Facebook/Breastfeeding Part 3: Revenge of the Facebook TOS

I didn’t intend to do another Facebook/Breastfeeding post so soon, but a new wrinkle in the whole controversy just occurred. Facebook recently changed their Terms of Service. Previously, they claimed rights to use your content as they see fit, but you could terminate those rights by having your account deleted.  Now, not only can they use your content if your account is closed or deleted, but they can sublicense your content as well.

How does this impact the Facebook/Breastfeeding controversy?  Well, suppose a mother uploads a photo of herself breastfeeding.  Facebook, regarding this content as sexually explicit, deletes the account.  However, Facebook retains rights to all content uploaded, including the breastfeeding photo.  Facebook can now sell that photo to a stock photo agency who can sell it to someone else to be used in an ad campaign.  This mother might find her nursing photo being used to advertise baby formula.  Imagine the outrage the mother would feel to see herself in the ad with the tag line "It’s just as good as mother’s milk."

What would the mother’s options be?  Pretty limited.  She could try to sue Facebook, but she likely wouldn’t get very far.  You see, that same Terms of Service also states that you’re agreeing to Mandatory Arbitration.  In short, she will have to travel to a state that the company chooses, face an arbitrator chosen by the company, who likely rules in favor of the company over 90% of the time, won’t be able to subpeona any documents from the company, won’t be able to appeal any decisions to a real court, and – even if by some quirk she wins – won’t have any legal teeth to get any money from the company.  In other words, Facebook has all but declared themselves the winner if you decide you want to challenge them legally.

This might solve the "Breastfeeding Photos on Facebook" controversy, but not in the expected way.  I don’t know why anyone (especially breastfeeding mothers) would want to upload photos to Facebook knowing that those photos could be sold by Facebook to some other company for any possible use without any compensation or recourse given to the user.  Perhaps it is time for another social network, one with better Terms of Service and better operating practices, to rise up and displace Facebook.

A Facebook/Breastfeeding Controversy Followup

Last week, I was watching a program on The History Channel titled History of Sex. Just before and after each commercial break, they would have a little quote. I immediately hit pause at one of them as I just had to write this down:

Victorians used the term “limbs” as a euphemism for legs, which were thought to be so sexually exciting to a man, even a glimpse of a table leg could incite him to sexual frenzy. Table skirts were invented to prevent any unnatural unions between men and furniture.

I immediately thought of something I had written in my The Facebook/Breastfeeding Controversy: A Dad’s Perspective post:

Society seems to dictate that the breast should be hidden away (even in instances of breastfeeding) because it is a sexual object. This is a self-fulfilling statement, however. It is mainly a sexual object *BECAUSE* it is hidden away. Go back a century or two to when women wouldn’t be seen outside showing any ankle and ask people of that time why they thought a bared female ankle shouldn’t be seen. I guarantee that the response would have been that the female ankle is sexually alluring and thus should be hidden away. When ankles became common to see, legs became the alluring object. When legs revealed themselves, the belly gained prominence. As each body part showed up more and more in public life, it lost being seen solely as a sexual lure. If women were to commonly walk around topless, the breast would lose much (if not all) of it’s role as a sexual lure. Yes, there would be an increase in teenaged boys drooling on street corners in the short term, but after awhile, society would move on.

Here was some historical proof of my theory. Back during the Victorian era, people thought that men couldn’t handle the mere sight of a female leg. In fact, female legs were thought to be such a strong sexual turn-on that a table’s leg would place a man into a state of “sexual frenzy” merely due to the passing resemblance they have to a female’s leg. Today, however, you can see women’s legs everywhere from business offices to the beach. From malls to markets. These women aren’t leaving a trail of frenzied men in their wake. Society has moved on.

Yes, the female leg is still seen by men today as a sexual attractant, but it is no longer “forbidden fruit.” You don’t see men’s magazines named “Thigh” showing bare legs. Men simply do not go into an uncontrollable frenzy on the mere sight of a bare leg. If women walked around commonly without any tops on, the female breast would become another “woman’s leg.” It would lose its “forbidden fruit” aspect. While it would remain a sexual attractant to some degree, it wouldn’t be the sort of thing that makes men drool like idiots.

