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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I wonder what FB will make of this....

This morning I woke up before Mira again (WHY OH WHY?) and was using the time to catch up on some of my blog reading. I read this one about Facebook removing breastfeeding artwork, labeling it "obscene". A quote from the article:

“the treatment of my breastfeeding subject matter by facebook is indicative of the very high expectations that society holds for mothers. Mothers are expected to breastfeed, every health organization tells us it’s the best choice, yet images of women breastfeeding are treated with hostility and distain. Women are treated badly when breastfeeding in public. The result is an impossible ideal of motherhood that no mother could possibly meet.”

I've known for some time about FB's appalling policy on breastfeeding photos, and I've honestly considered several times boycotting FB because of it. I was very lucky that breastfeeding came naturally and easily for Mira and me, but so very many women are not so fortunate. For those ladies, breastfeeding is a physical, mental, and emotional struggle full of frustration, self-doubt, and heartache. For many, it's a fight that can not be won. For many more, it's a fight that could be endured with the right support. Part of getting the right support for these women is helping them to feel welcome to feed their babies in public. There is a pervasive and destructive attitude held by some that breastfeeding is something that need be done privately. Perhaps people feel this way because they see breastfeeding as gross or somehow sexual in nature. Whatever their reasoning, the idea is ill-founded and detrimental. But it is an idea that FB is propagating by declaring breastfeeding photos and, now, artworks to be obscene material.

So anyway, the blog post I mentioned earlier got me thinking... The article was about artworks featuring breastfeeding mothers in a fashion similar to the Renaissance portrayals of Mary feeding the baby Jesus. So now I'm wondering if FB would declare images of those historical paintings to be obscene. To test this theory, I've posted a set of images on my FB account:

"The Virgin Mary Nursing her Child" by Hans Memling:

"The Madonna and Child" by Leonardo da Vinci:

"La Madonna del Cuscino Verde" by Andrea Solario:

I guess we'll see what FB decides to make of these. It seems to me like it would be hypocritical of them to have banned the artwork shown in the blog post above but not ban these images. But if FB does ban these images, they might be backing themselves into a corner that they don't want to be in. If there are quite a few of us who are upset that Jane Doe from Iowa can't post her breastfeeding photos, then I imagine that many many more people would be upset about these particular images of the Virgin Mary being labeled "obscene".

I think this particular avenue might just be more personally rewarding than boycotting. ;-) I'll keep you posted on any response taken by FB.


jkray622 said...

I was under the impression that FB's policy was that breastfeeding pictures are acceptable, as long as the other breast (the one not being nommed) is covered. All of those images you posted should be fine.

Laura said...

The first painting in the blog post I linked to is of a woman wearing a bra, with only one side open to feed. But that image was banned. So I'm not sure that you are correct. Or if you are, then they're not even following their own policies, which is possible.

Laura said...

Additionally, the site listed below has a collection of photos that have been banned by FB. You can see that some of them do show complete uncovered breasts, but many show hardly any skin at all.

Marcy said...

jkray622-- Here's a quote I found from a Facebook spokesperson on their policy: "Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said the company's guidelines regarding exposed flesh allow most breast-feeding photos. However, Facebook draws the line at a visible nipple or areola, he said. Facebook also nixes pictures showing the gluteal cleft."

However I have also heard of breastfeeding pictures that hardly showed any flesh at all, let alone a nipple, being banned (I just looked at the link Laura posted in her comment, lots of those pictures hardly show anything questionable at all).

Laura-- My understanding of how it works is Facebook doesn't go looking for pictures to ban, but relies on people flagging the pictures as obscene content and *then* they look at the content and decide whether to take it down or not. So if your facebook friends are open-minded and pro-breastfeeding, the pictures might not get much attention since someone will need to flag them as inappropriate for FB to look at them (I think)... though that's another "test" to do which might be interesting (to flag them yourself or ask someone to do so, to see what Fb then does with them).

Laura said...

Marcy- Thanks for the info. I had heard that vast majority of FB's decisions to remove photos initiate from someone lodging a complaint. So I logged in under my alternative email and reported all 3 images as being a "violation of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities." Supposedly now FB will review the images for any abusive content, according to the FB page I was sent to following submission of the report.