comment but my husband beat me to it. Pfft.

    When you have your child, best of luck to you with breastfeeding. The first two months were sleepless, chapped-nipple hell but persistence paid off. Breast milk *is* best – that’s not silly propaganda. There is a lot of research to support that statement. It has been an amazing experience for my whole family. My older children (and my husband!) have learned many life lessons, as well as the obvious benefit of my bonding with my infant. We plan to continue to breastfeed until my son is ready to wean.

    I cannot cover my son’s head while breastfeeding. He flails and complains and is extremely uncomfortable. You might see my nipple for a tenth of a second, but truth be told, you see a lot less of my breasts than I do yours every time I look at your blog, Cassie.

    As for lactivists being like ‘gays’, that is the most hysterical thing I have ever read. Thanks for the mid-afternoon giggle. I hope you eat your meals in a bathroom stall to avoid potentially offending someone, buddy. If you don’t, then don’t tell my son where to eat his meals.

    This is not a tantrum, but a defense of human rights. I have many friends that breastfeed, and they are all discreet and polite. I am sure there are women that let their breasts hang free for all to see, but I am also certain they are the minority.

    An Intactalactivist

  • “Disagree”? You are just plain wrong.

    And I would like to comment, on FB, about blogs I read–like ‘Flopping Aces’, for example.

    It has been said about my kinfolk that at one time the women were expected to squat behind a row of cotton, give birth, start nursing, and finish picking the row.

    I don’t know that I have ever believed that, but I knew aunts of whom that might have been true.

    I don’t like censorship, anywhere, by anybody. I can make my own judgments for a long long time–and about nursing women and harlots–I’ve been able to tell the difference since I was a little bitty kid.

  • Jay says:

    “Are we really supposed to refrain from doing and saying things in public simply because it makes people feel awkward?”

    Umm, yes. This used to be called “being polite”. Let’s put aside the question of law for the moment and just consider common courtesy. Are you honestly saying that you think that it is perfectly okay for people to do whatever they feel like, with no regard for the feelings of others? So, if someone walked up to your wife and told her she was ugly, that would be just fine, because why should he have to change his behavior just because it offends someone else? What if he decided that he just felt like standing two inches in front of you and screaming insults and obscenities at the top of his lungs? Or urinating on your shoes? Etc etc. Are you honestly saying that there is NO point at which a society can say, “This is rude and unacceptable behavior”?

    I’m not saying that anyone should be able to force you to do or not do something just because he says it offends him. There are reasonable demands and there are unreasonable demands. I think it is perfectly reasonable to say that other people should not scream obscenities in my face. It is not reasonable for me to demand that other people not use language of which I disapprove in private conversations that do not involve me or my wife or children — that’s none of my business. We could debate the middle ground.

    Hey, let me ask you: Suppose your wife breast feeds in public and makes no effort to cover herself. And then suppose some guy walked up to her and said, “Hey, nice tits, babe. I’ll give you ten bucks for a quick bang.” Would you respect his right to say and do whatever he likes regardless of how others feel about it? Or are you right now angry that I would make such rude comments about your wife even in a hypothetical scenario? Are you thinking that I’m lucky that you don’t know my real name or where I live? But why should I have to refrain from saying whatever pops into my head just because it makes someone else feel awkward? Could it be … gasp … that we should occasionally show some respect for the reasonable feelings of others?

  • Fangbeer says:

    This used to be called “being polite”

    Politeness is subjective. For some it’s offensive to see a woman’s ankle. Should we make sure that no woman exposes their ankle for the sake of being polite? What you’re talking about is a slippery slope that is subject to the whim of public opinion. How many people have to be offended before it’s polite to restrict your own freedom? Where do you draw the line? Currently it’s not in the American public interest to make sure that women cover their ankles, but that doesn’t make it any more or less ridiculous aspect of our culture then making sure they cover their nipples.

    The examples you gave seem like shotgun blasts of things you think I might find offensive. Some, rise to the level of illegal, some are just simply silly. Both you and Cassy gave the example of public urination, but it’s not at all analogous to the simple act of making someone feel uncomfortable. Public urination is not illegal simply because it’s offensive. It’s illegal because it poses a health hazard. We restrict the right to take a piss and a dump where you want in order to prevent the spread of disease, not to prevent the spread of awkward feelings.

    Some of the examples of obscene speech that you gave violate actual rights, rather then simply make someone feel awkward or indignant. The example of screaming obscenities, and the example of sexual harassment are threatening. This type of speech is anathema because it raises the specter of actual danger. It is in fact a precursor to actual danger. Are you trying to equate nipples with danger? Do you think that nipples are going to hurt you or your loved ones in some way?

    Again I’ll ask: How does a nipple threaten to violate any of your natural or political rights? Is it a public safety issue? Is it a health hazard? Does it impede your free movement or ability to own property? I mean really, how does it affect you other then making you feel icky?

    I would say a more appropriate analogous example would be asking someone to leave a public area because you don’t like the way their perfume smells. Should the person leave for the sake of being polite or do they have a right to that public area despite the fact they smell funny?

  • Bill says:

    I wouldn’t object too much if Cassy decided to breastfeed in public. In fact, I’d like to be there when it happens.

  • Ironwolf32 says:

    My wife is breastfeeding our youngest. She is pretty casual about it in the privacy of home.

