Crime and Punishment of the Nipple

or How I was banned from Facebook

Crime and Punishment of the Nipple
offending nipple
The offending nipple. Image Copyright © 2015 Catherine Bell, All Rights Reserved.

I dared to defy nipple ‘community standards’ as imposed by Facebook:  The real ‘nipple nazi’.  Just as the famous Seinfeld ‘soup nazi’ denied those who ignored protocol, the ‘Facebook nipple nazi’ denies you.  I have been reprimanded and reminded of ‘my place’.  Facebook is a free ‘service’ after all, and one must be grateful for it.

My ‘crime’: Posting an image of myself and my newborn, with exposed breast (yes, just the one…dread to think what would happen with a double exposure!).

My ‘punishment’: removal of the offending image and a 24hr ban.

angry nipples!
No Nipples!
License: Creative Commons CC0.

And why was my image offensive?

It showed a nipple.

My baby in my arms, between my breasts, is unacceptable to the community standards (read the standard here, along with my first offence)…as she was not ‘actively breastfeeding’.


The standard reads:

facebook nudity policy - nipple offence
A ‘screen grab’ of the standard I breeched. License: Creative Commons CC0.

Of particular interest to me is the phrase” We restrict the display of nudity because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content – particularly because of their cultural background or age’

I take this to mean the ‘sensitive’ US culture that sexualises breasts, preferring to use them for advertising and entertainment rather than understand the biology of them.  Buttocks are fine – if covered by sexy underwear. Breast are fine, if covered by sexy underwear.

However, if the image is considered “educational, humorous or satirical”, nipples are acceptable.

So.  I am going to repost once the ban is lifted, with an educational version. This will not be difficult.  I will use it to highlight the benefits of skin to skin contact.  I can also use it to discuss baby-led attachment.

Or I could edit the image to look like a drawing or painting.

drawn version of the offending nipple
Drawn nipples are acceptable. Image Copyright © 2016 Catherine Bell, All Rights Reserved.

Or I could edit it to be humorous in some way…

or I could stop using Facebook.

Challenging (cultural) perceptions on the female nipple is about education.  Particularly in a ‘culture’ like the US, where breastfeeding is still considered a private activity and birthing women seem to always to have their breasts covered.  The LLL and ABA have been supporting women and providing education for OVER 50 years, and yet we still have this cultural attitude towards breastfeeding.

So why, despite all the education, are we in this predicament?  What is going wrong?

A few thoughts, comment if you have others:

1.  The education of LLL and ABA has primarily targeted ‘willing women’.  Those seeking to understand breastfeeding because they need to do it.  Whilst this is great, and very helpful for the willing, this ‘need to know’ approach to education does not allow those ‘on the fence’ the time they need to make an informed decision, and those that experience difficulties can feel like failures when they receive this support ‘too little and too late’.  And even for many willing women, the cultural perception of nipples needing to be hidden, can impact their breastfeeding  when faced with feeding in public.

2. The secondary education, targeting health professionals, is fleeting and limited.  It is there. It is available to all HPs.  But it is drowned out by the ‘official’ education, which does not support or encourage breastfeeding, but favours the interventions and control that a medical approach provides.  As long as HPs do not have the knowledge and skills to support breastfeeding, the cultural attitude will remain as it is.

3. Media stories are written to divide readers and perpetuate the ‘mommy war’ myth.  Click bait articles appeal to the extremes and serve to increase the cultural perception of nasty nipples.

4. School based education misses an opportunity to normalise breastfeeding by refusing to include it in the curriculum (it could be in science classes, health classes and childcare classes).  If it is mentioned it is discrete, and ‘balanced’ with the equalisation of formula feeding.  This is almost like teaching ‘creation’ in a science class in order to balance out evolution!

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