The Facebook/Breastfeeding Controversy: A Dad’s Perspective

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a controversy brewing about Facebook deleting photos of breastfeeding mothers.  The controversy stretches back almost 1 1/2 years ago.  Kelli Roman posted some photos of herself breastfeeding her child.  Those photos were deleted by Facebook because they claimed that nipples and/or areola could be seen.  In other words, they regarded all bare breast photos as sexual in nature even if a baby was attached to the breast.

There has been a lot written on the subject from the perspective of moms (either ones who have nursed or who are nursing).  To list a few:

I haven’t read much from the Dad point of view, so I thought I’d give mine.  My first attempts to write up my thoughts resulted in a rambling post.  Upon reflection, I realized that is because this subject touches on a number of subjects.  Therefore, I’m going to break this issue down into into four separate sections: The Sexuality Of The Female Breast, How Much Breast Is Too Much, Context In Content Blocking, and The Morality Of Breastfeeding In Public.

I. The Sexuality Of The Female Breast

Many of the comments I’ve read about the female breast seem to take one of two extremes.  On one side, the commenter (usually a woman) declares that the female breast’s only purpose is nursing.  On the other side, the commenter (usually a man) declares that the female breast is all sex-object and nothing else.  Sometimes, they will grant it a temporary stay for nursing purposes, but only if the breast is hidden away from view.  Neither of these are my entire view.  While, I, like most men, find a woman’s breast to be a sexual turn-on, I also realize that the female breast is designed to be more than mere eye candy decoration.  It is also dedicated to feeding infants.  I have no problem with body parts having dual roles.  A woman’s vagina has a sexual role and is quite instrumental in childbirth.  A male’s penis has both a sexual role and a waste disposal role.

In addition, the mere display of a body part isn’t enough to judge whether it is sexual or not.  The display of a breast in the course of showing women how to check for breast cancer should not be considered sexual.  The display of a female breast during a demonstration of proper bra fitting would not be sexual in nature either.  Thus, a photo of a woman’s breast is not necessarily a sexual image.

Society seems to dictate that the breast should be hidden away (even in instances of breastfeeding) because it is a sexual object.  This is a self-fulfilling statement, however.  It is mainly a sexual object *BECAUSE* it is hidden away.  Go back a century or two to when women wouldn’t be seen outside showing any ankle and ask people of that time why they thought a bared female ankle shouldn’t be seen.  I guarantee that the response would have been that the female ankle is sexually alluring and thus should be hidden away.  When ankles became common to see, legs became the alluring object.  When legs revealed themselves, the belly gained prominence.  As each body part showed up more and more in public life, it lost being seen solely as a sexual lure.  If women were to commonly walk around topless, the breast would lose much (if not all) of it’s role as a sexual lure.  Yes, there would be an increase in teenaged boys drooling on street corners in the short term, but after awhile, society would move on.

II. How Much Breast Is Too Much?

The crux of the matter, as far as Facebook is concerned, is whether the nipple and/or areola were shown.  But why those parts?  What is it about that area that turns an otherwise TV-worthy breast into an object to be shunned away?  Why is a woman in a barely-there bikini perfectly ok, but a slight hint of nipple/areola not?  And it’s not just a nipple/areola, but a female nipple/areola.  As a man, nobody would bat an eyelash if I posted topless photos of myself.  But show a female’s nipple/areola and a firestorm erupts.

This isn’t just limited to Facebook, but is a problem nation-wide.  WItness two incidents.  In 1999, Lil’ Kim showed up to the VMA music awards in an outfit that exposed her entire left breast, save for a piece of fabric that covered her nipple/areola. While this provided fodder for some late night comedians and some hushed whispers from some folks, it passed by without sparking a major incident.  The incident wasn’t even shown live so plenty of opportunity for censoring her exposed breast.

