Monday, 5 January 2009

A distraught mother speaks... Hey Facebook, you listening..?

My name is Emma Kwasnica. I am a 30-year-old Canadian tandem-nursing mother living in Montréal, whose Facebook account has now been entirely disabled over the breastfeeding photos controversy. The official petition group on Facebook is called Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is NOT obscene! . I am reaching out because I think you might be interested in the Facebook fiasco over breastfeeding images, and them being classed as "obscene, sexually explicit and pornographic". Yes, I said breastfeeding. The most loving, selfless act on Earth.
For the record, my entire Facebook account has now been deleted, with no explanation from the administrators of Facebook. While they have not confirmed the reason for disabling my account, I can only suspect it stems from the fact that, in the days leading up to the disabling of my account, I had photos of me breastfeeding my daughters deleted, and was given a "warning" for having had uploaded "obscene" content that renders Facebook "unsafe for children". They are reproduced here.
Given the amount of obscene, pornographic, and truly disturbing photos, applications and groups that proliferate across Facebook, I am stunned that this has happened to me. I am an aspiring midwife/Childbirth Educator/ Breastfeeding Counselor; I run a lively discussion group on Facebook called Informed Choice : Birth and Beyond, and have been sharing all of my summarised research, studies, links regarding pregnancy, birth and motherhood with a group of nearly three hundred people, since July 2008. And now, everything that I ever wrote, all my photos, all of my midwifery-related research, has been deleted --right off the face of Facebook. Furthermore, this does not concern me alone, as many (over a hundred ?) other Facebook users had their posts deleted, too, since whole discussion threads were deleted into oblivion, if it was indeed me who began the thread (which, 80% of the time, I had started the threads, since this was my group/me sharing the most recent research relevant to the childbearing/-rearing woman).
Facebook has not responded to my e-mails politely enquiring why my account has been disabled. They remain faceless. Hence the reason why I am now reaching out and going public with my situation. I am desperate to get my words back, and most importantly, the general North American public needs to be made aware of Facebook's disgusting double-standards regarding "decency". I am revolted to report that Facebook allows the likes of a group called "Dead Babies Make Me Laugh", and yet, someone such as myself, who wants nothing but to inspire and help women on their journey to birthing healthy, vibrant babies, has her whole account deleted.I have now done radio station interviews (a Sakatoon one, as well as Montréal's 98.5 FM), and was interviewed for 'La Presse' newspaper here in Montréal, the article for which appeared in yesterday's edition of 'La Presse' (the English translation for which you will find below). I may be doing another one-hour long segment on the same Saskatoon radio station at some point this week.
There is a Canadian slant to this whole Facebook fiasco, in that the tireless organiser of the original online protest is from Ottawa (Stephanie Muir), the site that is currently the "safe haven" for breastfeeding photos which have been deleted by Facebook is a Canadian one (TERA), is coordinated by Paul Rapoport of Hamilton, Ontario, and now, the only (known) person so far to have had their Facebook account fully disabled over this issue --me, a Montreal mother.
Please help me by spreading the word of Facebook's appalling actions (such as by posting this to your blog), and consider this an official plea to get the word out ! For the sake of the next generation of babies, people everywhere need to understand that the larger issue of normalising breastfeeding is deeply important here. In 2009, it is unacceptable that women feel shamed, or are sexualised, while providing the most normal, the most physiologically appropriate food for their babies : breastmilk.
Sincerely yours,
Emma Kwasnica,
You will also find above the scanned, full-page image from Le Journal de Montréal, in which I am breastfeeding my daughters. This is particularly relevant as Facebook has said that no major newspaper in North America would publish the type of breastfeeding photos that they have deleted. This simply isn't true - this newspaper image (from October 2008) is living proof ! If Montreal, a city of over 3.5 million, can handle seeing this image in a daily newspaper, they why can't Facebook ?
(Morgan here - I've had three photos deleted from Facebook, and no one has deleted my account! My three photos exposed more aureole than Emma's do!)
EDIT Jan, 19th - Emma's account was restored.


Jose y Cali said...

Hi Morgan!! I'm Josefina, from Argentina, and I've joined the group "Hey, Facebook, bf is not obscene" since one of my pics breastfeeding my toddler was deleted.
I'ld like to translate to spanish and publicate Emma's article in my blog, how can I get her authorization?
Thanks, and congrats on your blog!!

Morgan said...

Email her! Eddress is on the blog!

I'm sure she'd be very happy for the translation anyway - she does ask people to repost. :-)

Anonymous said...

