There is a problem in our American culture, and it stems from our backwards definitions of obscenity and modesty.
We have decided that all depictions of nipples, in public or in the media, are sexual, inappropriate, demoralizing, anti-Family, unChristian, take your pick, SO LONG AS THEY ARE WOMEN'S NIPPLES.
We have decided that all depictions of women (or even teenaged girls) in their underwear, short skirts, bikinis, high heals, thongs, or other articles that do not expose the actual nipple are free speech, artistic license, not obscene, suitable for a dress to prom, appropriate for an internet advertisement, likely to be seen in a supermarket checkout line, unlikely to be flagged and removed as a profile photo on social networking websites.
This is a magazine cover, totally appropriate, and similar to underwear advertisements you can find in your weekday newspaper or as someone's profile picture on Facebook.
good friend and fellow blogger had flagged and removed from Facebook. Very little flesh, not a sexual context, but for that specific areola exposition, her picture violates policy and is removed.
Facebook recently stated that "it has no problem with breastfeeding, but that photos showing nipples are deemed to be a violation and can be removed. It has said that the photos flagged for removal were brought to the company’s attention almost exclusively by user complaints." (source link).
So here we have a picture of a mother feeding her infant that does NOT fall under Facebook's definition of nudity, and must have been reported by one of her own friends to be removed.
But this one is okay, because her nipples are CLEARLY NOT VISIBLE.
We are supposed to be comfortable and tolerant of sexual photos so long as there is no nipple, but somehow that tiny piece of non-reproductive flesh means that we should be outraged over a mother feeding her child. A baby's MOUTH IS ON A NIPPLE. NIPPLES ARE NUDITY.
It's not because the male areola and nipple can't be fun during sex. They can very much be erogenous zones. It's not because a baby breastfeeding is a sexual act. Only perverts would find that sexually arousing.
The only explanation I can come up with is that women are supposed to be the playthings of men, and when our bodies are used for someone else, we defy our place as the secondary sex. The lovely aura of the female figure loses its sensual appeal when an infant is suckling one of the key topographical features of the curvy landscape. The breasts themselves are trapped in the Madonna/Whore dichotomy - they are erotic toys in the bedroom, and they are sacred vessels in the nursery. The male nipple is just flesh. The female nipple is either dirty or holy.
It is not okay for our anti-child and anti-mother society to corner us or herd us into bathrooms where people defecate. It is not okay for the uber-feminists to keep insisting that breastfeeding reduces us to animals, cages us in prisons, reduces our economic value, diminishes our contributions to society. It is not okay to take the breasts that keep my infant healthy and alive and drop them into two extreme categories and demand that I choose them. It is not okay for Facebook to say my nipple makes me obscene while a naked woman gagged and bound over a barrel while another woman inserts items into her backside is okay because there is not nipple, no labia, no butt-crack. Yeah - it's there. I chose not to post it here.
For men to have a freedom I do not have, when my nipples are so much more important for a tiny baby, is sexist, and Facebook's refusal to differentiate between sexual content and a breastfeeding mother for the sake of convenience perpetuates the social myth of the uncovered breastfeeding mother as offensive and corrupting.
Meanwhile, according to the CDC, 3 out of 4 mothers start out breastfeeding their newborns, but less than half are still breastfeeding at 6 months and a mere 22% are breastfeeding at 12 months, even though the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding at least one year, preferably two years. Ample research shows the benefits of breastfeeding, coupled with ample social pressure to NOT breastfeed, to NOT burden one's employer by pumping at work, to NOT burden other patrons by breastfeeding in a restaurant, to NOT let breastfeeding shackle one to one's infant.
We are breaking free of puritanical values by posing in lingerie in magazines and performing concerts in masking tape and dressing up at Halloween in the shortest skirts and low-cut spandex. We don't do this for men, we do this for ourselves, right? To feel sexy for ourselves? Really? That is our freedom? But we are still not free to breastfeed uncovered on Facebook.
We are free to be sexual beings but not nurturing ones.