Flash forward to 2004.  Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson are finishing their halftime routine during the Super Bowl.  Justin reaches over and rips away part of Janet’s wardrobe which "malfunctions" and shows her nipple/areola.  As could be predicted, a huge firestorm of protest erupted calling for fines and investigations.  The amount of time between the revealed nipple/areola and Janet covering herself up? 9/16 of a second.  Yes, apparently, the female nipple and areola is so powerful that barely over half of a second of viewing it causes immeasurable harm to people.

I’m guessing that the people who protest the showing of nipples and areolas (for any purpose) think that any exhibition of those pieces of skin have latent sexual meanings.  However, ask your average guy and they’ll tell you that they aren’t turned on merely by a nipple, but by the entire breast.  If anything, Lil’ Kim’s wardrobe choice had more sexual potential than Janet’s minimal exposure.

Time had an interesting observation in their article Facebook’s War on Nipples.  They noted that Thomas Beatie, the woman who had a sex change operation, became a man, and then became pregnant, was allowed to show his (formerly her) nipples were perfectly fine to show on Facebook (not to mention in magazines and book covers).  This despite the fact that he still had female sex organs and was still able to deliver a baby.

Just like the presence of a breast doesn’t indicate that the image is sexual in nature, the mere existence of a female nipple/areola doesn’t mean that the photo is sexual in nature.  This leads to the next section.

III. Context In Content Blocking

I’m not a big fan of content blocking.  All too often, valid content will be swept up with the "undesireable" content and blocked.  Blocking all instances of the word "breast" for example, would block not only descriptions of sex acts involving breasts, but medical articles on breast cancer, and recipes involving chicken breasts.  Similarly, blocking all images involving a full female breast (even where "full" is defined as "showing the nipple or areola") will not only block photos that are sexual in nature, but also photos of breastfeeding mothers, medical instruction pamphlets, and artistic images that are not obscene.  Clearly, Facebook is applying their policy too rigidly and needs to consider the context behind the bared breast.

IV. The Morality Of Breastfeeding In Public

This is actually a side issue in some ways as Facebook does not appear to intend to comment on the appropriateness of breastfeeding in public.  However, the issue rising is inevitable given that breastfeeding photos are being banned.  Breastfeeding is regarded as the best feeding method for infants by nearly all medical professionals.

As long as a woman breastfeeds, she will encounter situations where her child is hungry while in a public place.  I’ve heard suggestions that women should just feed the kid prior to going out or leave the kid home.  Both of these suggestions ignore the reality of having children, however.  Infants need to feed every 2 or 3 hours.  So you could easily feed your child before you head out and still get caught in public needing to nurse.  As for leaving your child at home, this assumes that you have someone to watch your child.  Many people don’t have this luxury and leaving your infant home alone for a few hours is a sure way to get a visit from Child Protective Services.  (Rightfully so.)

So what are a breastfeeding mother’s options should she be caught out when her child needs feeding?  One option is to pump milk ahead of time.  The problem with this is that it requires advance planning that might not be available.  In addition, it imposes a "breast pump tax" on nursing mothers who want to go out in public.  This only leaves the option of a mother nursing her child in public.

I have heard some ridiculous assertions from the anti-public-breastfeeding crowd.  Everything from equating breastfeeding with public smoking (come back to me when breastmilk routinely squirts across the room and is somehow tied to cancer), claiming that the women just take off their shirts in public (I have yet to hear of one breastfeeding mother who takes off her entire shirt/bra in a public place to breastfeed), to even a statement that breastfeeding mother "getting their jollies" by nursing their kids (Oh, so my wife’s yelps when our sons bit down weren’t cries of pain… good to know).