    When we are not at home, she goes to the bathroom and does it. If she can’t, then she will put a blanket over her shoulder to cover the baby during it and find a quiet corner.

    These lactivists are just looking for attention for something that has been done for ages, breastfeeding.

  • Fangbeer says:

    No, I don’t think they are looking for attention. Quite the opposite I think they are looking to be ignored in public, and allowed to share their joy about the experience on a private forum like Facebook without public scorn.

  • Sara says:

    I’d like to comment on the Obamacare paragraph — Do you work in an office? Didn’t think so. If you think its inappropriate for mothers to breastfeed in a restaurant, why are you bashing lactation rooms? Would you rather they sit at their desk while clients and co-workers walk by? Do you really have to relate everything that happens in the world to something you dislike about Obama? My office has had a lactation room with a refrigerator for storage for years and most women are extremely glad for it – as I work in a professional setting, the main use of the room is for pumping, since the women at my office are high powered career women and don’t bring their babies to work. Our restrooms do not have seats and this is a comfortable alternative for women who do not want to breastfeed/pump next to their co-worker but still want to feed their babies breast milk. Really!?! I agree that the facebook protests are ridiculous and I actually thought you made some good points until I got to this last paragraph. Sometimes you can actually intelligently discuss something without bashing the president.

  • mike says:

    Pissing in public is not necessarily a health hazard, but regardless… what if I just want to whip my dick out to let it get some fresh air? You think these lactavists would make common cause with me?

  • Fangbeer says:

    Pissing in public is not necessarily a health hazard

    Thank you doctor Mike. By what basis do you claim that public urination is “not necessarily a health hazard?”

    Escherichia coli (E. coli)

    A micro-organism usually found in the digestive system, E. coli is said to be the main cause of urinary tract infections. Although E. coli normally lives in the colon, it can sometimes stick to the opening of the urethra (the passage of the urine from the bladder) causing an infection as it multiplies and travels through the urethra. Strands of E. coli can affect any part of the urinary system, which consists of the urethra, bladder, ureters and kidneys. When affected, each part develops a different infection. Urethritis, cystitis and pyelonephritis are infections of the urethra, bladder and kidneys correspondingly.

    Read more: Types of Bacteria Found in Urine |

    As for letting your dick out for fresh air:

    1. I don’t give a damn what you do with your dick as long as it’s not used to threaten anyone else.

    2. I don’t see how it compares to using a part of your body to feed your child.

  • mike says:

    Okay, but if we’re ever in a restaurant at the same time while I’m airing out my junk I will expect you to stand up for my rights if the restaurant owner tries to kick me out!

  • Sonja says:

    I think a bit of common sense on both sides would go a long way.

    Lactivists shouldn’t be so in-your-face about breastfeeding, but prudes who gasp at the sight of a woman feeding her child need to suck it up a bit.

    Breasts are for feeding babies. If you don’t want to see it, look away.

  • Jay says:

    So if someone urinates on your shoes, and then promptly pulls out a can of disinfectant and sprays over the area, then that would be okay?

    Actually I’d be interested in hearing from a doctor if public urination would really be a general health hazard, or if it just might possibly be a health hazard in specific circumstances. Sure, there can be harmful bacteria in urine. There can be harmful bacteria in your breath. I don’t doubt that public health is a factor in why public urination is illegal. But suppose, for the sake of argument, that someone presented you with new medical evidence absolutely proving that it presented no greater overall health hazard than exhaling. Would you then say that it should be legal and socially acceptable?

    If next time your wife breast feeds in public I was to walk over and start ridiculing her for doing such a thing, with absolutely no explicit or implied threat of violence, just publicly tongue-lashing her for what I considered inappropriate behavior, would that be alright? After all, I have the right to say whatever I want, no? Or would you say that I was being rude?

  • Sonja says:

    Jay, even people in biblical times recognised the danger of urinating in public.

  • Fangbeer says:

    I don’t doubt that public health is a factor in why public urination is illegal. But suppose, for the sake of argument, that someone presented you with new medical evidence absolutely proving that it presented no greater overall health hazard than exhaling. Would you then say that it should be legal and socially acceptable?

    What purpose does answering this question serve? If I answer can I rebut with the questions: What if nipples were made of gummie bears? Would they still be considered vulgar?

    Or would you say that I was being rude?

    To bring this back on topic: Since when does Facebook ban rudeness? Have you noticed them to be overly concerned with whether people are acting polite? Do awkward feeling creating comments get deleted by the admins, or is generally accepted that it’s up to the users to moderate at that level?

  • ShyAsrai says:

    I really get tired of the peeing/pooping/whipping out your winkie comparisons to breastfeeding.

    Breast milk is NOT a bodily waste product – therefore right off the bat, there is no comparison.

    Anyway, as long as places like Hooters are considered a ‘family friendly’, it’s really, REALLY, asinine for people to be gobsmacked by the sight of a mother nourishing her child.

    This is just another manifestation of the old whore/madonna nonsense. I’ll be willing to bet my entire life’s income that the people who cherish naughty nipples on display in the “Girls Gone Wild” venues ,and defend the rights of naked boobers at mardi gras and spring break are the same ones who draw back in horror at the glimpse of a ‘good girl’s’ nipple.

    Grow UP, ffs.

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