I went back to how I ended up at this page, and it started with Dr Bronner's Castile soap and a reference to and then to this.

Having breast fed 3 babies, and one untill the age of 2, I understand well, the issues of breastfeeding in public. My view is that when it is kept dignified, it is truely a magical bond between a mother and her child. I felt that many times with my own children.

I feel that pictures explicitly showing the breast nolonger is about the relationship between a mother and her child. I feel uncomfortable seeing a breast in public, regardless if it is feeding or not. I certainly feel I have a right as well, and should not be forced to explain to my children why women are showing their breasts when breastfeeding.

Many places (malls in particular) are breastfeeding friendly and offer wonderful places to do so. A receiving blanket is a great way to give your child some privacy and others respect when these facilities are not available.

As for Facebook, they have their rules. Email offers you an opportunity to share these intimate moments with those close to you, who would appreciate them most.

Morgan said...

I'm afraid you don't have a right to enforce your personal opinion on the hunger of a child. The child has a basic human right to adequate and nutritious food, and this is enshrined in human rights legislation in several human rights charters.

Human rights don't change according to location, or audience.

Your personal feelings of discomfort are yours to deal with. They do not take precedence over a child's hunger. Neither do they take precedence over a mother's legal right to both feed her hungry child, or show her own body. It is legal to breastfeed in public, in England & Wales, regardless of age of the child. it is an offence to try and stop a child feeding, up to the age of two years in Scotland. In many USA states, a female breast feeding a child is also legally protected, regardless of how much breast is shown. Some go as far as state the nipple can be shown, and this is utterly aceptable, and the right of the mother.

In New York State, any woman can display her breasts in public, no baby required.

As I said, your personal opinion does not infringe on the human rights of the child. If it makes you uncomfortable, look away. We do have a right to feed our children in public: you don't have the right to stop the child feeding, or object to the feeding method.

Your status as a mother who breastfed herself, does not give your opinion added extra value. Each woman is free to decide on her own body's use, as she sees fit. Again, this is a basic human right - mothers are free to breastfeed, babies must have access to their food. Mothers are free to use camouflage is they wish too, mothers are free to refuse to hide. It's her breast, and her choice.

If you don't like that, then apart from expressing your personal opinion, you are free to become politically active to try and change human rights legislation.

In California, where Facebook is situated, if they acted in this manner physically, in that real space, they would be breaking the law. We have a perfect right, as users, and a social community, to hihglight what we consider is an unethical policy, safe from prosecution of the State laws, as it is happening in cyber space.

If Facebook were deleting pictures of mixed race couples, would you be so quick to defend their right to do so?

Thank you for your personal opinion. Next time, try owning up to who you are, it makes such conversations so much more meaningful, when you're not hiding.

Anonymous said...

Why again doesn't anonymous' being a nursing mom in the past add extra value? What makes her nursing experience any less than yours because she chose to be quiet about it in public?

Anonymous said...

I just noticed the approval comment on the top of the page and I'm sure my last comment will either be not posted because I agee with the other anonymous, or because you plan to post some snarky comment to "tell me off". That's pretty much the way most of these nursing moms who want to go bare chested in public while nursing act, so have at it, we're all used to the bitter attitudes now.

Morgan said...

Anonymous - you don't want feedback to your comments, don't leave any comments. No one makes you post. And this isn't about one person's opinion or experience, it's about human rights and commonweal. We want healthy happy babies in our world, we better get used to breasts in their mouths.

And as for bitter? You came across loud and clear. Must really drives you nuts that the loud women have their rights to be loud, protected in law. But loud women we are, and what's more we rejoice in the freedom to be so. :-)

Anonymous said...

All you are doing is scarring your children for LIFE. The last thing they need is to be the famous breastfeeding babies. And also, there are tons of healthy babies in the world that don't breastfeed at the mall, so please don't make it seem like you are a better mom than others, because you choose to show off your breasts. Oh..and, regarding your rights. Nothing you mentioned has anything to do with Facebook's right to fully moderate the content on their site.

Breastfeeding in NO WAY can be compared to interracial couples. It is both inane and disgusting to compare the plight of segregation with whatever "discrimination" you feel that you have faced.

Morgan said...

Aww honey, do you need some validation in your life? I'm sure if you talk to someone, one-to-one, you can work through your feelings. Cheer up - it does get better. You can live a life where you don't need to attack others, as 'anonymous' and still feel you've achieved something? The first step is recognizing you need some real life people to talk to. I wish you well.