The more reasonable (relatively speaking) people who oppose breastfeeding in public state that it isn’t something they want to see.  They would prefer that the woman take her child into the restroom to breastfeed or, failing that, nurse under her shirt.  There are problems with those suggestions, however.  Restrooms are dirty.  I don’t care how often the cleaning crew goes through there, they are inherently dirty.  I know I wouldn’t want to eat a meal sitting in a restroom stall.  Why should an infant eat his/her meal there?  As for "nursing under the shirt," this is impractical too.  There likely would not be enough room under a woman’s shirt to cram the infant’s head.  Either the woman’s shirt would rip or the infant would suffocate.  Neither of these is very desirable.

There’s a simple option available to the people who are uncomfortable seeing a woman nursing, however.  Don’t look.  Nobody is forcing these people to look at a woman breastfeeding.  Merely stating that you don’t like seeing something isn’t a reason to hide it.  I, for example, don’t like seeing people wearing skin-tight clothes.  It just doesn’t look attractive to me.  However, I’m not about to tell them how to dress.  They’re free to wear clothes as loose or as tight as they want.  I’ll just look the other way.  If someone doesn’t like the sight of a woman breastfeeding, that’s perfectly fine.  Just don’t look.

In the end, I think that Facebook needs to revise their policy to take into account the context behind the bared breast.  Yes, some bare breast photos will be sexual in nature.  Facebook wouldn’t get any argument from me if they blocked those.  Not that I have anything against sexual images, but if it is their policy to block sexual images, that’s what you need to work within.  A photo of a woman breastfeeding is not sexual in nature and so shouldn’t be removed.

Happy Blogoversary To Me!

Today marks one year since I started blogging at TechyDad.com. So much has happened during that time. I’ve travelled to Charleston, South Carolina to see my best friend since Junior High School get married. I’ve vacationed with my family (and in-laws) in Walt Disney World for a week. (I still plan on finishing that series of posts up.)

I’ve had high moments (celebrating my 8th wedding anniversary) and low moments (An extremely scary weekend; Jacob’s febrile seizure where we thought he was choking to death). I’ve cooked a bit, taken TONS of photographs, and found interesting freeware. We’ve seen dinosaurs come alive at Walking with Dinosaurs then had JSL *become* a dinosaur! Meanwhile, NHL was nearly eaten by one as we went indoor mini-golfing.

I’ve posted about copyright, censorship, and working out. We confronted behavior issues with NHL, identified Singulair as the cause, and celebrated the return of the son we knew and loved.

In short, a lot has happened in just one short year. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings! To celebrate, TechyDad.com has a brand new look. I hope you like it and stick with me as the adventure continues in the coming year!

Happy Blogoversary To Me!

