Friday, 11 October 2013

Why Does Facebook Hate Women's Nipples?

Proving that most of us do have breasts, even if we aren't
allowed to show them.
Breasts. Even their mention can get people flustered. I have a pair of my own. Most women do. This is evolution doing a wonderful thing. We have breasts so that when we have children, we can keep them alive. If we were a bird or some other non-mammal perhaps we'd be dropping insects into our children’s mouths, or perhaps regurgitating our food for them. But we don't. We have these clever things that secrete a perfect feeding formula directly into a child's mouth. Biology is wonderful.

Of course, very many men like breasts. Breasts indicate that if a man is lucky enough to mate with us and we fall pregnant, we will be able to keep his child alive. Evolution dictates that keeping children alive is good. So if you want to breed with a woman, make sure she has good breasts. But mostly in our society (and I'm talking the society I'm familiar with – the mainly white, first world, European-influenced world), it's all about nipples. At least, it seems to be. You can post a photograph on Facebook with practically all the breast except the nipple and areola exposed, and that's fine – unless it's obscured by a baby's mouth, and then that's not fine.

Two naked male chests that I'm very fond of. Not just an excuse
to get Peter Graves and Spock on this blog. Not at all.
The funny thing is that men have these things too, and that is fine. I don't know what would happen if you posted a photograph on Facebook of a man with a baby's mouth over his nipple, but I imagine that would be a-ok. But I dare say most hetrosexual women will find a picture of a man's bare chest just as alluring as most hetrosexual men will the woman's. I dare say that a lot of hetrosexual men would find a picture of a provocatively dressed woman with her nipples covered just as arousing, or more so, than a picture of bare breasts.

There are so many issues here. The way that essentially male morals still run the world, no matter how loud the voice of woman becomes. The way that it's acceptable for women to be sexualised, and controlled by the perception of their sexuality, in a way that men would never accept for their own gender. The way that the function of breasts in Western society has been completely subverted from their actual purpose – to feed infants – into a kind of flag to inflame male desire.

My own breastfeeding photo. No problems on my Facebook
account with it, luckily. I must have good friends.
I have to admit that I'm not the queen of breastfeeding. I didn't battle through all ills and pain in order to nurture my children with the pure milk of my breast. Oscar pretty much flat refused to feed. George developed an allergy to milk very early on. Ben – well, by the time Ben came along it was obvious to me that you could raise healthy, intelligent, well-attached, and happy children without breast milk, so he got his first few weeks and then I elected to go back on the anti-depressants that keep me (moderately) sane, and we went with all of the benefits of bottle feeding. And there are benefits, believe me, especially where my sanity is concerned.

But I do believe in breastfeeding. I believe it's wrong to profit by getting Third World mothers to bottle feed, exposing their children to all of the perils of poor or no sterilisation, to a lack of protection from the antibodies in their mothers' milk when they have poor or no access to medical help, and to privation caused by their parents' small resources being spent on formula feed. I believe that it is heinous to do this purely so that companies like Nestlé can sit back on their profits. I believe it's wrong that the default setting in every doll's set is the dummy, the disposable nappy, and the baby bottle and that we seem to have forgotten that humans are, in fact, equipped with the resources to feed their babies.

Most of all, and here I come to the point of this post, I think that Facebook is wrong. I love what I get from Facebook. Since I find phone calls and face-to-face talking very difficult almost all my friendships are upheld there and I dearly miss friends who have left. But Facebook, it seems, hates breastfeeding. I have heard so many stories of photographs of breastfeeding mothers being taken down from its pages – not even public, shared pages, but private pages that are only shared with people's friends. Conversely I have reported so many public comments suggesting things like 'all Muslims should be exported,' 'all Muslim men should be killed,' and other such lovely sentiments, and this, it seems, doesn't come under their heading of 'hate speech' and is allowed to remain.
'Emma' by  Lies Thru a Lens  on Flickr. I have no problem
 with this photo, but it's odd that Facebook would be far
happier with an image like this than a woman breastfeeding.

There is something wrong with Facebook's policies if it believes that a picture of a woman's breasts is more worthy of censor than a comment advocating genocide and racism. There's something wrong with Facebook's policies if it thinks that a picture of a woman breastfeeding her child should be hidden while a picture of a woman bottle-feeding her child is fine; when you can post pictures of animal cruelty, murder, and dead bodies without issue; when a picture of an oil-sheened woman bending over in the smallest of bikinis is considered less offensive than a child drinking milk.

I don't know who Facebook are trying to appease, but I don't want to be part of that demographic, and I wish their censors felt the same.

1 comment:

  1. So, I stumbled upon this blog article after googling "Why does everyone hate nipples?", specifically in response to a picture I had shared (of a man's nipple and a blurred nipple side by side) that mysteriously disappeared. I see that this was written almost half a year ago, and I'm afraid Facebook still hates women's nipples. I really appreciate this article, but I find that I still cannot personally understand Facebook (or society's) discriminatory views of nipples based on a person's gender. At least I feel reassured that I am not the only one questioning these rather contradictory rules. :)