Once again, the Facebook furore surrounding breastfeeding has grabbed media attention.
Everyone is weighing in. I wasn't convinced I needed to.
But then I read a few comments on FB which got me thinking.
So much talk about how people supported breastfeeding but couldn't we all just be a bit more modest, a little more discreet?
This put me in mind of that old homophobic chestnut, "I don't care what you do in the privacy of your bedroom, just don't do it in my face."
Translation: I accept you but on my terms and only if you meet my conditions.
Hmmm, with due respect, FUCK THAT.
You can check out the offending photo causing all the current drama here.
It seems clear to me that this photo was posted to illicit a reaction. And if this is true, it's been enormously successful.
Do I have a personal opinion? Well, it solidifies for me why I never expressed and nursed at the same time. That looks like a bitch to do!
Would I ever post a photo like that on Facebook? No – but only because I'm deeply vain and I don't think expressing is my best look.
I wouldn't put a film of myself giving birth (explicit or otherwise) on YouTube either but I am eternally grateful to the women who do because I have watched so very many of them and been completely inspired.
Breastfeeding is STILL an issue. Will photos like this one, which serve to confront and can ultimately, polarize, bring about the necessary change? No, not solely. But in the same way that I wondered whether Slut Walk was the right avenue for bringing about change in society's antiquated views about how women choose to dress, I so admire that someone is doing something to reignite a dialogue.
A drop in the ocean is still a drop more than we had before. And sometimes we need to push the boundaries in order to get the conversation started.
People disagreeing on Facebook may seem an ineffective method for change but consider this. The people who tend to comment are those who have strong views one way or another. Watching those two parties go at eachother may seem as bloody and pointless as a dogfight. But what about all those people who sit somewhere in the middle, unsure about how they feel? There are people who would never comment who have gone away THINKING about the issue and weighing up the arguments.
We have no real way to measure the real impact of this kind of protest. And agitating may seem detrimental, overkill or offensive to many. But every fight that has been won in the past has involved a little bloodshed.
I have personally never been subjected to so much as a dirty look while breastfeeding. But it's clear many women have and continue to be. While ever this is the case, the fight must go on.
And Facebook's policy is ridiculous, no doubt. But the greater worry is that FB intervenes predominantly on the strength of someone "reporting" a photo as offensive – and when it comes to breastfeeding pictures, it seems people are reporting their little hearts (and even littler minds) out.
This indicates that we are still a society who can not cope with the female form being de-sexualised. Feeding a baby as nature intended confronts people in a way that a half naked model never would. Somehow, when a woman uses her breasts for feeding or her vagina for birthing, people are repulsed.
I'm not okay with that and I support those women attempting to change this disturbing and deeply entrenched view of the female body. Whether their methods are sound or not probably isn't the point. I'm sure people thought burning bras was the height of ridiculousness back in the day. And now? We speak of those women in reverent tones. How cool were they?
I'll finish by quoting something from the Australian Breastfeeding Association's recent media statement:
‘The publication of images of mothers breastfeeding their babies is critical to the process of normalising breastfeeding in our culture. As the leading breastfeeding authority in Australia, we consider it is important to work with publishers, media organisations across all formats — online, print and television — to promote the image of breastfeeding as normal and natural for human babies’
Amen to that.