This week in Tweets

  • Ok, this game was really cool. Can you make it to the end? http://tinyurl.com/8bxawj #
  • I feel left out. No Phishing DMs sent my way. Either I’m unpopular with phishers (possible) or I just happen to follow some smart folks. 😉 #
  • Bed time. Weekend is over already. Why can’t we have 5 day weekends and 2 day work weeks? #
  • Ants are back. Worse than before. They’re all over my office floor including where I sit. They’re in my co-worker’s office. #
  • I called housekeeping 20 min ago and no response so far. We’ll see how long it takes them. If it gets to 1 hr, I’m going to call back. #
  • *Great* start to day. 1st ice everywhere. Almost slipped & fell. Next, ants. Then computer logged off & I lost FF session/all my open tabs. #
  • Office vacuumed. That should keep the ants at bay for a little while. No doubt there are ant-reinforcements waiting to march in, though. #
  • Ok, I needed a laugh. Thanks Stone Soup!!! http://www.gocomics.com/stonesoup/2009/01/05 #
  • Interesting. I tried to purposefully go to the fake twitter login page (just to see it). Site Advisor blocked it for being a phishing page. #
  • Then, when I bypassed Site Advisor, my office’s web filter blocked it as a phishing site. (Duh!) Nice job by both Site Advisor & Websense. #
  • Twitter Phishers coming from China? Access-Logins.com (the phishy domain name) is registered to zhang xiaohu in Hunan, CN. #
  • More evidence. His e-mail is listed as a “126.com” address. That domain name is registered to “Netease.com, Inc.” in Guangzhou, Guangdong CN #
  • Whois Record for Access-Logins.com: http://tinyurl.com/7kzzd4 For 126.com http://whois.domaintools.com/126.com #
  • Still laughing at this. http://twitpic.com/zwj9 #
  • Felt creepy-crawly. Checked the floor. Ants are back! Time to call housekeeping! #
  • Is thinking that, since @stkulp is home today. I should really move into her office for the day to get away from the ants. #
  • RT @onezenmom: Just in case you live under a rock and haven’t heard about the Twitter Phishing scam: http://preview.tinyurl.com/9rmfy6 #
  • Banana bread muffins in the oven. #
  • Banana Bread Muffins are done. Putting them away and then it’s WiiFit time! #
  • My WiiFit age is…. 24!!! I rocked those tests. I’m a whole 9 years younger. 🙂 #
  • Taking a couple minute break in my workout. Up to 41 minutes, but my legs felt like jelly on that last one. #
  • Not only am I working out, but I’m gathering data for a WiiFit web app. #
  • Did 47 mins of workouts. I’m going to put away the WiiFit & yoga mat & then head to bed. If my legs will carry me. Maybe I can crawl there. #
  • Body doesn’t want to move this morning. Could I have overdone my workout? [bugs_bunny]mmmmm…… Could be.[/bugs_bunny] #
  • Another morning spent huddled over my space heater to warm up. Turning the AC full-blast keeps the ants under control it seems. #
  • What a choice: freeze myself or be overrun with ants. #
  • Awful law to be passed in New Zealand. If you’re accused of copyright infringement/sharing files, your Internet is disconnected. #
  • Not proven in a court of law, accused. And there’s no appeals process either. #
  • I hereby accuse everyone in New Zealand of mass copyright infringement. #
  • Interesting. Found out that a co-worker might have Jewish ancestry. Her great-grandfather’s name was Mordechai. #
  • Ugh. Gmail won’t load for some reason. #
  • Yum! Banana Bread Muffins came out great! #
  • Anyone have any Must-Read articles I could show someone who isn’t up to speed on the Facebook-breastfeeding controversy? #
  • Thinking that I’ll need some extra SD cards for the Disney World trip. Might order a few from NewEgg.com tonight. #
  • Man, this game is just soooo challenging. http://www.mazapan.se/games/BurnTheRope.php 😉 #
  • Searching for how to rinse lentils. Making Sweet Potato & Lentil Stew for tomorrow night’s dinner. #
  • Anyone know of any good articles on the Facebook/Breastfeeding controversy? #
  • Working on a blog post about it and I wanted to link to some other articles on the subject. #
  • Found this while looking for breastfeeding photos that Facebook banned: http://is.gd/e8EP None look indecent or sexual in any way to me. #
  • Goodnight. Need some sleep to recharge and refocus my mind. (Here’s a hint: Never try to write a blog post while exhausted! 😉 ) #
  • Got into work ok. Saved some URLs in my draft post as refreshing would surely trigger work’s filter. Breastfeeding pics considered NSFW. #
  • The Ant-Slayer is here. Of course, with the freeze-out, I haven’t seen a single ant today. #
  • Is wondering how much Verizon charges for mobile web use. Probably more than Disney does for Internet use. #
  • To answer my own question on Verizon Wireless mobile web use, it’s billed by the MB, rounded up, at $1.99/MB #
  • A day of Disney World Internet costs $10. That’s 5MB of Verizon Wireless Internet usage. We could easily hit that. #
  • Plus, our cell phone would be tough to use for browsing. (Not a smartphone, just a LG 8350.) #
  • Need to find out whether we could get Disney Internet for some days and not others. #
  • Asked the office’s Resident Disney Expert and you *can* turn on Disney World Internet Access for some days & not others. #
  • Going to test wife’s camera’s batteries w/ a voltage meter at work tomorrow. Are batteries are really drained or is camera’s sensor wrong? #
  • I like big butts & I cannot lie. All you other brothers can’t deny. They’re healthy! … Wait, that’s not how it goes? http://is.gd/eLJI #
  • Working on my Facebook/Breastfeeding controversy post. My problem now isn’t rambling, but that I have a lot to cover. The post is too long. #
  • Think I’m going to break it up into parts. #
  • Ok, you know the country is in trouble when the Porn Industry needs a federal bailout: http://is.gd/eNPf #
  • Rethought breaking up the article. Going back to single article format. Almost done with it too. #
  • FF went back a page & I lost some of my Facebook/Breastfeeding post. Retyped it & almost done now. #
  • Think I’m going to turn in rather than complete it now, however. Getting really tired and hard to think straight. Night all! #
  • Morning all! Ant-Slayer was her yesterday, put down ant-bait, so of course tons of ants greeted me this morning. #
  • RT @TheDisneyBlog: The cast of Disney ABC’s Pushing Daisies is on Twitter – http://is.gd/eRHn – Is it too late to save the show? #
  • Trying to shake off sleepiness and get some work done. #
  • SQL Server is down here which means much of my development work can’t be done. ARGH! #
  • 121 days until Disney World, 121 days. You take one down, pass it around…. #
  • RT @OwenC: Looks like Twitter had a “Delivery Delay” glitch they fixed yesterday: http://status.twitter.com/ Still seems whaled to me #
  • Calling all Pushing Daisies Tweeters! Tweet @abcinnercircle “Please bring back Pushing Daisies” #pushingdaisies #
  • Update: Calling all Pushing Daisies Fans! Tweet “@abcinnercircle Please bring back Pushing Daisies #pushingdaisies” (leave out the quotes) #
  • Finally finished my Facebook/Breastfeeding Controversy: A Dad’s Perspective post: http://www.techydad.com/?p=286 #
  • Forgot to work out last night thanks to writing my blog post ( http://www.techydad.com/?p=286 ). Got to make it up today w/ a 45min workout. #
  • WiiFit Workout done. 45 minutes of exercise goodness partially interrupted by JSL waking up. #
  • Rumbling tummy is insisting on a midnight snack, but I’m going to ignore it & instead drink some water before headed to bed. Goodnight all! #
  • QOTD: “We have to do it in the Facebook, with the Twittering, the different technology that young people are using today.” http://is.gd/eHWN #
  • Have you read “The Facebook/Breastfeeding Controversy: A Dad’s Perspective” yet? http://www.techydad.com/?p=286 #
  • Facebook’s Code Of Conduct ( http://is.gd/eZdL ): “you may not post or share Content that is … obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit” #
  • Breastfeeding isn’t obscene. It isn’t pornographic & it certainly isn’t sexually explicit. #
  • Some “barely there” bikinis show more breast than breastfeeding pics do. #
  • Can hardly keep my eyes open today. Freezing cold in my office & being huddled over the space heater isn’t helping. #
  • Is wondering if anyone would notice if I dozed off for a bit. My office door is closed thanks to the AC & I’m way in the back. #
  • Brother-in-law visiting & asked us to bring the Wii/WiiFit to my in-law’s house. Haven’t transported it before. Any Wii Transport tips? #
  • TweetBack plugin for WordPress looks interesting. I might just try it out http://is.gd/eY1S #
  • Wonder how automated Facebook’s banning procedures are. If I marked a scenery or topless guy photo as obscene would it be taken down? #
  • Is there any way to change what website Twhirl opens hash tags in? HashTags.org keeps giving 503 Service unavailable. #
  • Man did I overeat today. Why is it when I go to my in-laws’ house I lose all willpower? (Not their fault, mind you.) #
  • Definitely going to need my WiiFit workout tonight #
  • The WiiFit Plank is so not worth it. I spend 30 tortuous seconds doing it & only get 1 WiiFit minute credit? #
  • Ok, I know it was only a half minute workout but still it’s a tough one. #
  • WiiFit workout done. 47 minutes put in. Now to burn a photo-CD for my BIL & SIL. Oh yeah. And go to bed sometime before 1am. #

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